If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that everyone loves an adorable puppy. Admit it. You’re only reading this because that doggie pic is just so darn cute!
But is bringing Mr. Wiggles to work taking it a bit too far? Can pets in the office be too much of a fluffy, adorable thing?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Reasons to wag
If the thought of having pets at work has you jumping with excitement, you’re not alone. Many employees under 35 list a pet-friendly office as their most desired workplace perk. This could give pro-pet workplaces an edge when it comes to recruiting talent.
And there are lots of other reasons a pet-friendly workplace policy may have you drooling.
Pets at work have been shown to:
- Increase employee engagement, morale, and retention
- Enhance personal interaction and professional collaboration
- Encourage healthy habits via daily walks and activity
- Add levity and create a more relaxed atmosphere for staff and clients
Permitting pets at work also gives many employees more flexibility with their time, which allows them to be in the office more often.
The stress of pet care is real. Think of how many people you know who are constantly grabbing their keys and running home to care for their pets. Lunch meetings? Out. After work functions? No can do. Staying a few minutes late to finish a project? Only if there’s someone else who can let Mr. Wiggles out.
In addition to providing workplace joy and flexibility, allowing furry friends in the office can be a huge financial benefit to pet owners. After all, doggie daycare isn’t cheap. Neither is replacing the couch your lonely, anxious pup chewed to death while you were gone.
But it’s not necessarily for everyone.
Reasons to bark
If the thought of adding animals into the Human Resources mix rubs you the wrong way, you may be justified.
It’s hard enough to make sure all of your employees get along. Now you have to manage the relationships between people and their pets? Plus any legal and liability issues that may arise? It’s enough to make you want to curl up on the floor and take a nap.
Potential issues here include:
Bringing a pet to work requires caring for it during the day. This can be good if your employees tend not to take their much needed breaks, but bad if they add pet care on top of them. Sometimes, it’s the dogs themselves who are the distraction, and not just for their cuteness. It can be pretty hard to concentrate or take a business call if there’s an anxious, aggressive, loud, or overly-friendly dog nearby.
Differences in pet parenting styles and what behavior is acceptable has caused many an argument on the internet. A pet-friendly policy could easily bring these same discussions to the workplace, causing both dogs and employees to bark angrily at each other.
Yep. Those kind. The ones that involve copious amounts of stain remover, air freshener, and carpet cleaning. But there can be other accidents as well. Chewed cords. Spilled coffee. And the potential for a confused or unhappy pup to lash out.
If someone does get bitten at work, it can quickly escalate into angry words and even lawsuits. Legal action can also arise from employees with allergies or fear of animals who feel like they are not being adequately accommodated.
You may love the idea of a pet-friendly office, but it’s not for everyone— including those who suffer from allergies or asthma. A workplace full of pets could be a deal-breaker for many job seekers, making finding that perfect candidate even more difficult (Or shall we say ruff?).
“If Joe can bring his dog, why can’t I bring my python?” This is a question you may need to address, so make sure your workplace pet policy covers it. Also, be aware that even the sweetest, most adorable cat or dog can bring unwanted guests with it. Treating a flea outbreak at home is hard enough, but once it hits the office, look out.
Walking the line
Thinking of dipping your toes into the pet-friendly waters, but not sure you want to go all in? Try starting off small.
Consider getting an office dog, cat, or other animal instead of instituting a bring-your-own policy. You could also participate in Bring Your Dog to Work day to see how it goes, or establish one day per month when pets are allowed. If you have particularly slow or stressful times during the year, look into hosting animals on-site for a few hours at a time for a little fun and/or workplace stress relief.
If you want to support employees and their pets without actually bringing furry friends into the office, there are other ways to offer pet-related perks:
- Create flexible paid time off programs that include room for veterinarian visits, and pet emergencies, adoption, or bereavement
- Allow for work-at-home options when pets are sick or injured
- Offer discounted pet insurance as a voluntary benefit
- Support employees who adopt animals with recognition, a pet-related gift, or a company donation to a pet-related charity.
Other ideas for animal-loving businesses include getting involved with your local humane society or animal shelter by sponsoring events, matching funds donated by employees, or offering time off for staff members who want to volunteer.
That way, whether or not you allow animals on-site, Mr. Wiggles will feel the love. And so will your employees.
Is your benefits broker also a compliance consultant? What about a trusted business partner? Are you confident your policies and processes are doing what they need to ensure that your company—and your employees— are healthy and productive?
Photo by filumx