Does allowing Lassie at work benefit a business?
Let’s face it, as you are preparing to leave for work every day, saying goodbye to your pet can be stressful. Many people consider their pets a member of the family, and do not like leaving them home alone while they are at work. Others feel guilty for being gone all day and that no one is there to care them. It can be extremely stressful or costly making sure your pet is cared for and possibly hiring someone to walk and/or feed them during the day.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could bring your pet to work every day and not have to constantly worry about them?
Recent studies have shown that approximately twenty percent of businesses have adopted a pet friendly working environment and are allowing their employees to bring their pets to work. As a result, studies have also shown a huge increase in employee satisfaction, morale, attendance and work performance. Employees no longer have to rush home during a lunch break and/or at the end of the day to care for a pet and they no longer have the expense of hiring someone to care for them.
Scientific evidence indicates that allowing employees to have their pet by their side during the work day reduces employee stress levels and anxiety, which allows the employee to fully concentrate on their work. By adopting a pet friendly working environment, employers benefit greatly by the effects it has on their employees; however, there is some risk in having animals on company property.
Not Always A Walk In The Park –
As previously mentioned, employers benefit in many ways by allowing employees to bring their pets to work but with that comes some risk; therefore, it is critical to create a formal pet friendly company policy, which outlines what is acceptable and unacceptable pet behavior. A comprehensive policy should include:
- What type of animals are allowed
- How pets are to be contained and/or leashed
- Clean up procedures for pet waste and where pets are to relieve themselves
- How to handle employees who have allergies or animal phobias
- What areas are designated as “pet free zones.”
The policy should also include procedures to follow when there is damage to business property, repeated “accidents” in the office, aggressive pet behavior and pets who are distracting (barking, whining, etc.) to others.
In the event a pet is aggressive to another employee and/or guest, the company policy must define what is considered aggressive behavior (biting, scratching, jumping) and outline the consequences to such behavior.
It’s raining cats and dogs and birds and pigs…Where do employers draw the line?
Should an employer restrict what types of animals are allowed at work? The answer – YES! Guidelines must be established for liability reasons. Can you imagine if someone decided to bring their pet alligator to work? While most pet friendly businesses only allow dogs at work, many are now adopting a more inclusive pet policy by allowing cats, fish, birds and small caged rodents. Some employers adopt a “case by case” policy and review the pros and cons, as well as the risk factors for allowing specific types of animals at work.
One thing not to forget: Be sure to contact your accident and liability insurance company to determine if and what type of pets on the business property are covered and the proper process to follow for reporting if an accident/incident occurs.
Overall, allowing a pet at work can greatly benefit the business, as well as the employee, by creating a positive working environment and, therefore, increasing work productivity. And while accidents can happen (someone could be injured – or property could be damaged), employers should thoughtfully assess if this assumed risk actually outweighs the benefits of having pets at work. At the end of the day, business owners need to determine what is in the best interest of their business and culture before implementing a pet friendly policy and whether their insurance will cover the liability.
On a personal note, I have to admit, it sure is nice having my dog snuggled up on my feet while I write this blog.