Animals in the Office: The Pros and Cons of a Pet-Friendly Workplace
Keeping your employees at ease is essential to maintaining moral, retention, and of course, productivity. Every career comes with its challenges, but an employer that takes steps to prevent undue stress and maximize satisfaction will keep their talent refreshed and ready for more, ensuring their workforce regularly performs at peak efficiency.
However, while the results are well documented, the means of achieving such comfort levels tend to vary wildly.
There’s no shortage of trends and fads that propose wild actions and promise huge returns, but they lack any credible information, that is, until they’ve already failed and experts are able to analyze them in hindsight.
However, there will always be the diamonds in the rough, the concepts that pass the test and prove their worth, exceeding expectations and improving wherever they’re implemented.
Take Pet-Friendly Policies, for example.
Animal lovers are rejoicing at how more and more workplaces are allowing animals, either by permitting employees to bring their own pets or by hosting their very own office pet. While this obviously doesn’t work well in every industry (you wouldn’t want a cat wandering around a meat packing plant), studies have documented a measurable difference in performance and productivity between offices that allow animals and those that don’t.
With all this good news on the subject, many employers are eager to implement policies of their own so they can start reaping the rewards. However, every business is unique, and just because a policy works well in one office doesn’t always mean it will work well in every office. Any employer curious about making their workplace pet-friendly should carefully consider the pros and cons before moving forward.
On the positive side, most people love animals. Having an animal at the office can bring people together who otherwise may have kept to themselves, giving them a sense of unity and boosting cooperation. Pet owners often enjoy having their beloved animals with them instead of leaving the poor creatures alone at home, plus they save money on pet sitters, so they will be more likely to stay late and less likely to miss work. When properly trained, the animals themselves can gain a great deal from interacting with other people or pets. Keeping pets happy and healthy passes the benefit on to those around them, as even the most stoic of souls can find it difficult not to at least crack a smile when greeted by wide eyes and a wagging tail. The animals will of course need to answer nature’s call, so their owners will in turn need to take additional or longer breaks, but research has shown this does wonders for their focus, letting them return to their tasks refreshed. What’s more, employers who offer pet insurance or are lenient to employees missing work to attend vet appointments can really earn their employee’s loyalty, creating a sense of respect that tightens the connection of everyone involved into something almost akin to a family, or should I say, a pack.
On the negative side, not everyone likes animals, and some have very understandable reasons for feeling that way. People with severe allergies will literally have their lives put in danger, and while those with only mild allergies will simply be inconvenienced, the entire purpose of allowing animals at the office is to make people happier. Likewise, some people may have suffered trauma from animal attacks or are fearful of falling victim to it, so forcing them to be around animals on the job will ruin their workplace experience. Those that are uncomfortable around the animals may find themselves being ostracized by those who aren’t, breeding resentment and potentially causing talented employees to leave. Speaking of resentment, if any of the animals should injure, or heaven forbid, kill, another animal or person, the damage to employee moral will be absolutely devastating, perhaps even being the downfall of the company itself.
The drafting of policies and procedures surrounding what is and isn’t allowed must be clearly established and understood, with no loopholes or wiggle room. Additional insurance and accountability will be required on the parts of the employer and employees alike, provided the location and landlord allow animals in the first place.
If all this sounds intimidating, that’s because it is, and it should be judged accordingly. Just as owning a pet is a huge responsibility that not everyone is prepared for, becoming a pet-friendly workplace is a major decision, one that should never be taken lightly.