These days, attracting the best employees isn’t just about the money and the job: it’s about the perks. Of course, there’s no substitute for the basics, like a competitive salary, a good health plan, and a generous amount of PTO, but the extras can help entrepreneurs put their company at the top of the list for job seekers.
In today’s high-stress work environment, people often work long hours or are in high-pressure positions that can make them subject to burnout and even health problems. One perk that’s starting to pop up in offices around the country might make those long hours a little more tolerable: a pet-friendly workplace. In 2016, about 7% of employers nationwide allowed their employees to bring pets to work. But what are the true benefits of a pet-friendly workplace?
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A Scientific Benefit
Multiple studies have shown that having pets in the office is good for overall stress levels and morale. One 2012 study based in Greensboro, NC, found that people who brought their dogs to work experienced lower levels of stress than their colleagues who either did not bring their pets to work, or had no pet at all. However, pets can reduce stress levels in the office, even for the people who don’t bring them.
A More Engaged Team
Think about it: how many days do you wake up and wish you didn’t have to go into the office? Would that be different if you knew you’d get to hang out with a cute dog all day? With only 32% of US workers feeling engaged at work in 2015, and 17% actively disengaged, adding pets to the workplace could be a good way to improve engagement and enthusiasm in the office. Animals can lift the overall mood and happiness levels—which in turn, can improve engagement levels.
Many employers are trying to crack the code of attracting top talent, and offering perks that enhance work-life balance is one good tactic to use. Most people aren’t crazy about the idea of leaving their pets at home, and would jump at the chance to spend more time with them—and save money on a dog walker. Allowing pets in the workplace is a perk that could help attract candidates to your organization. Startups in particular can benefit from this, since building a business often requires employees to work long hours—which doesn’t lend itself well to having a pet, an obstacle that could turn candidates away.
We should all be taking more walks, but it can be tough to fit them in during the workday. If you have a dog with you, however, you don’t have a choice—they need to go outside to go to the bathroom. Employees who bring dogs to work will naturally move more during the day—a plus for overall health.
Less Stress: a Win for Everyone
When you consider the psychological benefits that pets in the workplace can offer, it really seems like a win for everyone. Less stress, more smiles, and higher morale. What’s not to like? These furry stress-busters love being with their people, and the people around them are better off for it.
Should You Consider a Pet-Friendly Workplace?
Of course, it’s not all tail-wagging and cuddles in every office. Before you make the decision to bring dogs or cats into the office, you’ll have to consider several factors. First, would a dog or cat pose a threat to the quality or safety of the product or service you offer? Will your building even allow you to bring in animals? If so, are there any team members who have severe allergies, or have a fear of animals?
You don’t want to negatively impact some employees just to have pets in the office. If everyone is on board, then you’ll need to think about the ground rules: how many pets will be allowed at one time (and what kind), and how do you make sure they’ll behave? The logistics of having pets in the office can be a little tricky, but once you’ve worked out the kinks, they can be a great addition to your office!
Author: Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling. Contact him by email or Twitter @AndrewDeen14.