Salaries and benefits go a long way in determining employee satisfaction. But companies that allow pets in the office are two steps ahead of the competition.
A 2018 study by Nationwide Insurance and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that 91% of workers at companies that allow pets in the workplace feel fully engaged in their work and feel their employer cares about their well-being. When the same questions were posed to workers in non-pet friendly workplaces, 65% felt fully engaged and 59% believed their employer cared about their well-being.
Granted there are some companies that simply cannot allow pets, such as hospitals and other healthcare settings. Zynga, Salesforce and other Bay Area tech firms are setting the trend and forcing other companies to adopt pet policies to attract top talent. Amazon even has drinking fountains for dogs underneath all the fountains for humans in its Seattle office. The key to successfully integrating dogs and cats into the workplace is drafting a strong policy that mitigates potential issues.
The first part of pet policies typically defines what type of pets are allowed. Most offices only allow dogs and cats. They must be at least three months old, house-trained, well-groomed and be up to date on all required vaccinations. Of course all pets must be obedient and well-behaved. Co-workers with issues concerning pets are first advised to try and resolve them directly with the pet owner before escalating to supervisors or Human Resources.
A 2016 survey by Banfield Pet Hospital found that 67% of employees felt they were more productive at work because of their pets. That's likely because pet owners are forced to be more focused with the added responsibility. Most pet policies mandate that owners "pet-proof" their workstations and keep their furry friends out of certain areas. Homeowners or renters insurance that covers dog bites is also required by most companies.
Dog owners are usually required to take their dogs outside several times a day to ensure accidents do not happen in the office. Owners are asked to take their dogs home if they bark a lot or exhibit other bad behaviors.
While pets make the owner happy at work, co-workers may not share that sentiment. Dog and cat allergies are quite common and can make a co-worker miserable. There are also some people who just don't like dogs or cats, and don't want to be around them. There's also the potential for cats to scratch up your new executive office chairs or for dogs to chew stuff other than their toys.
The biggest concern is the unpredictable. A dog bite or a dog causing someone to trip and fall on company property could be a nightmare legal situation. There may also be insurance ramifications. Make certain to talk to a lawyer before implementing any type of pet policy.-------------------------------
Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Samantha writes for several retailers and mommy bloggers, and runs an e-commerce store.