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Why Embracing Pet-Friendly Policies Promotes a Positive Work Culture

Published about 1 year ago • 5 min read

Over the past three years, companies have been far more focused on overall employee well-being due to the burnout crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic. More than 40% of knowledge workers or those who can work remotely, feel overworked and stressed at work. At the same time, many employees worked from home for the first time in their careers and benefitted from being closer to their families, having freedom and flexibility, and saving time and money on commuting. Now, as more companies are mandating at least part-time office attendance, employees want a similar experience at the office as they’re used to at home. Employees desire consistency so there’s no disruption in the environment that supports their work efforts.

In reaction to both the well-being burnout crisis, and new workplace norms and preferences, companies have created programs and policies to support their employees. In fact, 87% of companies now have a well-being initiative in place. I predict that in the next few years, every company will be offering well-being benefits to both compete for talent and retain employees. Furthermore, there is a heightened focus on corporate social responsibility, and organizations are expected to demonstrate their commitment to ethical and responsible practices, which include caring for their employees' happiness, health, welfare, and comfort. Caring about employee well-being is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic business decision for companies to thrive in today's competitive landscape. Companies that incorporate well-being into their workplace culture have healthier employees that work harder and stay longer.

Employee well-being typically exists as part of an employer’s employee assistance program (EAP). EAPs offer a range of benefits and services to support employees in various aspects of their lives. The most common are counseling services, crisis intervention, work-life balance, financial and legal guidance, and, of course, well-being programs and resources. These offerings have expanded even more because of the disruption the pandemic had on workers' lives.

One of the modern and popular additions to EAPs are dog-friendly policies and pet insurance, especially with so many employees welcoming dogs into their families for companionship and therapeutic reasons during the pandemic. A WTW study found that pet insurance is one of the five fastest-growing benefits with almost half of the employers currently offering it. And, a separate survey discovered that 78% of remote workers would go back to the office, and stay with their companies if they were allowed to bring their pets to work. Think about it, if you’re used to petting your dog before a Zoom meeting for ‘good luck’, what are you supposed to do at a corporate office without that same ritual?

There are a lot of reasons why more employers need to get on the pet-train now, but most importantly it may create a more positive work culture. In fact, according to a new survey[1] conducted by the CESAR brand (#CESARpartner), more than 70% of employee dog owners in dog-friendly offices report higher levels of satisfaction with their office environment, and 96% of dog-owning employees say bringing their dog to the office impacts their enjoyment of being in the office. Employees and employers alike largely hold positive associations with the culture of a company that allows dogs in the office, citing words like “welcoming,” “happy,” “fun,” and “flexible” most often.

Employers should consider creating a dog-friendly office for several reasons, which may include:

  • Promotes office attendance: Among employers in that CESAR brand survey[1], a substantial majority with dog-friendly policies (87%) say these perks have made employees more likely to return to the office. And, among those employers who lack such a policy, about half (54%) expect a dog-friendly benefit would encourage employees to return to the office, potentially largely underestimating the effect cited by employers.
  • Improved work-life balance: Allowing dogs in the office can help employees balance their work and personal lives by reducing the amount of time they need to spend away from their pets during the workday.
  • Enhanced employee wellness: Interacting with pets can help reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. Allowing dogs in the office can provide employees with a natural stress-relieving activity, which can contribute to improved physical and mental health.
  • Increased socialization and collaboration: Dogs can help break down barriers and increase socialization and collaboration among employees. They can serve as conversation starters and help employees connect with one another in a non-work-related context.
  • Positive brand image: Companies that create dog-friendly offices may improve their brand image and appeal to a wider range of job candidates. This can help attract top talent and enhance the overall reputation of the company.
  • Additional employment perk: Nearly 50% of non-dog-friendly offices would consider this perk. And it’s easier than you think. The CESAR brand is launching Workplace Grants, powered by the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program, designed to help businesses make simple changes to welcome dogs into their offices or to further enhance their current dog-friendly offerings.

The potential benefits of pet-friendly policies at work are clear, but many companies don’t know where to start. When creating dog-friendly workplace policies, it is important to establish clear guidelines and expectations to ensure the safety, well-being, and comfort of all employees and their furry companions.

Here are some elements that employers should consider including in dog-friendly workplace policies:

  • Eligibility and approval process: Define which employees are eligible to bring their dogs to the workplace and establish a clear approval process. This may include vaccination requirements, behavior assessments, or size/weight restrictions.
  • Code of conduct: Specify expected behavior for both dogs and owners, such as requiring dogs to be well-behaved, house-trained, and non-aggressive. Outline guidelines for dog owners to ensure they maintain control and clean up after their dogs, including waste disposal protocols.
  • Workplace health and safety measures: Require dogs to be up-to-date on vaccinations and free from contagious illnesses. Set guidelines for preventing and managing potential allergies, such as designating specific dog-free areas or ensuring proper ventilation, whether it's limited to specific offices, common areas, or entire floors. Include safety measures like leash requirements and procedures for handling emergencies or dog-related incidents. Provide resources like water bowls, designated rest areas, or dog-friendly amenities to ensure dogs' comfort.
  • Communication and awareness: Develop channels for effective communication, such as providing employees with guidelines, training, or orientation sessions before bringing their dogs to work. Promote awareness and open dialogue between dog owners and non-dog owners to address concerns or conflicts that may arise. Trial period and evaluation: Consider implementing a trial period to assess the impact of the policy on the workplace environment. Regularly evaluate the policy's effectiveness and make adjustments based on feedback and observed outcomes.

It is crucial to consult legal and HR professionals to ensure that the policy complies with local laws, regulations, and the specific needs of the company. By establishing comprehensive dog-friendly workplace policies, employers can create an environment that fosters harmony, productivity, and inclusivity for all employees, both human and canine.

To learn more about the CESAR brand’s commitment to making the world a dog-friendly place, starting with the workplace, visit cesar.com/dogs-at-work.

[1] Mars Petcare partnered with Weber Shandwick and KRC Research to inform the Cesar Purpose at Work 2.0 Program study. KRC Research conducted an online survey among a sample of n=1500 US office workers and n=300 employers. All office workers had to work in person on average at least 2 days a week. The survey was conducted from May 2 to May 9, 2023.

Please join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic.


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