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Over the past year, millions of Americans sought companionship by adopting pets to cope with their feelings of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. But with lockdown restrictions easing up across the country, companies are now transitioning to a hybrid work setup or preparing for a complete return to the office. This has left some pet owners worried over their pets’ well-being, as reporting to work means leaving their beloved fur babies alone at home for hours on end.
If a large number of your employees now have fur babies under their care, making your company more pet-friendly is an undertaking that may be worth considering. You can, for example, welcome your staff and their new pets with a personalized kit filled with treats, toys, and custom branded bandanas bearing the company logo.
Taking the time and effort to convert your workplace into a pet-friendly space can also bring a host of other benefits to your business. Read on for some of the “paw-sitive” effects such an endeavor can have across your company:
It’s no secret that taking breaks is crucial to your team’s productivity. After all, studies show that our brains can only focus on any particular task for a maximum of 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break.
With that in mind, having pets in the office is one way to encourage your employees to take frequent breaks from their work. Throughout the day, your staff will have to leave their desks every once in a while to walk their pets or have them do their business outside. These activities can serve as a form of exercise for the body and the brain, helping your employees recharge before getting back to work.
According to an article by the University of Southern California, simply having pets around can help initiate unlikely interactions between people who otherwise may not have anything else in common. Indeed, the presence of someone's adorable puppy or friendly cat is often a great excuse for starting up a casual conversation. Having all these opportunities to interact with each other will also help your employees develop a sense of trust and camaraderie. These strengthened relationships, in turn, will enable people across and among various departments to work better together.
Research has found that animal-assisted interventions help reduce depression, anxiety, anger, and general distress for individuals receiving mental illness treatment. That said, those on your team who aren’t necessarily struggling with their mental health can also benefit from the companionship of pets. Simply having a furry friend to offer comfort and entertainment can make each workday feel like less of a grind.
Pet ownership has also been found to reduce US healthcare costs by over USD 11 billion, according to research by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative. The study also found that pet owners who walked their dogs several times a week were at a much lower risk for obesity. With this in mind, having pups around the office can encourage employees to take them out for frequent walks and get more exercise into their daily routines.
It Can Significantly Improve Employee Retention Rates
When businesses started opening back up earlier this year, many people who became first-time pet owners during the pandemic made the difficult decision of surrendering their fur babies to animal shelters. Often, this was because these pet owners no longer had the free time to care for their furry friends after work.
Additionally, many companies still don’t allow employees to bring their pets to the office, deeming animal companions as distractions that would only lower productivity. As discussed above, however, this notion is far from the truth.
If you have pet owners among your employees, now would be the perfect opportunity to prove that you care about their struggles and are willing to implement changes that will make their lives easier. By showing that you also value what they hold dear to their hearts, you can greatly increase the chances of your current staff staying with your company for the long haul.
In fact, the aforementioned Banfield Pet Hospital study saw higher retention rates in workplaces that welcomed pets, with 82 percent of their employees stating that a pet-friendly workplace made them more loyal to the company. This goes to show that converting your office into a pet-friendly workspace is an act that your employees won’t take for granted.
These are just some of the many benefits that your business can gain by becoming a pet-friendly workplace. Because the presence of these furry friends positively contributes to everyone’s mental and physical health, your employees can enjoy a boost in morale and significantly reduce their stress levels. This, in turn, can greatly improve productivity and encourage more frequent collaboration within teams and among departments. If your company isn’t pet-friendly yet, now’s the perfect time to start welcoming animal companions to the office.