|Creative Commons image by seanhagen|
Your office has gone to the dogs, and you couldn’t be more pleased.
From Fortune 100 behemoths to the mom-and-pop shop on the corner, the list of businesses embracing the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace continues to grow. Enhanced employee health, increased productivity and ramped-up creativity are just a few of the substantial benefits of establishing a pet-friendly workplace. Allowing your business to go to the dogs may be the smartest move you make this year.
Leaders of the pack
Top dogs Google, Amazon.com, Replacements, Ben & Jerry’s, Printing for Less and other forward-thinking businesses are incorporating pet-friendly workplace policies. If you want to run with the big dogs, consider following their lead.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com visionary and new owner of the Washington Post, knows a thing or two about running a successful company. Though the Internet bust of the late 90s once prompted him to cut down on arguably meager employee benefits, employees today rave about their pet-friendly workplace policies, praising the increased peace of mind and increased productivity the policy affords pet owners.
Sick as a dog
The CDC, American Heart Association, and other leaders in medical research have all heralded the health benefits of pet ownership. In a quantitative study published in the International Journal of Workplace Management, researchers found that the presence of dogs in the workplace significantly reduces employee stress. The effect was particularly pronounced by the end of the work day.
Not only is stress strongly associated with a wide variety of health concerns, it is also a creativity killer. Stressed out, barking mad employees don’t generate brilliant ideas to increase profits by discovering how to print a business card for less. Unleashing the creativity of your employees may be as simple as establishing a workplace where Fido and Fluffy are part of the team.
Barking up the right tree
In a challenging economy fraught with uncertainty, retaining your best employees is vital. Health insurance based “job lock” is fading to obscurity, and employees are freer than ever to seek greener pastures. Silicon Valley level perks such as in-office massages or yearly trips to a private island may be far-fetched for your employee retention plan, but instituting a pet-friendly workplace policy is likely within reach.
Though OSHA has no prohibition against pet-friendly workplaces, it is important to be sensitive and responsive to any employees who might have concerns about such a policy. In addition, OSHA recommends contacting your state and local health department for further guidance concerning any regulations specific to your business.
Before embarking on a pet-friendly policy, familiarize yourself with some of the basics. Instituting trial periods, requiring up-to-date vaccinations, and ensuring there are no serious barriers to implementation, such as allergies or severe phobias, are all important considerations.