Pets In the Workplace?

This is a fun topic as it has to do with one of my most favorite things ever – pets!  This is obviously one of those topics that will have positives, as well as negatives, but I think it is an interesting topic of conversation.  Would you consider allowing pets in your small business?  After reading through some articles, I absolutely think it can be a great idea, yet it also can have some drawbacks. According to research by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, about 20% of all companies in the US allow employees to bring their furry friends along to the workplace.

Have you heard of Google and Amazon?  Who hasn’t, right?  These are just a couple of examples of huge enterprises that allow pets within the workplace.

petsBenefits that pets offer when in the office:

  • Increased employee morale
  • Reduced employee absenteeism
  • Reduced stress-related ailments such as heart disease and diabetes
  • Increased team bonding, trust, and intimacy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have cited similar benefits, of which can be found in this article.  If you’d like to see examples of companies who support pets in the workplace, this link will also share some stories.

There is also a flipside to pets in the workplace which would require respectful judgment.  If your pet tends to be on the more aggressive side, or barks constantly, these obviously would not be the best choice to bring to work, unless you’re a certified dog trainer.

Pets are also expensive and if a workplace is going to enable this benefit, they will need to realize that it will add greatly to their budget.   As crazy as it sounds, we have to also realize that not everyone is a pet lover.  Some may be timid around pets, or have had a bad experience within their lifetime.

Not to mention allergies!   The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America pegs the figure of Americans with one form of pet allergy or another at 15% to 30% of the total population. Some of these allergies are so severe that they cause rashes, temporary breathlessness, panic attacks, and even severe respiratory disorders.  Here's an article about some other concerns to consider.

In the event that you do decide to allow pets within the workplace, you may need to set a few guidelines.

  • Ensure employees know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior
  • Offer amenities for the pets such as self-cleaning litter boxes, treats, poop bags, water fountains
  • Allow employees to take their pets on walks
  • Set up a pet free zone for those with allergies
  • And, of course, check into any legality issues that may be present within your state

pets2If you are considering allowing pets in your workplace, you will need to evaluate if this really works for your small business.  Is the majority of your staff animal lovers?  Is your office space large enough to accommodate not only pets, but the amenities that they require such as food and water, and those overly plush pet beds?  If you lease your space, does the landlord allow pets in the office (this is our block to having pets - but a motivator to continue to grow and buy our own space!)?

My opinion is, if it works for you and it could increase morale, go for it!  On the other hand, if you know someone is going to be negatively affected, then maybe it’s best to just read great blogs like this one that show that you are not alone in having this struggle.

I’m curious to hear your feedback.  If you allow pets in the workplace, has this increased morale and helped to maintain employees?   Any negative impacts you’d like to share about man’s best friend?