Pro’s and Con’s of Pets in the Workplace

Work… yuck! At some point in our lives, we all have to buck up and buckle down at a J-O-B. However, somewhere between the post WWII employment boom & 2024, the nation underwent a vast change on how we all view employment and employers. As a society we’ve moved from an “I live to work” mentality, to a “I work to live” reality. In a recent global poll conducted by the folks at Gallup, 85% of people admitted they are unhappy at their jobs.. again, that is a GLOBAL number. It’s likely to be a higher percentage in this country, as we lead the world in being contrary and on the move. Think about that number… across the world only 15% of folks surveyed could say that they enjoyed their current jobs, or work in general. We’ve become a transient work force, in more than one way.

The pandemic changed the location of our workplaces, as a huge majority of employees made a home office their preferred work address. Employers made working at home easy, more controlled & measured, and were able to shutter “brick & mortar” buildings that were costly in rent and upkeep. The virtual office increased attendance, mainly because you just walk down your hall, grew employee satisfaction, cut costs to the worker by eliminating travel/restaurant/clothing expenses, and made working overtime more fashionable/easy.

The other major perk to working at home is that you never have to leave your pets. If you can keep your dog from voicing an opinion, and your cat from taking over your video conference call, then having your best fur buddies hang with you while you work is a huge plus to the average employee. With nearly 70% of American households including at least one fur friend as a part of the family, the added benefit of always having the emotional support, calming influence, and full time companionship of a pet in your workplace has become not only chic, but mandatory to some employees. As “Boomers” and Gen-X workers start to retire and phase out of the workplace, the millennial and Gen-Z employees have grabbed a larger share of the working class. Their voices are different, as are their needs.

As proof of that point, you might consider the many employers that are now offering a health package that includes pet insurance options as a way to entice the ever fickle and shrinking workforce to choose them over competitors. Other companies have looked into “bring your pet to work” days or hours, as well as “in house therapy pets” that come to the office every day. Cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, pigs and birds are all part of the pet workforce that is becoming less of an oddity, and more of a mainstream must have. Even businesses who, at one time, would never had considered having animals in their environment now cater to the pet friendly work with “Bring your Dog” days.  Sporting venues, like some Major League Baseball stadiums, now have pet friendly days several times a year. You can “Take Rover to the Ball Game”,  buy them “a Stadium Dog and a Water”, then teach him how to keep score!  Pet friendly eateries and bars are now popping up in towns all over the country. Even specialty shops like “Cat Cafes” and “Doggy Diners” are becoming all the rage in major cities. You see dogs in carts at places like Home Depot, Walmart, Costco, and even in some grocery stores. Regardless if it offends you or not, chances are becoming greater that, one day soon, the guy in the connecting booth at Denny’s will be a dog.  Pets have all the power, and our society loves it.

We’ve touched some some high level perks to having pets in the workplace, but lets get granular and talk about documented pro’s to having an animal helper workforce at job sites;

  • Hiring and Retention – We introduced it briefly above, but we can’t stress how fur kids are impacting where and how people choose to work. Freddie’s Place is a perfect example of how personal pets meet the workplace. Our Place has several “pet workers” that provide blood donation for other animals in needs, are guide and therapy support partners for new patients & parents, and work as mentors and nursemaids to calm stressed pets at intake. The other huge perk for our employees is that they get to spend even more time with their favorite furries. It’s a great retention and hiring tool that more and more employers are tuning into. People are actually making wholesale changes in their work life based on their pets. It’s not uncommon that someone changes to a job in nicer weather zip code, or abandon a job for one that has equal pay but offers “pet perks.” As the pandemic ended and employers began to pull their workforce back into the offices, some employees opted to quit their current jobs because they didn’t want to leave their pets… they quit without a new job to fall back on because leaving their pet alone was a deal breaker. There aren’t enough workers for jobs around the world, so employees have options (and leverage) that hasn’t been seen since the 1940’s & 50’s.

    This shift has caused employers to consider pets as family, which has lead to changes in policy and allowances for animals that are unheard of in the workplace. Do your homework and you can find benefits for your four legged friends are everywhere.

  • Common Ground for Collab’s – The reality is, we are losing the ability to verbally communicate with each other. People no longer talk on the phone (think about the last time your phone rang and you were excited), as people opt for the impersonal and cold world of texting. You never have to see someones reaction in real time, and that means you don’t have to “play nice” if you aren’t feeling it. Have a pet friendly environment has benefits that most workers don’t understand. When is the last time you DIDN’T show a photo of your pet to someone, or forward a cute pet meme? Pet’s are an untapped common ground and people can’t get enough. You may really dislike a coworker, but if they show you a cat video of their fur kid, you’re going to watch and react. This phantom bonding tool is taking the workplace by storm. People are talking, face to face, and they collaborate on projects more easily when the bond of pet ownership is present. Who doesn’t ask about the picture in your cubical of your dog… NO ONE is the right answer. Everybody loves a good pet picture. The inroad created by a simple photo leads to more interactions, partnerships, and work friendships. All of that bonding and discovery of like interests forms networking groups and work pods of same minded people. Cooperation and communication increases, productivity rises… and all of that was spawned by a non-present pet.

  • Service Dogs in the Workplace – This is a touchy subject for some. Rules vary for what is considered a Service Animal, if you can ask for documentation, how deep and wide the access is for the working animal, and where the courtesy of allowing access ends.  Take ride-share companies for instance. Drivers for Uber & Lyft take specialized courses and sign up to allow animals in their vehicles. This increases the audience that would use their services and can lead to bigger tips. A Therapy or Service animal cannot be refused by drivers… but you are normally not allowed to ask for any paperwork or proof of therapy status. So if the person has a “Therapy Animal” vest for their pot bellied pig, you are caught between a pig and hard place if you refuse to pick up that pork carrying passenger. The state of California you cannot refuse access to a “Service Dog” and you cannot ask for paperwork, proof, or the type of disability the person has that requires the Service Dog. This is becoming the norm nationally.  The other interesting fact is that there is no guideline to what is a service dog.  From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, they all can potentially be a Service Dog.  This is true for the average workplace, as well. Service Dogs are considered an accommodation that is made for an employee.

  • Enhanced Mental States – Employers that allow employees to bring in pets, or who offer pets on staff to wander the office, normally have a less stress, more cooperative, and more cohesive workplace. These animals improve mental health, allow employees to off board negativity, improves engagement and bonding, and makes the overall mood of the environment more positive. Hospitals and nursing homes have been using dogs and cats as part of their mental health improvement plans for decades. Some offices have programs where employees sign up to “foster” the workplace buddy animal for a week/weekend/or longer. This rotation further fosters goodwill in the office environment and creates bonds between workers who care for the office pet after hours.

But it’s not all fur and fun, at least not for everyone. Pet’s in the workplace can also cause ill feeling, stress, concern, and extra work. The reality is, some people don’t like animals… so having an office full of furry friends makes their world a nightmare. There is the potential to offend or alienate someone because a breed or species is included or omitted from the office environment. If Bobby can’t bring his bearded dragon to the office but you get to play with a rabbit, Bobby might refuse to come to work or worse… take legal action.

Having this fantastic pet friendly workplace comes at a cost, a legal cost.  Research and creation of the pet policy requires time and resources, as does monitoring and acting on violations. Legal teams spend countless hours reviewing and creating pet policies in these types of offices. They must consider where pets are allowed, where they aren’t, the creations of “pet free” zones or accommodations for those who aren’t “down with the hound” in the workplace. Some people don’t want a collie to roam into their cubical or join them in the restroom, and they must be given allowances and guarantees of equal treatment. There is additional insurance needed for bites, scratches, falls, trips, slips or other pet related injuries. The HR departments need people who understand the state rules and regulations surrounding accommodations and fair treatment.  Both pet lovers, and pets loathers, must be considered and made to feel valued and heard. These issues often stop offices from enacting any pet friendly policies.

Even work at home staff need rules and policies surrounding animals. The call center industry has moved to an overwhelming majority of “work from home” staffing. However, having a dog barking loudly as they attempt to do their jobs, the explosion of noise that happens if someone knocks on door, the interruptions for feeding or potty breaks for the animals, all the time wasted as the employee fawn over and coddles their pet… these are all scenarios that require monitoring and rules to govern.

As you can see, having pets in the workplace shows incredible upside potential for a vast number of reasons. On the other hand, it also alienates a percentage of the workforce and creates a layer of policy and policing that costs time and money to the employer. So what is the right solution?  We don’t believe there is one, it’s an individual choice for the employee and for employers.

One thing is for certain, as the world becomes more pet crazy, as we continue to incorporate animals into our lives as “family”, as the pet care industry continues to boom, and as people choose pets over human children more and more, you’re bound to see the increase of pet friendly access everywhere. So dress up your dog and put your cat in the carrier. It’s a work day… for everyone!

That’s all for this weeks Dog Blog. We hope you found the information useful and easy to follow.

For more Freddie’s Fun stuff, we urge everyone to stop by Freddie’s new Social Media Fun Place for laughs and information about pets. It’s all the Freddie’s Place normal funny business… just light on the business. You’ll find Freddie’s Fun Place at this link

We hope you’ll join us again next week for more words of wisdom from the Internets favorite Peke Reporter, as Freddie tackles another pet friendly topic. Until then, keep your pets safe and warm this winter season, spend time striving to being the person your pets thinks you are, and always be Pet Friendly… #FreddieSez!

Research Sources

Harvard Business Review:

California DMV: