8 Benefits Of A Dog-Friendly Work Environment & Considerations When Bringing Dogs To Work

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Three business colleagues and a dog sitting in front of a wooden conference table with their tongues out (Caption: Dog-Friendly Work Environment Benefits)

Did you know that 38.4% of households in the U.S. own at least one dog? That’s almost 49 million families. While working from home during the pandemic, those owners got to spend more time with their dogs. But now, as people return to work, their pets will have to readjust.

This readjustment may reveal newfound separation anxiety. More than a quarter of dog owners are worried that their canine companions will suffer separation anxiety when they return to work, and some are even willing to take a pay cut to continue working from home.

With so many dog owners in the U.S. returning to work, perhaps it’s time to reexamine the benefits of dogs in the workplace.

1. Persuades Top Talent To Apply

There’s nothing like a job opening that offers exciting perks for prospective employees, perks that stop the scroll and encourage top talent to apply. A dog owner may more closely examine a job opening if they can identify that the employer manages a dog-friendly workplace.

Withholding a perk as simple as a dog-friendly workplace may cost employers the talent they’re looking for. Employers should set clear expectations as to what is required of dog owners if they bring their pups to work. As long as everyone is on the same page, a dog-friendly workplace can attract top talent and foster an encouraging workplace environment.

2. Increases Morale And Interconnectedness

Imagine you’re sitting at your desk having a rough day at work, when a sweet pup trots into your cubicle and turns your rough day into a “ruff” day. You’d probably experience a nice boost in morale that might inspire you to encourage your coworkers, having a net-positive influence on important workplace relationships.

A friendly visit at work from a coworker’s dog may encourage more conversation between you and them. It may even foster a connection between the two of you that helps to strengthen the work you do on future tasks or projects together.

3. Decreases Employee Turnover

Research shows that employees tend to leave their jobs because of their management, not the company, and those on the job hunt want to know where the great managers work. While not at the expense of leadership and professionalism, it pays to be an intuitive manager, and this could mean listening to employees’ requests to allow pets to join them at work.

According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employee can be “one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.” Allowing dogs in the workplace may not only decrease employee turnover and boost morale, but it could also save money for employers in the long run.

4. Encourages Breaks And Physical Exercise

Did you know that TotalWellness pays its employees to exercise for 30 minutes each day? Short exercise during the workday can improve job performance, boost morale, and inspire productivity. Dog owners who bring their pups to work will need to walk them or occasionally entertain them. This facilitates workplace exercise and comradery, creating an environment for your team that supports both health and wellness.

There are simple exercises and dog-walking tips you can use to keep your blood flowing throughout the workday.

5. Saves Money

An employee who is allowed to bring their dog to work won’t have to pay for doggy daycare or the extra gas it’ll take to drive back home and let their dog out on their lunch break. As a result, they will be able to save this money and instead work without concern over the wellbeing of their furry friend.

6. Lowers Stress Levels

In the workplace, dogs can lower stress levels; lower stress levels are vital for a healthy workplace environment. In 2021, Virginia Commonwealth University studied the benefits of dog-friendly workplaces, citing lower stress levels as one result.

“Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D. “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.” Low stress can lead to clearer thinking and improved problem-solving.

7. Provides Social Media Photo Opps

Employees who are allowed to have their dogs at work can take cute pictures with their pups and post them to their social media accounts. Not only does this make the employees happy, but it also reflects on the encouraging, inclusive workplace culture of the company they work for.

Dog owners are likely friends with other dog owners on social media. Who’s to say that their dog-owner friends aren’t as talented as they are and aren’t looking for a job at a dog-friendly workplace? Or that another dog-owner friend of theirs owns a business that could be a potential client?

When businesses harness social media properly, it helps employers make connections, build networks, and effectively communicate brand messaging. In some cases, social media photos may even serve as free advertising.

8. Expresses Forward-Thinking Tendencies And Compassion

An inclusive and forward-thinking workplace attracts like-minded individuals and illustrates positive attributes of the company to clients, employees, business partners, and potential hires. Hucksterism in the workplace is long gone; now, the focus is on compassion.

People like to be around others who think and act as they do. Likely, a company that allows its employees to have their dogs at work will foster an environment of care, compassion, and kindness.

What To Know Before Bringing Dogs To Work

There are obvious benefits to dog-friendly workplaces, but we can’t have rambunctious canines running the office. Certain considerations need to be made by both the dog-owning employee and the employer.

All Employees Need To Agree

All employees need to be comfortable with having a dog in the workplace before dogs are actually brought to the workplace. What if one or several of your coworkers have a pet allergy? Before bringing your dog to work, make sure that the HR department properly communicates with coworkers to make sure that the appropriate steps are taken.

Add Pet Holidays To The Company Calendar

The only thing better than human holidays is pet holidays! Something you can do to show extra appreciation (and initiative) at work is adding pet holidays to the company calendar. If the rest of your office is okay with it, you could even plan to formally celebrate a pet holiday at the office.

Be Aware Of Safety Hazards

Safety should be your first concern before bringing your dog to work. Ask yourself if your dog is truly comfortable around others as well as how they may act when approached by strangers.

Bringing a dog to work also brings the risk of damage to company property. A curious or bored canine may start chewing on electrical cords or may knock over a chair or several desk items. Ensure your office is prepared beforehand.

Dogs Should Have Certain Temperaments

If your dog is more aggressive or less friendly around strangers, it may not be a good idea to bring them to your office. Dogs in the workplace should have certain temperaments that encourage a stress-free, safe, and friendly workplace. If your dog loves to bark and/or zoom around the house, consider whether bringing your dog to work is a good idea.

Eliminate Distractions

While dogs in the workplace bring benefits, they may also bring distractions to yourself and others. Make sure you’ll be able to keep your dog quiet and entertained when it comes time to focus.

Offer Training Courses

If another dog owner you know is having trouble keeping their dog calm while at work, consider referring them to some training courses that may help relax their pup and make them more workplace friendly.

Keep Up-To-Date Vaccination Records

Make sure your dog’s medical records are up to date so you know they won’t pose a risk to others at work. A healthy dog should be the only type of dog allowed in the office.

Make Sure Pets Aren’t Stressed

If your dog is experiencing unusually high stress levels and is behaving erratically as a result, you may want to reconsider bringing your dog to work. These stress levels could induce behavior in your dog that distracts others in the office.

Be Prepared

You never know what may happen when you bring your dog to work. Take the necessary preparation steps: remember crucial supplies, like dog food and toys; bring special walking shoes, if you use them; find out if your dog needs special considerations before you bring them to work.

Pet insurance can help you cover the costs of emergency health needs, and some plans will even provide additional coverage benefits to help with behavioral training or vaccinations, depending on your needs.

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