Dogs at Work May Boost Engagement, But Don’t Forget the Downsides

Dogs at Work May Boost Engagement, But Don’t Forget the Downsides

Today marks the 20th annual observance of Take Your Dog to Work Day, an event launched by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to promote dog adoption by encouraging organizations to let their dog owner employees bring their canine companions to work for the day. Take Your Dog to Work Day highlights Americans’ increasing level of devotion to their pets, especially among Millennials, the largest generation of pet owners today. Rising rates of pet ownership are inspiring employers to offer benefits like pet insurance and even pet bereavement leave.

Indeed, many dog owners would love it if every day were Take Your Dog to Work Day, and some research purports to show that pet-friendly workplaces have many upsides, from increased employee engagement and loyalty to reduced stress levels and greater overall wellbeing. For instance, a new study from Nationwide and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute suggests that employers with pet-friendly workplaces enjoy greater engagement among all employees, not just dog owners, Nick Otto and Yasemin Sim Esmen report at Employee Benefit News:

According to the study, 91% of the workforce feels more fully engaged in the work compared to 65% of employees who work in a non-friendly workplace, which is defined in the study as one that allows pets in the workplace (regularly or occasionally) and/or offers a pet-friendly employee benefit, such as health insurance. One of the interesting things that the study noted was the camaraderie and positive relationships with both supervisors and coworkers (52% and 53%, respectively) at pet friendly companies versus non-pet-friendly workplaces (14% and 19%).

Still, just a fraction of US employers allow employees to bring their pets to work, but some high-profile organizations do: Amazon has allowed dogs in the office at its Seattle headquarters for about 20 years, Jennifer Calfas reports at Time, and over 1,000 dogs come to work there with their owners on a regular basis. What works for Amazon, however, may not work for all workplaces. As Calfas notes, some dogs aren’t suited to spending time in an office, while some employees will object to having them around:

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Demand Growing for Voluntary Pet Insurance Benefits

Demand Growing for Voluntary Pet Insurance Benefits

At Employee Benefit News, Richard Stolz highlights the growing popularity of pet insurance as a voluntary benefit for employees:

In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%, according to the North American Pet Insurance Association. The trade group also calculates that the number of pets insured in North America grew by 11.5% last year. One factor behind the growth seems to be deferred childbearing by millennial generation employees, and the increasing number of “empty nesters” who substitute pets for human children. …

At cloud computing solution provider VMware, pet insurance is a “natural fit” within a wide variety of voluntary benefits, according to Rich Lang, the company’s senior vice president of HR. “Offering pet insurance helps us stay competitive in the marketplace and attract and retain workers,” he says. He also believes pet insurance can give the employees who purchase it a productivity boost. “A healthy pet equals a happy employee,” he says

While few US employers currently offer pet health insurance, SHRM’s 2017 benefits survey shows an upward trend, with 10 percent of employers offering it compared to 9 percent last year and 6 percent in 2014. About 8 percent of employers allow employees to bring their pets to work, while 3 percent have a “bring your pet to work day” event and 1 percent offer to cover pet care expenses while employees are traveling on business. Given many millennials’ devotion to their “fur babies,” it’s not surprising to see employers trying to cater to the needs of their pet-owning employees. There can be too much of a good thing, however: Dog-friendly offices may be fun for employees, but they are often not much fun for their dogs.