Imagine a dreary workday at the office. You’re plugging along doing the same tasks you always do, when you look down and see…
Puppy dog eyes looking up at you—on an actual puppy. What the…?!
You’re either filled with delight and immediately begin petting your new four-legged friend behind the ears, or you’re jumping out of your chair, with fears of being peed on, bitten, or stricken with a sneezing attack.
Having pets at work has become more commonplace after lockdowns. But, is working alongside pets a good thing?
We wanted to get to the bottom of this and find out how much American workers value workplaces with pet policies and benefits.
A sneak peek at some of the findings:
- 52% of respondents said that pet-friendly benefits and policies are important when considering an employer.
- 49% said that a pet-friendly work environment could convince them to take a job offer.
- 52% felt more supportive of pets in the workplace due to the pandemic.
Workplaces that have gone to the dogs
If you were to work in a pet-friendly workplace, you’d see coworkers who have a seemingly closed-door policy coming out of offices. You’d also notice tensions dissolving when employees gather to play with an animal.
And, then someone who can’t resist the pets-at-work jokes like, “I’ll just Dachshund over to another meeting,” or “Sales are through the woof.”
Pets in the workplace can certainly lighten the mood.
But, for those who’d worked with pets, what was their experience like?
As can be seen from the infographic above, employees overwhelmingly had a positive perception of pets in their workplace.
- Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents said working with a pet was positive.
Although the survey takers might not have realized it, the psychological and physiological benefits of a pet in the workplace were at play.
Empirical evidence shows that pets elicit calm responses and reduce blood pressure. An American Psychosomatic Society study concluded that,
- Interestingly, 6% of older respondents said that the experience of working with a pet was “negative,” vs. a scarce 1% of those younger than 39.
Millennials are becoming more and more pet-centric according to recent research.
In a paper titled, “Are millennials really Picking Pets over People?” researchers found that there’s special “popularity of pets among millennials” and that:
And which animal do workplaces welcome the most to boost that mental health?
Who’s top dog?
- Out of those who’d worked with a pet onsite, 84% worked with a canine, and 50% a feline.
- 77% worked remotely with a dog, compared to 55% with a cat.
(Some respondents had worked with both dogs and cats.)
Other pets that were at onsite workplaces included:
So, “man’s best friend” is also man’s best coworker.
Prominent companies are on board with this pup-ular concept.
Google, Etsy, and Amazon have widely-publicized permitting their employees to bring pups to work. Plus, the Friday following Father’s Day each year is “Take Your Dog To Work Day.” A tradition since 1999.
Survey takers were overwhelmingly upbeat about the prospect of having pets in the workplace. But we wanted to find out what they thought could be the biggest pros and cons of workplace pets.
Pros and cons of workplace pets
So, 33% of the survey takers said that a “relaxed environment” was the best perk of workplace pets.
But, is that true?
According to a study by Virginia Commonwealth University, pets are a significant stress buster for their owners at work. The researchers found the benefits also extended to coworkers, who reported enjoying interactions with the pets. Some of the coworkers in the study even asked if they could take the dogs out for a walk.
Our respondents hit the nail on the head.
Now onto the biggest con that the survey takers felt would prevent employers from adopting a pet at work policy.
- 35% thought that “allergic reactions” would be the biggest issue with allowing pets at work, followed closely by “too distracting” at 31%
Allergies to dogs and cats affect 10%-20% of the population worldwide. Therefore, if you have a workplace with 100 people, you might have about 15 people with allergies to pets. This is a legitimate concern.
In a study about perceptions of dogs in the workplace, researchers studied people’s opinions on workplace pet advantages and disadvantages.
The potential negatives for having pets in the workplace should be weighed heavily before employers decide to take the plunge and invite Sparky to the worksite.
This survey taker definitely summed it up:
There are pros and cons to having pets in the workplace. It’s important to be aware of these points, given the fact that more workplaces are accepting pets onsite after pandemic lockdowns.
The pandemic pet effect
It seems due to the pandemic, the planets have aligned for pets in the workplace.
The rapid rise of pandemic pet adoptions means people stayed home with some serious pet-human bonding time.
We asked: “How has the pandemic affected your thoughts on pet-friendly businesses?”
- 43%—About the same
- 34%—More supportive
- 18%—Much more supportive
- 5%—Less supportive
- 1%—Much less supportive
From the data, it’s clear that 52% felt more supportive of pet-friendly businesses due to the “pet pandemic effect.”
Because of this, many employers are now expressing their desire to let furry friends join employees at their workplace.
Pet-friendly benefits and policies are becoming a thing job seekers look for too.
Employees want pet-icular benefits and policies
We wanted to know how important pet-friendly workplaces were to the respondents.
Those survey takers have some serious puppy love for pets in the workplace.
As can be seen above, 49% agreed with workplaces with pet-friendly environments making them want to take a job. But, women felt more strongly about it than men.
- 51% of women agreed with the statement compared with 46% of men.
Also, there was a significant difference in the Gen X and older group and the millennials.
- 44% of the older group agreed, compared to a whopping 55% of millennials.
We see that 41% across the board agreed with this: “Pets in the office could contribute to my sense of satisfaction with my job.”
Again, women and the under 39 group were more pro-workplace pets.
- 44% of women agreed vs. 38% of men.
- 36% of Gen X and older agreed, compared to 49% of millennials.
Half of the respondents agreed with this statement: “Pets in the office could boost socialization with coworkers who aren’t usually social.”
For this statement, 28% of women strongly agreed and just 17% of men strongly agreed.
- 30% of millennials agreed, vs. 17% of those Gen X and older.
In the entire pool of respondents, 46% agreed with “Pets in the office could make me more likely to recommend my employer to a friend.”
And the trend continues for millennials being more pet-positive.
- 54% of millennials agreed, vs. 40% of the Gen Xers and over.
For the overall group, 51% said that pet-friendly benefits and policies were important when considering an employer?
And, the millennials don’t disappoint.
- 58% of millennials felt this was important, compared to 45% of the Gen X crowd and older
Why is it that millennials feel more strongly about pet policies and benefits?
Our research is closely aligned with an American Pet Products Association (APPA) study, which found that:
- 44% of pet parents would like their employers to implement a pet-friendly workplace
- 41% would contemplate switching jobs if it meant they could bring their pet to work
- 62% have a more positive perspective toward companies that permit pets
- 52% would be likely to stay at their employer for a longer stint if an employer had a pet-friendly policy
Let’s look at one special pet benefit.
Pawternity leave & pet insurance
Bringing a new pet home is an exciting but stressful time. It takes time for the pet to get acclimated and adjust, and there’s housebreaking to contend with.
Some workplaces get it. They want you to take some time to enjoy and bond in that special time of newness.
It’s called “pawternity leave” and the length of time given depends on the company. It can range from a few hours to a few days.
We provided information to the respondents about what pawternity leave is and asked them their opinion on this benefit.
“Would you like pawternity leave to be implemented at your workplace?”
- 77% said “Yes”
- 82% of millennials said they’d like pawternity leave, compared to 73% of Gen X and older
We also asked respondents their opinion on pet healthcare insurance as an employee benefit. 69% said it was “positive.” And 77% said they thought it should be instituted at their workplace.
Personal experiences with workplace pets
In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s best to stay ahead of the competition. It’s clear from the employees that they had a positive experience working with pets and most would like workplaces that offered a pet-friendly environment and benefits.
The US is experiencing its sixth month in a row of record-breaking resignations. In order to keep talent, instituting a pet-friendly policy could help companies retain and attract staff during the Great Resignation.
Not sure what pet benefit or policy to implement? Well, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Ouch!
There are a multitude of pet policies and pet-friendly approaches employers can consider.
If you’re in HR or running a company and considering putting pet policies in place, it’s recommended to first distribute a “pet-itude” questionnaire to assess your employees’ attitudes towards dogs and other animals.
If the attitude is pet-positive and the workplace can be made pet-friendly, it’s best to follow some guidelines:
- Create a detailed policy for bringing pets to work, including requirements for pet vaccinations and an action plan for pet-related incidents.
- Decide on requirements for pet gates, small animal habitats, and aquariums.
- Ensure there are accessible outdoor areas for pet breaks.
- Invest in pet gates.
- Designate pet-free zones for those with allergies.
- Clear pet-zone areas of potentially dangerous items such as wires/cables, human food, or furniture that could be knocked over.
- Provide pet clean-up stations with items like stain and odor eliminator sprays plus deodorizing wipes for “accidents” around the office.
And then enjoy the furry, four-legged workplace interactions.
We surveyed 1065 respondents online via a bespoke polling tool on their thoughts and opinions on pets in the workplace. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question. The study was created through several steps of research, crowdsourcing, and surveying.
The data we are presenting relies on self-reports from respondents. Each person who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. There are many potential issues with self-reported data like selective memory, telescoping, attribution, or exaggeration.
Some questions and responses have been rephrased or condensed for clarity and ease of understanding for readers. In some cases, the percentages presented may not add up to 100 percent; depending on the case, this can be due to rounding, or due to being part of a larger statistic, or due to responses of “neither/uncertain/unknown” not being presented.
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- Allen, K., Blascovich, J., Mendes, W., Cardiovascular Reactivity and the Presence of Pets, Friends, and Spouses: TheTruth About Cats and Dogs
- Flannigan G., Dodman, N.G., Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs
- Gallup, “Snakes Top List of Americans’ Fears”
- Hall, S. Wright, H., McCune, S., Zulch, H., Mills, D., Perceptions of Dogs in the Workplace: The Procs and the Cons
- Ho, J., Hussain, S., Sparagano, O., Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Spark a Public Interest in Pet Adoption?
- Virginia Commonwealth University, Benefits of taking your dog to work may not be far-fetched
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