“Take Your Dog To Work Day”: How Fido Can Help Companies Retain Employees
In a Q&A with Allwork.Space, Rover’s Head of People and Culture Jovana Teodorovic discusses the widespread benefits of having dogs in the workplace and why it means more than having an excuse to fawn at their overwhelming cuteness.
Now that companies are bringing workers back into the office, employees are concerned about how their new pets will handle the transition.
“The Future of Work: Dog-Friendly Companies” indicates that pet-friendly policies may be key to attracting and retaining top talent.
Nearly three-quarters of pet parents feel more loyal to companies with pet-friendly policies.
Isolation from the pandemic drove many people to search for a type of companionship that has been historically reliant: pets.
National Take Your Dog To Work Day is today, and the trend of bringing furry friends into the office has only grown tenfold in recent years.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), one in five households adopted or acquired a cat or dog as of May 2021.
These pet owners spent the better half of the last two years with their furry friends, growing a deep attachment during their period of isolation. However, now that companies are bringing workers back into the office, employees are concerned how their new pets will handle the transition.
As a result, workers are eager for a new type of workplace policy that could alleviate this separation anxiety: a pet-friendly office.
While it is certainly adorable to be cranking out projects in the presence of a furry ball of love, having dogs in the workplace can have a substantial impact on how the workplace operates.
But is bringing dogs into the office a plausible plan? Would it serve as a distraction or motivation?
According to pet services platform Rover, today’s workforce is embracing the positives of these types of policies. Recently, the platform released a report that highlights just why employees have grown to desire having their furry friends at their side in the workplace.
74% of pet parents feel more loyal to companies with pet-friendly policies
58% of pet parents would leave their job for a more dog-friendly company
59% would be more excited to return to the office if their dogs could join them
“The Future of Work: Dog-Friendly Companies” report not only suggests that having dogs in the workplace makes for a happier environment, but it also indicates that pet-friendly policies may be key to attracting and retaining top talent.
Retention Requires An Empathetic Touch
According to Rover’s Head of People and Culture Jovana Teodorovic, the relationship between dogs and owners has changed in recent years.
They are no longer viewed as just pets — they are “part of the nuclear family by the overwhelming majority of pet parents.” So leaving them behind to come into work is not an easy task.
“The pandemic undoubtedly strengthened our love affair as humans spent more time than ever at home alongside their pups,” said Teodorovic.
Research from CertaPet shows that separation anxiety can occur in both pets and their owners as people return to the office. In fact, 69% of the 2,600 pet owners stated they would prefer to work remotely full-time in order to be there for their dog.
More and more workers are itching for remote or flexible work policies to achieve a healthy work-life balance — especially as this means being able to care for pets.
A 2016 survey by Banfield Pet Hospitals showed that 83% percent of workers felt more sense of loyalty to companies that embrace a pet-friendly environment.
By adopting a policy that helps eliminate separation anxiety between employees and their dogs, business leaders are more likely to keep workers around, while also attracting new talent.
During an era where employee loyalty is increasingly fragile, finding unique strategies that keep workers aboard is critical for businesses large and small.
Having this newfound camaraderie was a necessity during the pandemic, and many professionals are not ready to let go of having their companions around during stressful work days.
“As life begins to normalize and companies are asking workers to transition back to the office, people are struggling to imagine a work day without their companion animal nearby to provide emotional support.”
In a Q&A with Allwork.Space, Teodorovic discusses the widespread benefits of having dogs in the workplace and why it means more than having an excuse to gawk at effervescent cuteness.
Allwork.Space: How can in-office dog policies help with the transition back to the office?
Jovana Teodorovic: Rover’s new “Future of Work” report found that the number one reason dog parents are worried about returning to the office is their pet’s potential anxiety or loneliness.
Additionally, 45 percent of pet parents are worried about their own anxiety. And, finally, a majority of pet parents indicated that bringing their dog to work was a better motivator to return to office than free snacks, faster internet, or catered lunches.
Ultimately, companies that are aiming to encourage employees back into an office setting should look into implementing dog-friendly policies. It will likely help solve the problem and lead to a happier, more loyal workforce.
Allwork.Space: For both pet owners and non-pet owners, are there mental health benefits to having dogs in the office?
Jovana Teodorovic: In short, absolutely. Whether you’re the parent or not, having dogs around improves mental health and wellbeing. Research from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that people experienced significantly lowered stress levels when they were allowed to bring dogs to work.
Spending time with pets increases your level of the hormone oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone.” It also facilitates the development of social contacts, which can enhance physiological human health. In other words, working with dogs has a positive impact on how you feel towards your work, your coworkers and your workplace environment.
In a previous survey of 1,000 U.S. dog owners, eight out of ten pet parents claimed that working alongside their dog improves their mental health and wellness. Ninety-two percent said that since the pandemic began, their dog has played an important role in positively impacting their mental health. And, 86 percent of dog owners said spending time with their pets helps alleviate stress from news topics like the coronavirus, the economy, and politics.
Allwork.Space: Why is it important for employers to embrace in-office dog policies?
Jovana Teodorovic: Company culture is one of the most important factors that attracts talent to a workplace and tends to keep them there. And, new data shows that an astonishing three-quarters of pet parents feel more loyalty toward a company that is dog friendly. Over half are even willing to leave their current job to work for a more dog-friendly company.
Embracing in-office dog policies is a win-win-win.
It helps companies recruit and retain workers; it leads to a happier, more collaborative and productive workforce; and it ensures our pets are getting the daily physical and mental stimulation they need.
Embracing Unconventional Strategies Means Better Morale And Satisfaction
Job satisfaction has always been at the heart of company culture.
However, recent research from MetLife shows that satisfaction levels have plummeted in recent years. After reaching a job satisfaction high of 80% in 2018, the research shows that this rate has fallen to 70% as of 2022.
Various factors can hinder how workers view their employer, but one of the top contributors to depleted job satisfaction is a leader’s inability to listen to what workers need.
Whether that be a shorter work week or a dog-friendly workplace policy, satisfaction at work relies heavily on how companies address their workers’ demands.
Without feeling satisfied in their position, company morale takes a hit too. And now more than ever, workers are willing to leave their current positions to seek fulfillment elsewhere.
However, boosting morale at work is no easy feat. Yes, Casual Fridays are great, but how can employers do more to nurture their company’s culture?
As aforementioned, leaders should also focus on hearing what employees actually need. This can be achieved by simply asking them.
Would having their dog in a professional office setting give employees a sense of motivation?
If so, it’s time to embrace change.
The last two years have taught the world that standardized workplace practices may not be the most effective. But trying something new may just be the key to overcoming the obstacles plaguing today’s workforce.
Aayat is an editor for the Daily Digest based in Lexington, Kentucky. She has worked with local coworking spaces since August of 2017 and enjoys taking her firsthand knowledge to write about the fascinating, constantly evolving world of flexible workspaces.