June 21st-25th is Take Your Pet to Work Week, the perfect time to consider pet-friendly workplace policies aimed at meeting the needs of pet owning employees. Those fortunate enough to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic found comfort in working alongside their companion animals. As people return to work, they are now worried about leaving their pets behind. Supporting a pet-friendly workplace environment is a great way to meet the needs of these employees while also boosting your competitive edge. Research shows that employers that embrace pet-friendly workplace policies can attract and retain top talent.
How COVID-19 Changed the Landscape for Pets in the Workplace
The COVID-19 pandemic brought pets and people closer together. Millions of people welcomed new pets into their families and turned to their pets for support during the pandemic. According to a “COVID-19 Pulse Study” conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 11.38 million households have gotten a new pet during the pandemic, including over one in six members of the youngest generation, Gen Z.
The human-animal bond is stronger than ever, and people overwhelmingly reported that they felt even closer to their pets as a result of the pandemic. According to new research from the United Veterinary Services Association (UVSA), this was especially pronounced in people who worked from home, and for Millennials and Gen Z.
In perhaps the surest sign of the future of pet-friendly workplaces, the youngest generations are voicing overwhelming support for the ability to work alongside their pets. 7 in 10 Gen Zers, and almost half of millennials plan to personally reach out to their employer to request they implement a pet-friendly policy. The same survey indicates that many would look for another job post-pandemic if their workplace was not pet-friendly.
Great companies and organizations are aware of these trends and already leading the charge with pet-friendly policies. According to a survey of 500 C-suite executives, 72 percent expect more workplaces will be pet-friendly after the pandemic, and 59 percent personally plan to allow more flexibility for employees wanting to stay remote with their pets. Further, 1 in 2 of the executives surveyed said they’re planning to allow pets in the workplace upon return to the office.
The Science Supporting the Benefits of Pet-Friendly Workplaces
A strong case can be made that companies will benefit from pet-friendly policies. Research conducted by Nationwide in partnership with HABRI has found that 90 percent of employees in pet-friendly workplaces feel highly connected to their company’s mission; fully engaged with their work; and willing to recommend their employer to others, while fewer than 65 percent of employees in non-pet-friendly workplaces made the same claim. The research also found:
- Employees at pet-friendly workplaces are 3x more likely to experience positive working relationships with their supervisors and coworkers compared to employees in non-pet-friendly workplaces.
- 72% of employees who work for a pet-friendly company would decline a job offer with another company at similar pay, compared to 44% of employees in non-pet-friendly companies who would say the same.
- 88% of employees who work for a pet friendly company would recommend their place of employment to others versus 51% who work in non-pet friendly workplaces.
Even if bringing pets into the workplace is not an option, employers can demonstrate that they care about the human-animal bond by providing benefits that help pet owners take good care of their pets. For example, employers can consider offering pet health insurance, time off to care for a new or sick pet, pet sitting services or allowing employees to work from home to take care of pets.
How to Make Pets in the Workplace a Reality
The good news is that there are great resources and helpful information available on how to safely and effectively welcome pets in the workplace or institute pet-friendly workplace policies. For example, Purina offers an Employee Toolkit to help get started on creating a safe and pet-friendly office environment. Petco makes the case for pet-friendly offices with the “Pets at Work” initiative which includes a guide of how to manage a pet-friendly office. And, for a more light-hearted take on pet-friendly offices, check out ‘The Woofice’ from The Pet Effect, which highlights the benefits of pet-friendly offices in a parody of the classic sitcom. The Woofice also features an informative Handbook, which can be downloaded here.
The pandemic has been a challenging time for so many people. Now more than ever, employers need to demonstrate compassion and care to boost morale and support the mental health of employees. Embracing a pet-friendly approach is an effective way to do just that.
To learn more about the health benefits of the human-animal bond, please visit HABRI.org.
- Shareable HABRI Infographic: Now is the Time for Pets at Work
- The Woofice Starter Kit
- Pets Work at Work Toolkit from Mars Petcare
- Better Cities for Pets: Benefits of Allowing Pets in Workplaces
- Shareable Petco Infographic: Benefits of a Pet-Friendly workplace Infographic
- Purina: 5 Steps to a Pet-Friendly Workplace
- Amazon Blog on Pets at Work