The Risks and Rewards of Allowing Pets at Work

As a small business owner, if you are looking for a way to keep employees motivated and decrease their stress throughout the day, allowing them to bring their pets to work might be the answer. There are a variety of rewards to allowing pets to the workplace, but there also some risks to be aware of. As long as your employees have trained their pets to “go” outside, the pets are well-behaved, and you set up a strict pet policy, this can become a reality in your business.

Rewards of Pet at Work

Your business and your employees stand to benefit from allowing pets in the workplace. The first big reward to having pets at work is that it can reduce stress experienced by employees in the workplace. If your employees deal with a lot of on-the-job stress, just having their dog in the office can make a huge difference in terms of their stress level.

Another reward is being able to open the line of communication between employees. It is much easier to connect with others and have a conversation in the workplace when there are pets around. It helps break the ice, and can bring employees closer together. This makes the work environment much more easy going and relaxed, and helps everyone work better as a team.

What’s more, having pets at work also gives employees a reason to get outside and get more physical exercise when they’re walking their dogs. Physical fitness improves your employee’ overall health, decreasing the amount of time they spend at home on sick leave. Physical fitness can provide the added benefit of an energy boost, increasing the productivity of your employees. Your business benefits by a more pleasant work environment and better productivity due to happier employees.

When an employee has her pet with her at work, she may stay at work that extra 30 minutes to finish that report you need because she isn’t worrying about rushing home to let her dog out. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers of nearly 5 dozen small and large firms, companies that allowed pets in their workplace, saw a lower rate of employee absences and had employees that were more willing to put in longer hours.

Pets also force employees to take breaks. While on the surface this doesn’t sound like such a great thing, in reality, a short break can help an employee refocus, according to a study published in Cognition. A renewed focus can help boost productivity, enhance creativity, and reduce errors. These breaks may be especially helpful for jobs that involve sustained mental or physical effort over many hours, such as data entry work, writing, or working on an assembly line or jobs that require creativity, such as positions in advertising and marketing.

Risks of Pets at Work

While there are many benefits to employees bringing their pets to work, there are also some drawbacks. First, not everyone likes dogs being in the office. Some employees will be allergic, while others won’t like the interruptions. This may cause undue stress for some workers. There is also the risk of accidents indoors, barking, or even biting, which is why you need a pet policy. Employees may also need additional breaks during the day to take their dogs out to go to the bathroom, and some workers won’t be able to work long hours if their pet starts to get antsy near the end of the day.

Setting Up a Pet Policy

To keep everyone happy and maintain a safe, healthy work environment, you need to have a pet policy if you plan to let employees bring their dogs or other pets to work. Make sure their dogs are trained and will not have accidents indoors. If an employee works closely to someone who is allergic, they should not be allowed to bring their pet. The dog should also be well behaved, and not prone to barking, biting, growling or chasing. Dogs should also be up to date on all vaccinations.

With these ground rules in mind, it might be a good idea to allow pets in the workplace on a probationary period, to find out if it is a good option.