Pros and Cons of Pets in the Workplace

Employees who feel happy and supported in the workplace often have higher levels of productivity and loyalty to their companies so allowing your employees to bring their pets into work can be a morale boost for all employees. At the same time, it’s important to consider potential downsides to pets in the office before agreeing to this policy. Learn why you might allow pets in the office, consider the pros and cons of office pets and understand the special considerations for service and therapy animals. 

 

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Why you might allow office pets

Allowing pets in the office is a great way to give your employees a workplace perk at a low cost to you. You can list office pets as one of the benefits of working for your company, which might entice candidates to work for your business or help keep current employees satisfied while on the job. 

Related: Employee Benefits: Types of Perks to Offer Employees

 

Pros of office pets

If you’re thinking about allowing pets in your office, consider these possible benefits: 

 

Work-life balance

Allowing employees to bring their pets into the office can help your team maintain a better work-life balance. Many pet owners feel their pets are a part of their family, so allowing them to bring their pet to the office should help them feel more connected to home. 

 

Stress reduction

Animals, particularly dogs, have been shown to help reduce stress. Many offices and colleges bring dogs in for employees and students to pet and interact with occasionally to boost morale and lower stress levels. Allowing your employees to bring their pets into the office whenever they please should have the same effect. 

 

Health and well-being

With lowered stress levels, employees are likely to experience fewer stress-related illnesses, which decreases healthcare costs. Additionally, dogs need to go outside throughout the day, encouraging employees to take work breaks and get some midday exercise. 

 

Employee satisfaction

When your employees feel like you care about them by allowing them to bring their pets into the office, they’re likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction. Employees who enjoy their jobs are often more productive than those who don’t and will be encouraged to continue working for your company. 

 

Retention and recruiting

You can use your pet policy as a tool to recruit new employees and retain current employees. Allowing employees to bring their personal pets into the office is a benefit of working for your company, and you can advertise it as such. 

 

Morale and team building

Office pets can help boost morale and foster relationship building between coworkers. It’s unlikely that every employee will bring their pet to work. Those employees who don’t have a pet but enjoy interacting with animals can benefit from stopping to pet a coworker’s dog and chat with the owner as a quick work break. 

 

Employee savings

You’ll help your employees save money by allowing them to bring their pets to work. Many people need to hire dog walkers during the day to ensure their pets can get outside. If you allow pets in the office, then your employees won’t need to pay for that service. 

Related: Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace: Five to Consider

 

Cons of office pets

Before you allow pets in the office, you should consider the possible downsides of a pet policy: 

 

Allergies

Some of your employees may be allergic to pet dander. If you allow pets in the office, those employees would face discomfort and possible illness so it’s important to consider the health and comfort of all employees. 

 

Disruptions

Pets can be disruptive and distracting, especially if there’s more than one animal present. For example, a poorly trained dog could wander into meetings or try to play with other people or pets, distracting employees from their work. 

 

Liability

Allowing pets in the office can be a liability. If the pet bites an employee or injures another pet, you may be liable for the injury and subsequent costs depending on the specifics of the situation. You may have to retain insurance or provide a waiver to all employees to ensure you’re not responsible for the pets’ behavior. 

 

Rental terms

If you rent your office space, you might have to obtain certain insurance or pay additional fees to allow pets on the premises. Both can be costly depending on the demands of the landlord. 

 

Damage

Pets can cause damages to company or personal property. Like with injuries, you may be liable for those damages, which can be expensive. 

 

Discomfort

Some people don’t like certain animals or have a fear of dogs for whatever reason, so allowing pets in the office would cause unnecessary stress and anxiety and possibly impact their work performance. Be sure to consider everyone in the office and don’t assume that all employees would find a pets in the office a worthwhile affair. 

 

Special considerations for service and therapy animals

Regardless of whether you decide to allow pets in your office, it’s important to remember that service animals are always exempt from pet policies. Service animals, which are often dogs, help people with disabilities or illnesses handle their daily lives. For example, some people with vision impairment use guide dogs to help them navigate streets and buildings. Other service dogs are trained to respond when their owner has a seizure. These are working animals, and their presence in a workspace is protected by law. 

Regulations for therapy animals are less clear. Some people keep animals like dogs, cats and even rabbits or birds as companions who help them manage stress or anxiety. In most cases, these animals don’t fall in the same category as service animals, and they aren’t protected by the same laws and regulations. If you decide against a pet policy and have an employee with a therapy animal, have a personal conversation with them to find a solution that works for everyone involved.

 

Tips for allowing pets in your office

Use these tips to help you establish an effective pet policy in your workplace: 

  • Ensure proper hygiene. Make sure any pet that comes to the office is healthy and well-groomed. This will help keep everyone safe. 
  • Confirm vaccinations. Ask your employees to bring in proof of updated vaccinations to ensure the pets are healthy. 
  • Implement slowly. Institute an introduction process in which pets spend longer and longer periods of time in the office to acclimate. 
  • Consider sign-ups. If you have many employees interested in bringing in their pets, consider setting a daily maximum pet limit and asking employees to sign up in advance.
  • Assess training. Let your employees know that if their pet does not behave appropriately, they’ll have to go home. 
  • Provide liability training. Ask any employees interested in bringing their pet to work to participate in a liability training session so they know who’s at fault in the event of an injury or accident. 
  • Include waivers. Consider asking pet owners to sign a waiver that releases your company from fault in the event of an accident or injury. 

Office pets can bring happiness and stress relief to your employees. While there are quite a few benefits to pets in the office, it’s important to consider the downsides before allowing your employees to bring their pets to work.

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