National Take Your Dog to Work Day is held annually in June, but some employers aren’t limiting this to just one day each year. Here’s why a closer look at your workplace pet policy might be a good idea, especially post-pandemic.
Employees’ Dual Commitment to Their Work and Pets
According to a 2021 survey conducted by the ASPCA, 23 million US households adopted a cat or a dog during the COVID pandemic. For many, these pets helped them cope with the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions afforded them more time for a furry companion.
Even as restrictions continue to lift, these new pet owners have stayed committed to their new family members, with 87% of survey respondents saying they have no intentions of rehoming their pets. The pandemic also gave many existing pet owners an opportunity to reconnect with their pets as they spent more time at home, with many positions shifting to work from home full-time.
As so many employees got used to their remote workspaces, employers found themselves with a new set of challenges, including motivating employees to return to the office. Unfortunately, for many, a return to the office means leaving behind their four-legged friends.
The Great Resignation Forces Employers to Get Creative
Changing priorities, focusing on work-life balance and shifting work environments are just some of the factors that have resulted in what has been called “The Great Resignation”— a time when a staggering number of employees are leaving their employers, often without another job lined up. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that August 2021 had a resignation rate of 2.9%, the highest in over 20 years. These rates continued to increase and by November 2021, over 6.3 million workers had left their jobs. While we’ve seen significant job growth in the last year, the Great Resignation has forced employers to get creative and find new ways to both retain employees and attract new ones.
Why Allow Dogs in the Workplace
For many of us, having our dogs with us all the time is ideal. For employers, there are two primary reasons why businesses are considering adding more Take Your Dog to Work days to the calendar -- increasing employee satisfaction and being a more attractive employer to potential new candidates.
Pets in the workplace have also been linked to a decrease in stress levels and an overall increase in employee satisfaction – less stress and happier employees lead to a more positive, productive work environment and a more successful organization.
Improved Recruitment Efforts
Recruiting new employees is another serious challenge for many small business owners. Traditional strategies for bringing in new talent aren’t nearly as effective as they were just a few years ago. Implementing practices that allow employees to feel more connected to their home life while at work is one way employers can reach new talent. A recent study conducted by LiveCareer noted that 52% of job-seekers are actively looking for employers with pet-friendly accommodations and 49% reported that these policies could strongly impact their decision to work for a pet-friendly company.
What to Consider When Implementing a Bring Your Dog to Work Policy
Ask yourself, and answer honestly: is implementing a pet policy a good idea for your office? If you’re interested in keeping current employees happy, and increasing your desirability as a potential employer, then the answer may be yes! Preparing to implement this type of policy requires a bit of planning and preparing; allowing dogs in the workplace, beyond service animals, comes with specific guidelines to ensure success. Here are four best practices to consider once you’ve made the decision to move forward with Bring Your Dog to Work Day every day.
1. Check with Co-Workers and Employees
Statistics show that the majority of employees have had positive experiences with pet-friendly workplaces, but not everyone loves dogs (or wants to work with them). It’s important that employees understand that their coworkers may not adore their furry friends as much as they do. Pets will encounter human employees at some point during their office visit, so let employees know that it’s their responsibility to ask around to make sure everyone is comfortable with their pet visiting.
As the employer, you should do the same. Be specific and ask everyone since it’s your duty to provide a safe work environment for all of your employees. Make sure you’re giving all co-workers a chance to provide you with an honest answer as to whether or not they’re comfortable with pets coming to work and if there are any allergies to be aware of.
Take note of anyone that’s unsure or seems hesitant, and circle back to see what would make them feel better in a pet-friendly workplace. You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re being forced to participate or intimidated in any way.
2. Pet-Proofing is a Must
Ensuring a safe work environment for your employees is essential, which would include pet-proofing your workspace. This should be done throughout the office, no matter if you have an open–floorplan or offices with lots of doors. You can set aside some time for employees to go through their workspace and get it ready for their dogs to visit. Employees are all responsible for their pets, so all pet owners should participate in the prep work.
Relocate Hazardous Items
Employees should check any potential spaces their pet might enter on their visit. This should be done before they bring a pet to work. If there’s anything dangerous, fragile or expensive that may become a hazard, it should be relocated for the day. Remind employees to be kind and leave a note to let others know where things were moved.
Designate an Area for Potty Breaks
Predetermine the best place for potty breaks outside of the office. Designate a space for people to take their pets outside during the day and let employees know ahead of time where this spot will be. Provide bags and a trash can to help keep the area clean and remind your employees that cleaning up after their pets is a must!
Have a Safe Spot
Employees should find a safe spot for pets to hang out. They can bring a crate, gate or pop-up play area, as long as there’s enough room. This gives pets a break from the action and a space to safely wait while owners step out for meetings or take any important phone calls.
3. Ask Employees to Pack a Bag for Their Pets
This is one of those situations where there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.
Pet owners should plan on bringing the necessary food and supplies to make their pup comfortable. Pets are like children - they can’t get enough snacks! Make sure employees know they should bring all the necessary food, bowls, treats, etc. to keep their dogs content.
Leashes and Harnesses
Pets should be properly leashed when entering and exiting the office, but they also need potty breaks. Leashes and harnesses are just a must to keep pets secure.
Blankets or Beds
Pets should have the cozy comforts that they’re used to at home to help them have a great day at the office. Bedding or blankets will help ensure an employee’s pet is cozy and the experience is positive for everyone involved.
4. Consider Work Schedules
Remind employees to consider their work schedules and to adjust accordingly. Employees should make other accommodations for their pets during those extra busy times when their workload might be a little more than usual, like peak season, or days with lots of meetings.
Most small and mid-sized Kansas City companies know the benefits of strong employer-employee relations. Committing to a pet-friendly workspace or hosting fun events like a Take Your Pet to Work Day is a great way to foster that relationship.
As a certified professional employer organization (CPEO) and employee relations solutions provider, Axcet helps smaller companies strengthen their workforce relationships. If you’re a small business owner looking for help and guidance in this area, please give us a call. We’d love to help you strengthen your employee-employer relations the right way.