Taking Your Company from Pet-Empty to Pet-Friendly
A big company perk can be a pet-friendly atmosphere. Continue reading to find out what you need to consider before allowing Fido and friends in the workplace.
An increasing number of companies throughout the country are expanding their on-site policies to include pet initiatives, and the reason for doing so is surprisingly simple: pet-friendly environments foster dramatic increases in employee loyalty, happiness, and workplace enthusiasm. While pet-friendly company policies aren’t for everyone, here are a few reasons to consider before implementing a policy to allow pets in the office.
The Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace
Studies have shown that employees who brought their dogs to work with them experienced reduced stress, decreased negativity, and were more productive compared to colleagues without a dog. A pet-friendly workplace promotes teamwork and collaboration since pets help create social connections. In addition, for dog owner employees, it’s another reason for increased loyalty and satisfaction towards their employer.
While the benefits may sound attractive, dogs in the workplace are not for every company nor is it a fit for every dog. There are serious considerations to think about before implementing a pet-friendly policy.
Checking Your Workplace for Compatibility
Unfortunately, not all workplaces can support the added stress of accommodating furry four-legged friends. Any environment in which employees work with consumable products, sensitive and/or moving equipment, or overwhelming stimuli is off-limits for any animal; similarly, your office building’s rent terms may prohibit animals (or even specific types of animals) from entering the premises.
It’s also worth noting that businesses which focus on customer interaction should err on the side of caution when considering whether or not to implement a pet policy. While your employees may find the influx of paws charming, some of your customers will invariably disagree.
Your employees are the final hurdle in this stage of the process: while almost nine out of ten employees feel that bringing pets into the workplace boosts morale, the remaining one out of ten are not insignificant. Things like allergies, phobias, and comfort parameters can immediately turn off some of your employees to the idea of working for a pet-friendly company, so it’s important to check in with your staff before charging head-first into a new initiative.
If your company does go pet-friendly, you’ll need to mention the culture change to any incoming employees and potential hires. Again, pets represent a positive change for most people, not all people.
If you’ve decided that your workplace is compatible with a pet-friendly atmosphere, your next step should involve outlining workplace pet etiquette (or “petiquette”). This might include anything from setting a weight limit to restricting the types of pets allowed in the office; for example, you might want to prevent pets such as dogs over 100 pounds and ferrets in general in order to ensure employee safety and minimize the potential damage to your building.
You’ll also want to work out some form of insurance policy in the event that your guidelines fall through. Pets are fickle, and you never know how they may react to other pets in tight quarters; as such, having employees who plan on bringing pets to work sign some form of release is a smart move. Your other option is to have all employees fill out a waiver stating that they won’t hold you or the company responsible in the event of an accident, though doing so may create a less supportive atmosphere than you’re hoping to facilitate.
Regardless of whether you go with an insurance form or a waiver, you should strongly consider adding some form of pet insurance to your employees’ benefits package. Your employees may end up needing to take their pets in for check-ups after interacting with other pets, and the resulting bills could otherwise discourage employees from bringing back their tail-wagging companions. And for the dog loving employees, pet insurance is a growing company perk being offered by more and more employers.
Both for the safety of your employees’ pets and for your own legal protection, you should ensure that all employees keep their pets’ vaccines up to date. You might also consider having a spay/neuter-only policy, though you can also mitigate potential problems here by requiring pet owners to keep pets in heat at home for the duration of the cycle.
You may find that some of your employees feel put off by having pets in the office. If the employees’ health or safety isn’t at risk, one possible solution is keeping pets confined to one half of the office while the employees in question stay in the other half; similarly, you might want to keep pets out of communal areas such as conference rooms and lounges.
Employees will also need to decide and enforce amongst themselves which pet behaviors are appropriate and which ones mandate discipline. Outside of aggressive actions, your workplace culture and your employees’ dispositions will dictate this policy, but you should weigh in as needed if your employees can’t come to an agreement.
When you finally begin bringing in pets, start by allowing them a few times per month. If that works, you can build up to having a pet day per week and then move up from there; however, don’t feel like you have to rush into bringing in pets every day. Building up the trust between both the pets and the pets’ owners will take time, and your office productivity shouldn’t take a backseat to your pet-friendly initiative.
Pets can result in the best morale boost available to the average business owner. For more information on how you can convert your business into a pet-friendly environment, call Abacus Payroll at (856) 667-6225 today!