The number of offices that have started welcoming animal companions has grown significantly in the past year or so. In part, this is a consequence of COVID-19. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA), about 23 million households in the USA acquired a pet during the pandemic, and many of these pet owners are unwilling to leave their pets alone at home now that they’re being recalled to the office. In an effort to convince their pet-owning employees to return to their companies’ physical offices and facilities, many businesses adopted a pet-friendly policy.
This proved to be an effective strategy, as it brought back pet parent staff members to the office. It also improved employee morale, as having pets around has been found to help bring down workplace negativity and employee stress levels.
If your company hasn’t welcomed pets to the office yet, you may now be considering doing so given how it can boost employee morale. Before you start ordering company-branded cat and dog toy collections for your facility, though, it’s important to determine exactly how being a pet-friendly business can make your office a better place for employees. Here are some of the morale-improving effects of having pets around while people are working:
Animal Companions Offer Emotional Support to Employees
Stress is a natural part of life, but too much of it can have negative impacts on one’s health and well-being. That said, there’s no denying the fact that the workplace can be a source of stress. However, the office is a place where one is expected to demonstrate professional decorum. As such, to avoid being judged or seen as unprofessional by their colleagues, stressed out or burned out employees often keep their negative feelings to themselves.
Animal companions can offer emotional support in such situations just by being present. Some people also feel that it’s safe to tell their side of the story to their cat or dog as doing so will allow them to blow off some steam without feeling judged by their animal companion.
Aside from these possible situations and interactions, the mere act of petting a dog or cat can also help reduce stress. According to a 2019 study, even a 10-minute hands-on interaction with a pet can help lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is widely known as the stress hormone, though it affects the body’s metabolism and immune response as well.
Pets Help Promote Social Interactions in the Workplace
Animals are excellent conversation starters, and the presence of a dog or cat can make someone seem more approachable. Welcoming pets to the office also gives people plenty of chances to communicate with each other. Employees who need to walk their dogs to potty or pee, for example, have more opportunities to explore their office and meet the people that they work with. Meanwhile, people who are not exactly keen on sharing about themselves can instead focus the spotlight on their cat or dog while talking with their colleagues.
In short, having pets in the office can help employees interact more with each other. These interactions, in turn, can help shape the atmosphere in the office and help employees build better connections with each other.
Having Animals Around Can Help Improve Employees’ Physical Health
On top of the emotional and social benefits of having a pet, keeping a dog or cat nearby can also help improve one’s physical health. Having companion animals in the workplace gives workers the opportunity to exercise and interact with their pets and take a short breather in between tasks.
Dogs, in particular, need to be walked regularly, and this need can prompt their owners to become more physically active. The same goes for cats. Much like dogs, these animals require lots of play during the day in order to not only keep them active, but also help them release excess energy. People, likewise, can benefit from taking periodic breaks. Taking a short breather now and then can help employees improve their focus and reduce the risk that comes with sitting down for hours.
Considering these needs and the positive health benefits that come with taking regular breaks from work, the company can come up with an exercise and wellness program that incorporates pets. This can help employees lead healthier lifestyles and feel that they are appreciated by their company, too.
Pet-Friendly Offices Can Attract More Talent and Distribute Work More Equitably
The stress and exhaustion brought about by overworking can negatively affect office morale. If there’s too much work to do and not enough people to do it, then employees might find themselves inundated by tasks.
A company that is keen on growing its number of employees should consider attracting prospective talents with a workplace that welcomes pets. In addition to enticing pet-owning employees to return to the office, adopting a pet-friendly workplace policy can also help a company attract more talent. A LiveCareer survey found that 49 percent or about half of the respondent employees would consider joining a company if pets can be brought into the workplace. Also, 52 percent of the respondents said that a company’s pet policy is a factor when choosing their next place of employment.
Such a move can help ease the pressure on their existing team members. With more people in the team, managers can distribute tasks more effectively and equitably among the staff members. This, in turn, can help keep stress levels under control in the office.
The presence of animal companions like dogs and cats in the workplace clearly has a positive impact on employee morale and can make an office a more pleasant place to work in. To maximize these benefits, though, it’s important to have well-thought-out policies in place to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the staff members and their pets. This way, both the human staff members and their animal companions can fully realize their respective purposes for staying in the office.