Creating a pet-friendly work environment

As my 8-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback lays snoring beside me, I can’t help but be grateful that she is past that young puppy stage that made it impossible to do anything but keep my eyes on her, replace shoes with chew toys and monitor her potty breaks all day.

Through those first few weeks with her at home, I consider myself lucky to have had the flexibility to manage my schedule and work from home as needed, but for others in a more structured office or workspace, bringing home a new puppy or other pet can be tough.  Those first few days are the hardest and trying to establish a routine, develop trust and get your new fur-baby acclimated to their new home while working can be a challenge.

As organizations look to provide perks that will not only attract and retain key talent, many are coming to realize that offering more pet-friendly benefits, like allowing dogs in the workplace, is key.  Pet-friendly benefits can be effective (and inexpensive) options for attracting new talent, improving culture and even promoting employee wellness.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen these pet-friendly trends increase.  Many millennials are delaying having children, opting instead to welcome a dog or other pet into their lives as their “starter” family.  Given that millennials are the largest segment of our workforce, this is significant and may explain the increase in some of these pet-friendly policies.

But not every company can allow for pets in the workplace.  Most professional office spaces don’t allow for dogs in the office building or space.  But don’t worry, even if you can’t allow pets in the workplace, you can still offer pet-supportive benefits that promote a pet loving culture.  This could be as simple as crafting a new policy or any of the following ideas:

  • Pet health insurance
  • Pet bereavement leave
  • Pawternity policies – allowing employees to work from home for the first week after bringing home a new fur-baby
  • Animal-related volunteer excursion
  • Dogs in the workplace policy

There are so many ways to create an awesome culture, knowing what is important to your employees is key!  If your employees consider their pets as part of the family, having policies that align with this value can improve your culture, employee satisfaction, and even promote employee wellness.  Have fun, get creative and embrace the flexibility of our workforce!

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My sweet office mate on her favorite JazzHR blanket!

Regardless of whether an office allows pets, service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, although some state and local laws allow emotional support animals in the workplace.

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