In the last few years, pet ownership has skyrocketed! With the workforce shift to remote work, we have become accustomed to working alongside our pets. Greater emphasis on employee wellbeing and work-life balance means bringing beloved pets to the office is no longer a far-off concept.
Many employees will consider an employer’s flexibility with benefits like pet friendly workplaces factoring into their decision when considering a new job. Many workplaces are making the shift to allowing pets in the office, if you are thinking about making your workplace pet friendly, ensure you consider the following.
There are many psychological benefits of having pets at work like increased productivity, reduced stress and anxiety, increased job satisfaction and improved workplace connections. With this in mind, bringing pets to the office can be a great way for employers to boost workplace culture. Although bringing pets to work might seem like a no-brainer, to avoid disruption, complaints and your office turning into a zoo we recommend establishing a policy.
Creating a policy that outlines clear rules and standards for employee behaviour is crucial before implementing any new HR initiative. Policies reduce the potential for issues or misunderstandings to occur and lay down ground rules. Your pet friendly office policy should include clear do’s and don’ts for employees to follow. Consider what is non-negotiable for your workplace this may include pet vaccinations, toilet training, or pets being over a certain age.
Minimum standards of behaviour for pets and humans are equally important to set in your policy. You don’t want an employee’s pet running wild, using the toilet in the wrong place or scaring co-workers. To assess a pet’s behaviour ask these questions: Is the animal well socialised? Toilet trained? Non-aggressive towards other humans and pets? Able to behave calmly in the office environment? Employees should also have guidelines for behaviour around pets to avoid distraction and maintain productivity, bringing your pets into the office should not turn into a free pass to stop work.
When initiating a pet friendly office policy ensure it is viable for your workplace. Review your building rules and if necessary, discuss with your building manager if pets in the building are possible. Buildings may have strict rules for pets, so it is important to consider this first.
As with any HR policy, it is important to have employee consultation and buy-in. Find out employees’ opinions and comfort levels of having pets in the office. It is important not to assume that pets will improve productivity and reduce stress for all employees. For some, pets may cause anxiety or allergies and all employees have the right to feel safe in their workplace.
How do you decide who gets to bring their pet to work? It is important to address the equity of bringing pets to work. If only certain employees can bring their pets because of animal type, office space or transport this may cause resentment and negatively impact your workplace culture. Consider having a roster and limiting the number and types of animals in the office at one time to keep it fair and avoid distractions.
If becoming pet friendly sounds like a great idea in your office, consider having trial days. Pets may react differently when in different environments so it is important to assess their suitability in the office where there are unfamiliar sounds, smells and people. Review pets’ performance, were there any toilet accidents, were they comfortable and not anxious, did they enjoy being there, and did they cause too much distraction?
Being a pet friendly workplace can have many benefits to employees and workplace culture if done right. Having rules and policies in place for your pet friendly office will ensure your employees and pets stay safe and avoid potential issues.
If you would like more information or assistance creating an HR policy contact the ProcessWorx HR consultants on (08) 9316 9896.