As workplaces evolve and seek ways to improve and motivate staff, bringing pets to work is growing in popularity.
Millennials are more likely to share their lives with pets than any other generation. So for employers, finding ways to facilitate pet ownership could give them the edge when attracting talent.
From stress reduction to job satisfaction and improved employee retention, having pets around the office can significant boost employee health and engagement.
With 8% of US and UK employers now allowing dogs in the workplace, get ahead of your competitors and offer an alternative benefit to your workforce.
Despite the benefits, the risks involved can cause concern and should be dealt with through an effective policy.
Making employees aware of the risks and company policy can avoid mishaps and ensure that all employees can benefit from a pet-friendly workplace:
- Litigation- Manage this risk by having the appropriate liability insurance in place as well as a signed agreement, making clear the employee’s responsibility for any liability suffered by the employer by permitting dogs in the workplace.
- Cultural sensitivities- some religions consider dogs unclean. Other cultures are familiar with dogs only as guard dogs, and as a result find them threatening. This means that designated ‘dog-friendly’ and ‘dog-free’ areas are a must.
- Allergies- 15-30% of allergic people are allergic to cats and dogs and some of the allergens will linger in an area that the animal has been even after they leave. Dog-friendly and dog-free zones are vital when managing these allergens.
- Health- there may be concern around zoonotic diseases such as parasites. Having guidelines surrounding regular vet check-ups and vaccinations where appropriate could address this issue. Additionally, simple, basic hand hygiene can negate almost all risks.
- Phobias- some staff may have a fear or dislike of dogs. Making new employees aware of the dog-friendly nature of the office, and the provisions made for those less keen on dogs (dog-free spaces) at recruitment stage can avoid any nasty surprises once new employees start.
- Behaviour- a badly behaved dog has the potential to be a source of conflict and frustration in the workplace. Any workplace policies must make employees aware of this risk and their responsibility for their dog.
Creating Your Own Dog-Friendly Policy
While you may wish to contact other employers in your industry who operate a dog-friendly policy, my new book provides useful examples of policies implemented by several companies.
To find out more about creating a workplace that is truly dog-friendly, rather than one that simply allows dogs, take a look at my book ‘Office Dogs: The Manual’ which will be released in March 2019 or get in touch to book a private consultation for your business.
Steph Rousseau is an Irish dog trainer and behaviourist with an interest in facilitating dogs in the workplace. Her book on the subject, Office Dogs: The Manual, is being published internationally over the coming months, with the Norwegian version already available and the English version to follow in March 2019.
She offers office dog consultations for businesses considering implementing or improving a dog-friendly policy, as well as talks and workshops in organisations which allow dogs. You can contact her at email@example.com for more information.