The Benefits of Bringing Pets to Work

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Workplace stress causes negativity, which can create a tense work environment for employees. Pets in the workplace create benefits for employers and employees alike. While pets have been seen as an employee-only benefit in the past, factors that positively affect employees correlate with improved office morale, absenteeism, and a healthy work-life balance.

Pets in the Workplace Benefit Work-Life Balance

Companies such as Inverse-Square, a custom application development company, have been open to pets in the workplace due to their affect on work-life balance. Both employers and employees stated it helps them pass long work hours happily, and the pets remind them to take necessary breaks.

Spending too much time too close to a project, problem, or other work can inhibit productivity and cause unnecessary stress. Pets remind people to pause and step back from whatever they are involved in. Short walks, a little playtime, and temporary distractions allow mental breaks so as not to overwork and become stressed. Other companies, like Etsy, allow pets in the workplace to keep spirits high and add a little comic relief. Laughter and positivity is just as contagious as negativity and stress, but come with benefits like great morale and better communication. Studies prove that pets have calming effects, reduce blood pressure, lower stress, and make employees more cordial and productive.

Pets in the Workplace Reduce Stress and Nurture Productivity

More and more frequently, employers and employees are discovering that pets at the workplace make them happier, lower stress levels, and create a comfortable, flexible environment. Pets can create camaraderie within the workplace and trigger interactions that may not have happened without them.

Better communication leads to more trust, a key component in a successful work environment. Trust and communication rival stress and promote productivity, causing improved morale and reduced absenteeism. Furthermore, reduced stress means less stress-related ailments and the healthcare costs that accompany them.

Healthcare Savings and Pet Ownership

Vets have recently obtained quantitative data to prove pets are good for your health. Prior to this information, studies were comprised of qualitative data that reinforced pets’ benefits on people. Now there is data that actually shows how pets have saved American dollars.

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) found that pet ownership is responsible for saving $11.7 billion yearly. 132.8 million pet owners save $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.

Pets can now be identified as a proactive method of staying healthy and avoiding health issues, thus saving money on a personal, professional, governmental, and medical scale.

Tips for Pets in the Workplace

Pets in the workplace are beneficial, but the proper steps should be taken by employers to ensure a healthy environment for pets and employees.

– Maintain good hygiene. Not only should employees be healthy at work to avoid spreading sickness, but pets should as well. Pets should be groomed, cleaned, as well as free of contagions and fleas or ticks.

– Confirm vaccinations are up to date.

– Introduce new pets slowly. Pets are still animals, and need to be acclimated appropriately to new environments. Especially when there are other pets and people involved. New and unique environments can stress pets out and cause unusual or destructive behavior

– Inform all employees of training and dietary needs. Employees have to respect and appreciate that their pet is not the only one in the workplace. They also need to understand just how well their pet is trained and what their dietary needs are. Some pets eat anything and as much as they can, leaving little to nothing for the less enthused pets. Respecting the workplace by training and observing pets can prevent any unseen issues.

Employer Awareness of Unique Factors

Naturally there are some reservations to be had regarding pets in the workplace. While the benefits are numerous and outstanding, there are some obstacles that every employer should take into consideration.

– Additional costs for pet care, pet-proofing office. Pet costs range from $500-$1500 a year for one pet per year. Including pets in the workplace requires employers to take on some of these costs, such as food, toys, treats, and any miscellaneous accidental damage that naturally occurs when caring for pets.

– Pet and employee safety. Animals may act out for a plethora of reasons or no reason, and they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Awareness and a plan to handle this incidences should be prepared and taken seriously. Industries involved in medicine, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and foods may not be safe for the animal, the employee, or the consumer. Furthermore, pets in the workplace opens the road to legal issues that can actually create more stress and a negative work environment.

– Avoiding distraction. It is easy to become over-distracted by pets in the workplace and hinder productivity instead of promote it.

– Allergies to pets. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that 15%-30% of the total population has some kind of pet allergy. Employers need to be sensitive to employees with these allergies and the effects it may have on their workplace experience.

Understanding human behavior is more than the basis of psychology – it is an essential component of virtually every business and organization. The USC online Master of Science in Applied Psychology prepares professionals to excel in the fields of consumer and organizational psychology. For more information please visit USC’s Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology.


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