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Pets in the Workplace? Yes, Please!

If you’re a restauranteur, read no further. Or actually, maybe you should? We can’t tell you what to do…

The rule of thumb for most businesses has been to ask customers to wear appropriate clothing (shoeless customers are kind of gross, and also, they can step on something and sue you), not to smoke indoors (this was added to the list probably more recently than we’d like to acknowledge) and not to bring your pets inside.

Pets are unpredictable. Some people are allergic to certain pets, others are afraid of pets. Pets automatically reduce the cleanliness of your establishment. Seems like a no-brainer that for a safe, welcoming environment that is less likely to be sued, you should make your patrons tie their furry friends up outside, or leave them at home.

As far as offices are concerned, this has been doubly true! The last thing you want is to have to organize quarrels over where Employee X’s pet dog peed, or if Employee F broke out in hives because she didn’t realize she was allergic to cats. Inviting pets into your place of business might seem a little counter-productive at best (who doesn’t want to pet a puppy instead of update spreadsheets?!) or an outright HR nightmare and a safety hazard at worst.

But lately, that thinking has, surprisingly, shifted.

In a study reported by Forbes, many businesses that allowed employees to bring their pets to work showed that over 75 percent of respondents to a survey claimed that it improved their morale, boosted productivity, and made them more inclined to work longer hours.

The results add up, but with a caveat: the companies that were pet-friendly were newer startups, and most of their employees were millennials. Forbes noted that millennials have a tendency to marry and start families later, and so they’re more inclined to get pets to keep them company.

It makes sense, then, if you employee younger people, that they’ll feel happier if they’re able to work and spend time with their pets. Logically, it’d be similar to a previous generation feeling happier if they were able to work with their kids or significant others, though that’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

From a purely logistical standpoint, you give your young, single employees peace of mind that they don’t need to rush home to let their pet out.

For businesses that operate more conventionally, suddenly throwing in a “bring your pets in starting Monday and it’s okay” edict shouldn’t be the way you go without taking a few things into consideration.

First off, based on the type of business you own or where you’re located, it might not even be legal. Certain areas have laws prohibiting pets at certain workplaces. You also have to consider safety concerns, like allergies of fellow employees or customers. Even though your business might be pet friendly, certain pets might not be trained well enough to be business friendly.

If you want to open up your doors to allow pets in, make sure you take time to consider the ramifications and have an open discussion with people you trust in your business about what guidelines should be followed should you allow employees to bring along their furry pals.

You could end up opening the door to happier, more productive employees that enjoy work more and collaborate more freely with each other! Or, you could open the door to emergency rooms visits and lawsuits. Choose wisely!

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