How pet-friendly policies can ease the transition back to the office

(BPT) - With many offices welcoming back employees over the next few months, employers and employees alike are wondering what their new workplace will look like, and how smoothly the transition will go. Working from home has had plenty of challenges over the past year, but also has offered many people the ability to spend more time with their beloved pets.

In a recent 2021 study, roughly 3 out of 4 (76%) pet owners said they’ve been happier working at home with their pets by their side. The survey, conducted on behalf of Purina, also found that 73% of pet owners currently working from home are worried about how their pets will react to their absence once they return to the office.

One way to address potential separation anxiety for both pets and pet owners is by cultivating a pet-friendly workplace. A pet-friendly office can help smooth this new transition, keep employees engaged, and help recruit — and retain — top talent. In the survey, 72% of pet owners working from home said they would accept a job offer from a pet-friendly employer over a non-pet-friendly employer, assuming salary and other benefits were equal. And nearly half (48%) of pet owners whose company doesn’t currently have a pet-friendly office thought that morale would improve if they did.

How can pets improve the workplace?

Studies have shown that employees who bring their pets to work tend to have a lower stress level by the end of the day and having pets by our sides can help reduce blood pressure, decrease loneliness, help to lower cholesterol levels and encourage physical activity with outdoor walks to break up the time spent sitting at a desk.

Pets can also have a beneficial impact on facilitating social interactions between employees who are looking to ease back in to reconnecting face to face with coworkers. In fact, 72% of C-suite leaders said that they believed a pet policy would either lead to — or already has led to — positive socializing in the workplace.

How do employers feel about a pet-friendly workplace?

Attitudes toward pet-friendly offices are changing, with many executives seeing the positive benefits of creating work environments more dedicated to employee happiness and well-being. In the survey, 65% of C-suite leaders whose office did not have a pet-friendly policy said that management would consider adopting one if 50% or more of their employees were in favor of it. And while some may worry about pets as a distraction, 56% of C-suite leaders said that a pet-friendly policy would lead to or has already resulted in increased productivity in the workplace.

“As a champion for pet-friendly workplaces and a pet-friendly employer for more than 20 years, Purina knows that such policies can lead to a clear increase in employee satisfaction and add a new dimension to the associate experience,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CEO and President, Purina. “Now is the time to seriously consider the role that pets have had and will continue to have in the lives of employees. Introducing those pets into the workplace creates a cultural shift that brings people together, offers stress relief and fun, and increased productivity, all while helping the pets who have supported us throughout this time adjust to their own post-pandemic reality.”

Want to introduce a pet-friendly workplace?

For employees

Are you an employee interested in helping your office become pet-friendly? Visit Purina.com/Better-With-Pets/Pets-At-Work/Employee-Toolkit for resources and suggestions for how to bring up the topic with your employer. The toolkit includes information about how pets in the workplace reduce stress and other benefits, plus information about proper pet etiquette in your work environment.

For employers

Business owners and executives can check out the Purina.com/About-Purina/Better-With-Pets/Pets-At-Work/Employer-Toolkit for steps on how to make your workplace pet-friendly. It provides information about how to survey your employees on the topic, paperwork you may need to complete and ways to get your employees involved in the process.

For many people, pets are and will continue to be a huge part of their lives. Companies that encourage pets in the workplace show that they are committed to creating healthy work-life balances as we adjust to a new reality and continue to improve how we work and collaborate day to day.

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