This article is contributed by guest writer, Jackie B. (Writer of Animal So).
The Benefits and Challenges of Having Pets in the Workplace
While many workplaces are making it easier to bring pets to work, there are a number of drawbacks to this emerging trend. Here we look into both the advantages and disadvantages of having pets in your workplace, so you can decide which is the best move for your business.
Why keep pets in the workplace?
Pets help lower blood pressure
Several scientific studies have revealed that having pets close and interacting with animals can decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Furry friends have a wonderful ability to soothe and calm, which should naturally lead to fewer arguments in the office, a lower risk of heart disease and a generally healthier workplace. Who wouldn’t want that?
They can improve happiness and employee morale
It’s great for pet owners to be able to take their pets with them wherever they go, including to work. A lot of dog parents request to bring their pet to the office, and they rationalize it by saying it would cause worry and stress for them if they had to leave their poor dog at home all day. Many may decide to get pet sitters, who can be expensive, or opt to crate train their dog; others will leave their dog at home while they head to work, but may be plagued by guilt or worry about what their furry friend is up to while they’re not there.
After all, it can be expensive to replace an employee, costing around $15,000 in the US and £12,000 to replace an employee in the UK. It makes sense that employers will want to do what they can to keep their employees around rather than have to search for a replacement and go through the expensive training process once again. Employees that are happy at their workplace are going to be more productive too; a study from the University of Warwick found that happiness results in a 12 percent spike in employee productivity.
Think of how convenient it is for employees to have the option to bring their pets to work. They don’t have to leave work early to rush home and feed their pets, plus they won’t need to take a day off when their pet falls sick. Moreover, employees won’t need to hire a sitter to watch over their pets, and they will be able to save money and work longer hours too, if needed.
Why you might not want pets in the workplace
Pets are not fun for those who suffer from pet allergies. Around 10% of all Americans have pet allergies, and most employers are wary about turning their workplace into an environment that isn’t safe for their workforce. If pets were to come into your office, would some of your employees have to dose up on antihistamines or suffer from sneezing fits and wheezing? It’s important to find out if anyone in your team has animal allergies before agreeing that pets are allowed in the office.
Pets can be a distraction
While pets might help their owners stay more focused when they are around, they could be a distraction to others. Pets need attention, they can cause fights, run off, and they can create a mess. All of that costs money and time and can lead to distractions in the office. Keep in mind that there are extra costs involved with keeping pets in the workplace too; providing the necessary supplies to take care of animals can range from $500-$1,000 each year. This covers pet-proofing office, from investing in a puppy playpen (to keep them out of meeting rooms), to food, toys, treats, and any miscellaneous accidental damage. Will this fall on the employees or yourself?
Have you tried dealing with sick pets?
Having sick workers in the office can be bad enough, but what about sick pets? They may not spread diseases to your employees as easily as humans can, but they can spread their illnesses like wildfire to other animals. This can lead to more mess and distraction.
We’ve mentioned it before and we’ll mention it again: Pets are messy! Have you considered who will be cleaning up after the animals after everyone goes home? After all, you want your workplace to smell great, don’t you? Pets are going to behave like animals, and that can’t be helped. Even those that are well housetrained may misbehave and forget their training when placed in a new environment like the workplace. Accidents will happen, and they will be a challenge any workplace with pets is going to have to deal with.
You will have some challenges with pets being in the work area, and there are definite advantages to having them there as well. You’ll want to weigh all of that before you make your decision, thinking of the good of your company and your employees. We know this can be a tough call to make, but hopefully this article helps you feel more informed about this timely topic.