At some businesses, co-workers have four legs. That’s because nearly 10 percent of companies allow employees to bring their pet to work. Many of these pet-friendly offices are small businesses. And there’s evidence that it pays off. But bringing pets to the workplace can have employees fighting like cats and dogs. Here are ways you can make your small business a sanctuary for both its two- and four-legged co-workers.
Benefits of Pet-Friendly Workplace
There’s actual scientific evidence supporting the value of pets at work. A Virginia Commonwealth University research found that dogs in the workplace make people happier, less stressed, and more productive. Another study by Central Michigan University found that groups with dogs showed significantly higher mutual trust and team bonding.
In addition, it can help with recruiting and retention. Seventy-nine percent of businesses report that being pet-friendly gives them a recruiting advantage, especially with Millennials. And 53 percent of employees at non-pet businesses say they would stay if they were allowed to bring a pet to work.
Creating a Pet-Friendly Business
It’s important to set some ground rules before implementing a pet-friendly workplace. Here are some suggested guidelines:
- Set rules upfront – Decide what is acceptable and unacceptable pet behavior. For example, should all pets be on a leash when they are in a public area? Who will clean up after them? When will they not be allowed back? Will they be allowed everyday or on certain days? How many pets are allowed at any one time? Consider having a committee of pet and non-pet people work to develop the guidelines.
- Hire the right one – What types of pets will you allow? Dogs are the most common workplace pets at 76 percent followed by cats at 15 percent. One company requires employees to fill out an application about their pet. It must be approved before they are “hired” and come to work.
- Respect differences – Not everyone is a pet lover. And some employees may have allergies or other health conditions that prevent them from being near animals. So designate “pet-free areas.”
- Check the specs – Each locale has it’s own laws and regulations on animals. For example, if you serve food, you may be prohibited from having animals other than service pets. Check with your legal advisor for any liability concerns. And make sure you can have pets in your building. You might want to give the cleaning crew a heads up too.
- Make accommodations – You may need to make some physical accommodations to your workspace. For example, do you have an outside area where dogs can take a walk and restroom break?
Inviting employees to bring their pets to work can have its advantages. But before Fido and Fluffy become co-workers, be sure you consider these guidelines to fetch the most from this benefit.