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Man sitting in the office working with a dog on his lap.

Pets in the Workplace: Why More People Want to See Their Pets At Work

Are you still struggling with employee retention or continuously tweaking your return to work policy in 2023? Then maybe it’s time to seriously consider making your office a dog friendly workplace. 

Approximately 60% of Canadians own a pet. It’s not surprising then, that we’re experiencing a cultural shift toward increased pet-accessible spaces - including the corporate office space. Now, more than ever, pet parents and research show that people - especially younger workers between the ages of 18-40 years of age - want to spend more time with their pets.

LinkedIn has 71 results for “dog friendly” jobs in Toronto, and a growing number of smaller, niche services in the city (like Basecamp Climbing, hotels, and breweries) are welcoming well-behaved dogs onto their premises.

Whether you’re looking to attract or retain talent in the workplace, or even looking to attract more customers, there are plenty of reasons to consider moving towards a more dog friendly office space. Here are 4 research-backed reasons why businesses can benefit from pets in the workplace and how you can consider making the switch:

1. You Can Retain Talented Employees with the Benefit of Pet Friendly Workplaces

According to Better Cities for Pets, there’s a growing indicator that majority of pet owners after the pandemic are placing a stronger importance on staying with their pets during working hours:

  • 89% of pet parents say it’s important they can continue to spend time with pets during the workday going forward.
  • 72% of those working at home say they want to be able to take pets to work and, for those that are returning to work, 79% are concerned about pets’ health or well-being.
  • 64% of Gen Z and 56% of Millennials say they’d switch to a new job or reduce work hours to spend more time with pets.

Did you know that since the pandemic started, almost 1 million Canadians got a pet over the pandemic that didn’t have one before and that over 56% of Canadian households have at least one type of pet?

That’s a lot of pet owners and pets! In today’s competitive and global hiring market, many employers find it harder than ever to attract and retain high-performing professionals - especially in industries where return to work policies are in place. 

If you want to win the war for talent, the highest salary on the market isn’t the deciding factor - but the perks and benefits are.

According to a Glassdoor Survey:

Nearly four in five (79%) of employees would prefer new benefits to a pay increase.

Personalized perks and benefits that cater to your professional’s lifestyle and needs (like being a pet owner who’d much prefer the option of taking their pets in the workplace with them!) can significantly improve your company’s success in both attracting top talent and retaining employees.

Nala, a white samoyed, is under an office desk at the Doggosphere space

2. Pets in the Workplace Foster More Positive Interactions Among Employees and a Positive Perception of Company Culture

There are countless studies, including this one, that found that workers experience lower stress levels throughout the work day and developed a more positive perception of their employer.

In Canada, large corporate offices have seen the benefits of allowing employee’s animals into their workplace in action. Companies ranging from Hootsuite, Electronic Arts to Mars welcome pets in the workplace and have kept their pet-friendly office policy over the years. Some, like Mars, even have a dedicated courtyard at its headquarters where canines can run around and play.

Woman holding a puppy french bulldog while working at an office desk space

3. Dog-Friendly Offices Boosts Productivity

Concerned that too many four-legged canine companions in the office would cause more distractions and decreased work productivity? Think again - according to one study, accepting dogs in the workplace can actually boost productivity AND reduce burn out too.  

How? Dogs in the workplace encourage a healthier office environment - and encourage employees to take more walking meetings, and more frequent breaks - both aspects which have been proven beneficial to reduce burnout, stress, and decrease work fatigue - which all in turn boosts your employee’s productivity.

4. Pet Friendly Office Reduces Absenteeism Costs

For most organizations, the question isn’t IF you’re experiencing lost time and productivity due to disability and mental health issues. The question is how much? According to Mercer Report, mental health costs are draining Canadian companies billions (an estimated 16.6 billion annually) in payroll costs, talent management expenses, and lost productivity.

Conversely, it has been frequently documented that people who spend time with pets experience a wide variety of health and companionship benefits that can reduce absenteeism:

  • Pet owners tend to visit doctors less often and spend less money on medication. (Heady et al 2007)
  • Having a pet reduces blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. (Friedman et al 2010)
  • 94% of heart patients with pets survive serious heart attacks, compared to only 72% without pets. (Friedman et al 2010)
  • The presence of dogs increases the number and length of people’s conversations with others in the community. (Jenkinson et al 2010)

For employers looking to address employee healthcare and absenteeism concerns with added health and wellness plans extending beyond physical healthcare, opting to include a pets welcome policy can be a comparatively low-cost but highly effective initiative.

In the same Mercer report, organizations that work on improving employees’ health and well-being with a full spectrum of services that also address psychological, financial, and societal health issues (including mental health, stress, and absenteeism) have reported a decrease in absenteeism and even greater percentages of financial sustainability, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

Woman holding a puppy wearing a blue sweater against a blue background while smiling

How to Make the Switch to a Dog Friendly Office

Convinced that dogs at work can boost morale, productivity, and build a sense of community? Here are some key steps to launching a pet-friendly workplace program in your office:

  1. Understand local and industry rules and regulations - be sure workplace hygiene or other regulations don’t pose an obstacle, and work to overcome any concerns
  2. Consider insurance -  get any needed insurance coverage in place before launching your program
  3. Agree on scope - decide if your program will apply to employees only or if it will extend to others who are on site, including contractors, temporary workers, visitors or others
  4. Develop a pilot program - whether it’s implementing a one-day event like puppy yoga, a bring your pet to work day, or planning a dog-friendly event - consider running a small test pilot and ending it with a survey to gain buy-in.
  5. Conduct a survey to get input and help leadership and employees feel engaged in the plan. 
  6. Determine how you can offer needed amenities like pet relief areas and pet hydration stations onsite or nearby
  7. Create communication materials, signage, and educational materials to help your program succeed.
  8. Launch your pet-friendly policy.
  9. Track results to keep learning and developing.

Do you need help:

  • deciding on a pilot program?
  • planning a dog-friendly corporate event?
  • looking for a venue space to host it in? 
  • looking for consulting services to help you figure out what it takes to run a successful pet-accessible event? 

Then contact us or visit our Private and Corporate Events page to learn how we Doggos Events can help you!

Closing Thoughts

There are many benefits of owning and having pets in the workplace. For most corporations, pet-friendly workplaces are a win-win for employee wellbeing and for business.

Smart business leaders will see a pet-friendly policy as an opportunity to not only tackle many HR challenges including: addressing absenteeism and increased productivity, but also see it as yet another opportunity to create a workplace culture that cares for and supports the whole employee - magnets for attracting and retaining the most innovative and loyal talent.

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