Who Let the Dogs In? The Benefits of Allowing Pets in the Workplace

HR directors at many companies today won’t put you in the doghouse for bringing your pet to work—in fact, it’s encouraged. As far as nonfinancial employee perks go, you might even call it the cat’s meow.

Why? When employees bring their pets to work, it enables a better work-life balance—something that’s a key selling point to attract top talent in today’s market. It’s also been shown that this low-cost benefit can improve work performance, boost employee happiness, and aid in the long-term retention of star employees.

Let’s explore some of the benefits businesses have experienced when they made room for their employees’ four-footed BFFs.

1. Increased employee happiness. Pet owners know how it feels to return home from work to find their dog greeting them with a wagging tail. What if you could capture those feelings of love and acceptance when you arrived at the office? A pet-friendly workplace does just that.

Studies show gazing into your pet’s eyes releases oxytocin—the same feel-good hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies. So, employees who want to boost their mood can spend a few minutes with their pet and return to their tasks relaxed, refreshed, and feeling better.

2. A better work culture. Oxytocin also increases trust and altruism—two highly desirable traits in a successful workplace—so having pets around can positively impact your work culture.

Additionally, in a survey of 200 human resource professionals and 1,000 employees, 70 percent said they believe pets improve working conditions. Specifically, allowing pets in the office can foster communication, openness, and teamwork.

3. A low-cost (or even zero cost) solution to increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Some HR directors will invest thousands of dollars a year in training, corporate retreats, or free snacks in the break room to keep employees engaged and onboard. But allowing employees to bring their dogs and cats to work could have the same positive effect as these other pricey perks, but with little to no cost. In fact, 53 percent of employees who worked in pet-free environments said they’d be more likely to stay if they could bring their pets to work.

4. A better work-life balance. From flex time to telecommuting, HR directors today look for ways to help employees achieve a better work-life balance. Dog owners especially may feel guilty about leaving their pet home alone for eight or more hours each day, and they often struggle to fit in walks or playtime with their pets when they do return home.

5. An effective recruiting tactic. HR directors reported that 65 percent of job candidates ask about pet policies during their interview, which implies that a pet-friendly workplace can be a potent recruiting tool.

Showcase your pet-friendly policy by posting pics or videos of your employees and their pets on your social media channels. You can even organize a lunchtime outing to the dog park with your staff and capture the antics on video to help spread the word. After all, if there’s one form of social media content that’s proven to go viral often, it’s funny pet videos.

6. A positive environment. With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that people view pet-friendly offices in a positive light. In fact, 70 percent of HR managers and employees polled say pets have an overall positive effect on a workplace.

Why Don’t More People Bring Their Dogs to Work?

Surprisingly, though, less than half of employees take advantage of their company’s pet-friendly policies. That number is slightly higher for the HR directors who make the policies; 75 percent of HR directors reported bringing their own pets to work on a weekly basis.

HR directors should make sure employees understand the policy for pets in the office and its advantages to encourage a higher adoption rate and reap even greater rewards from this popular perk.

Photo Credit: ASHLANDJET Flickr via Compfight cc