Pet-friendly employee benefits are making waves right now, and they’re continuing to rise in popularity. More and more employers are jumping at the idea of implementing pet-friendly policies at work due to the increasing interest from employees. But, guess what? These benefits aren’t just for employees!
Employers are beginning to understand the positive and significant impact of pet benefits as well, including improvements in:
A survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital uncovered an overwhelming agreement by employees and HR decision makers regarding the huge value a pet policy can bring company culture, with improved workplace relationships, greater work-life balance, increased productivity and decreased guilt over leaving pets at home.
Banfield also states that a “bring your pet to work” benefit is more likely to influence a competitive job search, noting that millennials are 60% more likely to seek employment at a company that implements pet-friendly policies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites dozens of animal experts who report that interaction with pets can reduce stress, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase opportunities for exercise and socialization.
Office Pet Practices
If you are considering implementing a pet policy at your office, there are a few things you should consider:
It’s OK to Discriminate
Office pets are usually dogs and cats, but any pet that’s well-trained and not potentially unpleasant could be considered, with HR consent. Animals perceived as dangerous, like snakes and spiders, should probably be left at home.
When interviewing potential new talent, it’s probably smart to bring up the fact that you have a pet policy in place. It’s fun to brag about being “fur-friendly” because it’s just so awesome, but there will be people you on-board that will be allergic to cats, afraid of dogs, or in general just don’t like the disruption of animals during the work day. Candidates should be able to consider the pros and cons of your policy when making their employment decisions.
Generally, you want employees to care for their pets properly. Pet owners should clean up after their pets, and should be solely responsible for their pet’s behavior and well-being. They should supervise their pets in the workplace, or know their location, at all times. It is a good idea to write up a company-wide “Pet Policy” that employees must read and sign before bringing their pet in, so everyone understands what behavior is acceptable.
Office pet-sharing is not a good fit for every company. Places with sensitive equipment, like factories or medical labs, will have to keep Fido out. If you can’t, or are just not ready to pull the trigger on allowing pets at the office, there are other animal-friendly benefits you can offer employees that they will appreciate.
65% of Americans own at least one pet, and almost two-thirds of employees may be shouldering sizable veterinary costs, according to Nationwide, industry leader of the pet insurance world. They say about 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies are now offering staff an insurance benefit to help with this financial strain — not only to appeal to animal-loving prospective hires, but also to help retain current pet-owning employees.
Employers trying to control the cost of employee benefits have a range of choices when offering this, from paying 100% of pet premiums down to simply passing along a discount on the insurance, which can then be deducted from payroll or paid directly by the employee.
Another way that employers can help is if they consider an alternative use for family and medical leave that extends leaves of absence (paid or unpaid) to caring for or being with a pet in lieu of a person. It’s important to remember pets are a part of people’s families, and an important part of their life. Being able to be with them during sickness or procedures is meaningful, and employees will be extremely appreciative.
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