How to Create a Pets-at-Work Program

dog-715545_1280One of the best ways to make work more enjoyable is to implement a pets-at-work program. It’s not only about furry four-legged antics and cuteness, it’s also about the great benefits. Studies clearly show pets in the workplace reduce stress, boost morale, foster relationships, and increase job satisfaction. Just a few years ago, about 20 percent of all U.S. companies allowed employees to bring pets to work. Dogs account for 76 percent of workplace guests, while cats account for 15 percent. The rest are made up of various small pets, including fish and hamsters.

How to Create a Pets-at-Work Program

Research by the Central Michigan University demonstrates the net positive impact of a pets-at-work program. In a group of test subjects, split into two teams, one group worked with a dog around, the other did not. The results were no less than remarkable. The group which worked with a dog around showed higher mutual trust and worked better together as a team compared to the group working without a dog present. That’s just one way to make Mondays more productive, or any other day of the work week, for that matter.

Pet-friendly workplaces are becoming increasingly common, and well they should. A growing body of research documents benefits such as increased employee morale and productivity and decreased levels of stress in pet-friendly environments, and Vincent Bradley, CEO and president of Banfield Pet Hospital, a division of Mars, Inc., says the anecdotal evidence is just as compelling. —Inc.com

That research is backed by a related study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University. Their research found people who left their pets at home showed higher levels of stress, an astounding 70 percent more than those who brought pets along with them. Conversely, employees who took advantage of a pets-at-work program experienced an 11 percent drop in their stress levels. Lower stress, better team relations and more all equal a more productive and fun work environment. So, here are some suggestions for how to create a pets-at-work program:

  • Check your insurance. Your first task is to go over your insurance. You need to know what coverage you already have or will need, just in case there’s an incident between a team member and a pet and/or an incident between pets. In addition, have employees sign an agreement to pay for any damage caused by their pets.
  • Ask if anyone objects. Before you start letting people bring their pets into the workplace, ask if there are any objections. Employees might be seriously allergic to dogs or cats, which could decide whether or not you’ll even implement a pets-at-work program. Also, ask employees to refrain from bringing sick pets to work if you don’t receive any objections.
  • Designate pets-at-work days. For all the benefits pets bring into the workplace, there can certainly be downsides. One example is causing distractions. Additionally, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So, make it more special by designating specific days on the calendar. You can also limit the number of pets allowed on those days.
  • Create one or more pet-free zones. It’s a good idea to establish pet-free zones. After all, you are in the business of doing business and doing business while dogs run around will cause chaos. You can convert a room or two into pet-friendly zones, while making other spaces pet-free.
  • Make your workplace pet-safe. Just like little children, some pets let curiosity get the best of them. At the very least, be aware of the fact that rolling chairs and paws don’t mix well. Keep trash bins free of food and don’t leave snacks out on desks unattended.

Do you have a pets-at-work program at your business? What suggestions would you give others considering implementing a pets-at-work program? Please share your experiences and thoughts!

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