Animals in the Workplace. What Are the Benefits of This Trend and What to Avoid?
With the gradual return to offices, the trend of previous years - the presence of pets in the workplace - has quickly accelerated. What does the research say about this phenomenon and how best to approach it from a manager's perspective?
In a recent survey, up to half of managers said they had facilitated or planned to facilitate pets' access to the workplace after the pandemic. Are you one of them? And what can you gain from the business perspective by doing so?
Benefits All Around
The research speaks clearly. Pets in the workplace have a positive impact on both employee performance and well-being - something that, as a responsible manager of a company that is at least somewhat geared up to host four-legged pets, you certainly shouldn't ignore.
According to a 2012 study, dogs in the workplace reduce their owners' stress while making work more enjoyable for others around them. Another study says that employees of companies where pets roam freely are, on average, up to three times more satisfied with their jobs, colleagues and bosses than people working without animal companionship.
Not to mention that opening the door to pets is acting as an increasingly important benefit for the millennial generation, who are currently benefiting from the circumstances of the job market and are also choosing new jobs based on similar criteria. According to one study, up to a third of millennials (between 25 and 40 years old) would rather leave their current job than be forced to leave their pets at home for the whole week.
Beware of Risks
Although pets at work bring a number of benefits, a careful manager should not underestimate the potential risks. The most common is the dissatisfaction of employees who really don't appreciate having four-legged pets around them - whether because of a previous unpleasant experience or an allergy. Therefore, it is better to consult the whole team at work before introducing a looser pet policy.
Another common problem is potential damage to company property. Make sure you are prepared for it - not only mentally, but especially practically. Does your lease allow animals in the building? Will your insurance company reimburse you for any property damage? And is your workplace suitable for pets at all, or are there rooms that should be strictly off-limits to them?
Steps You Can Take
If you're about to become the favourite of your company's new four-legged visitors (as well as their masters), here are some tips on how to do it:
- place water bowls around the workplace
- equip the workplace with small treats that employees can use to reward (not just their) four-legged pets with
- organise various pet-related events or competitions
- give your employees extra time off to visit the vet or in those sad cases when they have to say the final goodbye to their pets