Creating a Dog-Friendly Workspace Doesn’t Have to be ‘Ruff’

Posted on September 9, 2019 by Rick Rossignol

working and holding her dog in her lap.

As the working world has evolved, it’s no secret that priorities have shifted and what employees looked for in a workplace a decade ago is different from what they desire now. For example, millennials, who make up just about one-third of the American workforce, tend to place great importance on work-life balance and career growth and opportunities, rather than just a high salary.

The focus on work-life balance comes into play when we consider our loved ones at home – our furry friends, to be more specific. Many companies that have implemented pet-friendly policies can vouch for the overall happiness, stress reduction, employee retention that in-office dogs have helped create for their businesses.

And who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend, especially if it’s man’s best friend? But before you go all in a pet-friendly work environment, consider the following points that should factor into your decision:

  • Safety First

There’s no sense in losing good employees over the issue of office pets. Before declaring your company as a pet-friendly environment, be sure that no employees object to your policy. Some employees may be afraid of dogs for one reason or another, which could compel your star employees to seek work elsewhere.

If an employee has pet allergies, his or her health should take priority. While the employee may be okay with dogs in the office, make an arrangement where you let employees with pet allergies to work from home on the days that dogs are present at your company.

  • Know the Difference Between Therapy Animals and Pets

Even if you allow staff members to bring their support animals to work, that does not automatically make your company a pet-friendly one. Service dogs are trained for specific tasks related to vision, hearing, and even seizure alerts that allow their owners to carry on their everyday activities. Consider whether or not you want to open your office to all employees’ dogs, or restrict it to animals covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Put it in Writing

Create a formal pet policy that stipulates that pets are under the sole responsibility of the employee, that they are properly medicated/vaccinated, are housebroken, and get along with other dogs and people. Your paperwork should also address issues such as whether or not the dogs must be at their owners’ sides at all times if they must be kept on a leash, what rooms at your company are off-limits to dogs, and what sort of conflict resolution will take place if other employees raise concerns about in-office dogs.

  • Get Insured

No matter how well-behaved Fido is, there is always a chance that he could act out when placed in a brand new environment. In addition to having pet-owning employees sign an agreement stating that he or she will be solely responsible for any havoc their pets could cause, you should make sure that your company is covered.

  • Eliminate Distraction

Most people would be overjoyed to work for a pet-friendly business. But with pups-a-plenty at your office, the distraction could impact your workers’ productivity. Not only will the dog owners need to feed, walk, and clean up after their pets, but other employees may leave their desks frequently in favor of playing with Fido. Monitor your employees’ productivity to make sure that their work isn’t suffering due to your new pet policy.

  • Create Limits

If you work at a large company with a lot of pet owners, or at a small company where dogs could make your space feel too crowded, you can always limit the number of dogs that are allowed on site. You may want to have your employees coordinate a schedule in which staffers bring their dogs on different days, or designate one day of the week as a “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.”

At the end of the day, it’s not practical for all companies to officially become dog-friendly workplaces. But there are still ways that you can prove your appreciation for pets. Your company could consider providing some pup perks to employees, such as pet insurance, dog-centered team events, and even ‘pup-ternity’ leave for staffers who wish to take time off to care for their newest family members.

RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient human resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small, start-ups, and medium-sized businesses. Contact us today if you need help keeping your business running smoothly.

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