Pet-friendly Perks are Valuable to Employees

young women working from home on a video call with her pet cat

During the COVID-19 pandemic, animal adoptions skyrocketed as employees working from home sought out new (and furry) office mates. But with some companies transitioning back to office life, workers are wondering how their pets will cope without them.

More companies are seeing the value in providing an answer. As organizations search for ways to attract and retain employees, offering pet-friendly perks is proving to be an effective tool to boost recruitment, increase morale and encourage healthy habits.

Employers can create a pet-friendly workplace by:

  • Creating pet-based employee resource groups.
  • Adapting schedules so workers can care for their animals.
  • Allowing leave when adopting pets.
  • Letting therapy animals visit the office.
  • Offering opportunities for staff to volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  • Providing pet insurance and pet-wellness reimbursement accounts.
  • Permitting bereavement leave during loss of a pet.

Employees are also eager to work from home. A CertaPet study found that 69% of employees prefer to work from home permanently for the sake of their dog. The study also found that 47% of pet owners (and 76% of dogs) experience separation anxiety when they are apart.

Another way organizations can become a pet-friendly workplace is by allowing (well-behaved) pets on premises either daily or during designated bring-your-animal-to-work events.

Many businesses were allowing this before the pandemic, but now workers are more connected to the idea. A 2021 survey sponsored by Banfield Animal Hospital and OnePoll found 71% of Gen Z employees and 48% of millennials wanted to bring along their pets when they return to the workplace. Half the employers in that survey reported they were considering the idea and 59% will allow more flexibility for owners to care for their pets.

Benefits of a pet-friendly workplace

Interaction with animals is a proactive way to improve physical and mental health of workers. Animals encourage people to be more social and active. These healthy habits lower obesity and reduce money spent on medical care, according to the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative.

In March 2021, 80% of respondents to a Rover survey said a “pandemic pet” made working from home more enjoyable and 93% said it improved their mental and/or physical well-being.

A pet-friendly workplace also helps:

  • Increase retention
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve employee satisfaction
  • Reduce stress

Tips to becoming a pet-friendly workplace

Proper planning helps employers and HR decision-makers create a pet-friendly organization. One way to start is to survey employees to understand what perks are important to them. All pet policies should be clearly communicated to ensure the safety and health of both employees and pets.

If you allow pets on site, also:

  • Enforce limits by permitting only well-behaved, vaccinated animals.
  • Make sure all spaces are safe for both humans and animals.
  • Encourage employees to have a back-up plan in case their pets don’t like the noise or conditions of office life. New and unique environments can stress pets and cause destructive behavior.
  • Designate pet-free areas for employees who are allergic or prefer to not be around animals.
  • Be flexible. An animal may cause a distraction at first with everyone in the office wanting to meet their new “colleague.” Give the transition time and assess your pet policies periodically. If employees are happy and productive, then the whole organization will be successful.