Why Pet-Friendly Policies = Profit

Happier, Healthier and More Productive! Yes please-but how?

Spending time around nature and water are two ways to boost your mental and physical health. There is similar research concluding the amazing benefits of having animals in your life. Want to improve company morale and your bottom line? Fido and Fluffy just may be your answer.

Benefits of Pet Ownership to your Health:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted several studies on people with pets finding that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to non-pet owners. In addition, petting a dog can release the feel-good hormone, oxytocin. The best part of all of these physical benefits is that they happen automatically and quickly;  rather than having to go to the gym, eat a salad or bringing in a mindfulness expert. In addition to physical benefits, studies conducted at Miami University show that “pet owners exhibited greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, were less lonely, were more conscientious, were more socially outgoing, and had healthier relationship styles than non-owners.”

Bottom line is, owning a pet is good for your health and healthier employees show up more often and operate at a higher level than those that are at home in bed, stressed out or at the doctor.

How Pets Improve Your Bottom Line:

As evidenced, pet ownership makes you healthier and in turn lowers healthcare costs for companies. The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) found that out of the 132.8 million pet owners there was a savings of  $11.37 billion on physician office visits, while 20 million owners who walk their pets 5 times a week show lower obesity and save $419 million in healthcare.

Therefore, allowing pets into your life (and your office) can improve mental, physical and monetary health.

Additionally, studies have shown that interacting with animals influences social interaction between humans and shows a level of improved trust, empathy,  and overall more positive mood.

Even dog-slobber can improve your company morale. A study conducted by Central Michigan University concluded that those who had had a dog to slobber and pounce on them ranked their team-mates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy than those who had not. This study also found that those with a dog were 30% less likely to tattle on teammates who didn’t follow the rules of the game suggesting that having a dog around reduces office drama (and drama often leads to loss in productivity and even employee turnover which is expensive).

A few famous Companies With Pro-Pet Policies:

So how many companies actually allow pets in the workplace? Shockingly only 8% of USA companies allow pets in the works places even though  68%  of Americans own a pet.

Here are a few of the 8%  and the policies they have created that work for their employees, their pets and their bottom line.

  • Amazon Employees are welcome to bring their dogs to the office, which has special doggie drinking fountains. The dogs of Amazon even have their own calendar for sale, and some of the proceeds go to the ASPCA.
  • Etsy:  Etsy has a long-standing dog-friendly policy. Since the company’s birth in 2005, dogs have always been allowed in the office, as it’s one of the ways the online marketplace strives to maintain a casual, creative, and inspiring work environment.
  • Huffington Post: At Huffington Post’s offices in New York City and Los Angeles, the pet policy has been in force since 2011 when AOL acquired the media company. Besides traditional stress relieving benefits, the pro-pet policy also sets the tone for the office: comfortable, open and flexible, says Lena Auerbuch, HuffPo’s manager of lifestyle communications and partnerships.
  • Bissell: Bissell lets employees bring pets to the Pet Spot, a space designed with individual workstations, kennels with access to a fenced-in yard, a pet-washing station, and an outdoor walking path.
  • Salesforce: Puppyforce, the company’s official pet policy, lets up to six employees book a special room outfitted with everything dogs and their owners could want for a comfortable day at the office, including soundproofed walls, water bowls, padded cages, dog beds, and cleaning wipes.
  • Google: Some offices, including Googleplex, the company’s headquarters, allow employees to bring their dogs to work.
  • Hubspot Not only does HubSpot’s Cambridge headquarters let you bring your dog to work, but the company also created a “PupSpot” calendar featuring dogs from the office, with a portion of the proceeds donated to local animal shelters.

Tips for Pets in the Workplace:

Some studies conclude that up to 50% of employees want a pet-friendly workplace, some even preferring it over a raise. In fact, fifty-three percent of employees who worked at offices without pet permission said they’d be more likely to stay at their current company if employees were allowed to bring their pets to work.

Here are some tips on creating a pet-friendly policy:

  • Set some rules including requirements for vaccinations and only allowing pets that are safe around others.
  • Hygiene: pets should be healthy, well groomed and free from any injuries. Employees must also keep their hands clean after playing with or picking up after Fido.
  • Local laws: confer with local sanitation laws, especially if your business is involved with food.
  • Insurance: check your liability policies if there is an issue with a pet on-site.
  • Allergies: confirm none of your work mates are allergic to your pet.

Even if your boss won’t allow Tweety-bird or Cujo into your cubicle here are some ways you can incorporate more wildlife into your day.

  • Pet a dog or cat a couple of times a day. Before you head to the office and upon returning home make sure you interact with your animal. Your stress levels and blood pressure will lower as a result.
  • Look out at the window at birds. According to a study  conducted at the University of Exeter, the mere gazing at birds outside showed an improvement in stress levels  and those who did it on a regular basis were less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.
  • Google “baby animals”: On your next break look up some photos online of animals. According to a study conducted in Japan participants completed tasks quicker and with fewer errors after viewing “cute” images of animals. The highest results came after viewing “cute” baby animals. Maybe that video of a baby squirrel water-skiing was a beneficial use of your three minutes.

Is your company pet friendly? Do own a pet and notice any mental or physical improvements after even a quick petting session?  Have you ever considered working for a company merely because of its pet policy?  We’d love to hear all of your pet-related stories.

Send your thoughts to carrie@nextlevelcoachconsult.com.

Carrie D Clarke

Carrie D. Clarke, J.D. is lawyer turned business coach and personal strategist. Carrie collaborates with small business owners and executives to increase their profits and accomplish goals by focusing on values, applying evidence-based strategies and enhancing their strengths. Carrie is available for speaking engagements, 1:1 coaching and custom workshops.