In our last blog, we talked about the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace. The benefits of a pet-friendly workplace are many, and they all point to one unmistakable fact: being around their pets makes a person healthier, and a healthier employee makes for better work quality, better productivity, greater loyalty to a company, and an improved sense of well-being that boosts morale and has a positive impact in countless areas.
If our discussion helped convince you to begin considering making your workplace pet-friendly, today we’re going to talk about how you can get started, things to consider in the process (employees with animal allergies or phobias), and ways you can still be pet-friendly even if welcoming pets in the workplace isn’t feasible for your company.
- Get feedback. Before implementing a pet-friendly policy, you want to make sure that there’s enough interest in the idea. If you get mixed feedback, you might want to consider simply offering a pet-friendly day of the week or day of the month.
- Be clear on the rules. These are rules a pet generally has to follow in order to be welcomed in the typical pet-friendly workplace: he must be friendly, he must be housebroken, he must be neutered (spayed for females), he must be up to date with his vaccinations (you might include heartworm and flea treatments as well), and most importantly: he must get along with other people and pets.
- Decide on consequences. Just as there are rules, there needs to be a plan in place for when those rules are broken. Make sure your policy addresses what happens if a pet has an accident in the workplace, damages property, or is disruptive to employees. A consequence could be a simple warning, with a repeated offense meaning a pet loses his ability to come into the workplace.
- Get written consent. Before an employee brings their pet into the workplace, ensure you have them review your policy in its entirety and sign the agreement. This way, there’s never any confusion about the behavior expected from a workplace pet, as well as what an owner’s responsibilities are if his pet has a mishap. Part of this agreement might mean having the pet parent agree to be financially responsible for any damage or injury their pet causes.
- Pet-proof. Before you welcome any pets into the workplace, make sure you pet-proof the space. Invest in pet gates to keep animals out of certain areas and make sure to hide electrical cords and other hazards.
How to Handle Allergies and/or Phobias
Upon reviewing your employee surveys, you may very well come across the fact that some employees have pet allergies, or worse, phobias around certain kinds of animals.
In order to respect each employee of the company, you may consider setting aside a separate area in your building specifically for pets. For instance, the company Salesforce has a sound-proof room that pet owners can book for the day. It’s filled with dog beds, padded cages, water bowls, and more. The company Kurgo accessorizes its cubicles with pet gates, so that animals are confined to one space and therefore don’t bother other employees.
What’s important is to ensure that your company has plenty of pet-free zones for those who would rather not interact with animals during the workday.
Other Ways to be Pet-Friendly
Sometimes, it’s just not feasible to allow pets into the workplace. If this is the position your company is in, but your company still wishes to be pet-friendly in other ways in order to sweeten the deal for new hires or boost morale and loyalty in existing employees, here are some creative ways to offer pet-friendly perks:
- Pet Insurance. Just like people, pets occasionally need a visit to the doctor, but without insurance, vet bills can quickly become costly, giving pet parents undue stress. There are many brands of pet insurance available these days, though, and including pet insurance as a company perk is sure to win over pet owners to your brand.
- Boarding Credit. If your company requires its employees to travel a great deal, you may want to consider covering boarding/pet-sitting costs for an employee’s pet(s), which can quickly add up. Finding care for a pet while away can be stressful, so this perk is sure to give employees peace of mind.
- Dog Walking Service. Pet parents are always going to feel guilty about leaving their pets at home. Dogs that need to be crated during the day can especially become bored or depressed when they don’t have any mental stimulation for eight hours a day. Providing a dog walking service (or credit for a service of the employee’s choice) is a great way to help an employee worry less, thereby giving them the freedom to focus more on their work.
- Pet Bereavement. Pets are like family, and the loss of a pet can hit a person very hard. The hotel chain Kimpton understands this, which is why it offers employees bereavement leave after the loss of a pet. Offering this to employees will win your company a great deal of respect and can no doubt lead to increased loyalty.
- Bring Your Pet to Work Day. Maybe your company can’t have pets in the workplace year-round, but you can always set aside just one day a year where employees are allowed to bring in their pets. Alternatively, you can set aside a special function where pet parents meet off-site to socialize with their furry friends.