Why is the UK so slow to adopt Pets at Work policies? Twitter seems to be full of the hashtag #PetsAtWork from employees of large, forward-thinking companies involved in the pet food or welfare industry. This may seem an obvious business move for these organisations to improve PR on social media platforms, however, evidence points heavily toward the benefits for other companies and employees.
Studies have shown that employees who bring their pets to work tend to have a lower stress level by the end of the day, and that having pets can help reduce blood pressure, decrease loneliness, help to lower cholesterol levels and encourage physical activity.
Leading pet food manufacturer, Purina recognises the benefits of allowing employees to bring their pets to work. They launched a “Pets at Work” initiative in 2012 with the goal of educating and helping other employers and facility managers adopt pet-friendly policies.
Due to the popularity of the national Bring your Dog to Work Day held in June each year (23 June in 2017); more and more employers are identifying the benefits of allowing dogs at work, with many individuals reporting improved relations within their team, raising employee engagement, and even a higher success rate in negotiating on business deals as a result of having a dog on site!
As well as reducing stress levels, employees also view this as a perk due to saving money on pet sitters, or fretting about their furry friends while they are out of the house all day. The positivity that this creates could even be seen as a very inexpensive employee benefit!
But what are the disadvantages? Some companies reported problems with the dogs stealing food out of office bins, barking at motorcycle couriers and behaving aggressively towards other dogs in the office. Additionally, pets are not always everyone’s cup of tea so this must be considered when implementing a pet friendly policy in the workplace. Although most companies found these issues easy to resolve, it is worth noting that a dog may invalidate a company’s liability insurance and negate its fire safety certificate, unless a proper risk assessment is carried out.