Having a pet-friendly work environment has become a trend amongst new technology focused, modern workplaces such as Google. In fact, a survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 7 percent of organizations now allow pets in the workplace. While the majority of workplaces do not allow pets, those surveyed believed that allowing pets in the workplace increased happiness and productivity in the workplace.
The Pros of Animals in the Workplace
Many studies of animals in the workplace have been focused on the positives surrounding pets in the workplace. Research has shown that having pets at work boosts morale, improves the work atmosphere and increases productivity. Innovative companies such as Google and Zynga allow their employees to come to work with them. They believe it improves work-life balance, reduces stress and again, the magic words, improve productivity.
When surveyed, sixty percent of workers also said they love having pets in the workplace. As far as recruitment goes, allowing pets at work is a growing trend among millennial employees and so can attract younger talent.
In addition, having pets in the workplace increases communication among employees and may help employees bond which in turn motivates good work.
What you should be aware of when allowing pets in the workplace
After reading that first part you may be motivated to turn your office into a zoo, but there are some risks that you should be aware of.
Pets at work may help the atmosphere but they bring their own unique set of risks. Not every client or employee visiting your store will love Rover the Retriever as much as you do. Some people may have serious allergies or be afraid of animals. IIt should be noted that allergies can be considered official disabilities that should be respected in the workplace. At Google, for example, employees with allergies can have their say as to whether pets are allowed in their office. Moreover, if you are interviewing candidates, you should also let them know that there are pets in the workplace as this may not be something they are comfortable with.
You should make sure that only well-behaved pets are permitted also, this will help protect the safety of your employees. There may also be safety concerns and legal issues to consider as you can be held responsible for personal injury or property damage done by employees’ pets. You should also check that your commercial insurance policy covers any incidents like biting. In addition, if you are renting the office space you should check with your landlord to see if there are any restrictions regarding pets in the workplace.
Another important consideration is the suitability of the environment for pets. If you have sterile environments such as restaurants or medical labs, this is not the best place for a pet. In addition, noisy/hazardous conditions may be unsafe for pets and could lead to safety concerns.
Service Animals in the Workplace
Service animals should be considered separately from your regular pets in the workplace policy Employers have the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace, this includes allowing service animals in the workplace.
Service animals are for a person with a disability. For certain disabilities that are not visible, you may wish to request a letter from a physician confirming that the person requires the animal for their disability. Some handlers will carry a letter from a healthcare provider or have an identification card, especially if their disability is not visible.
Tips for Having Animals in the Workplace
If your company is considering allowing pets in the workplace, it is important to have policies in place to ensure workplace safety and reduce any distractions. Here are some tips:
- Check with your landlord to ensure that it is authorized
- Survey your employees to identify any concerns and gather feedback
- Get an understanding if there are any allergy or pet-related fears that may affect your current employees
- Develop a Pets at Work policy to clearly state the rules
Some of the things you may wish to address in your Pets at Work Policy are as follows:
- What types of pets do you permit?
- Is there a maximum number of pets permitted in the office at one time?
- Identify any rules including that pets should be housebroken, friendly and quiet
- Do pet owners have to ensure that pets are not in main office space when clients are around?
- We also advise creating a separate policy regarding Service Animals
Essential HR understand that having legislative-compliant as well as easy to understand policies is no easy task. We’re here to help and can provide employee policies to meet your individual requirements. If you’re looking to get a pet-friendly policy in place, contact us today for a no-obligation quote!