Owning a company pet: Man's best coworker or biggest distraction?

May 22, 2019

Owning a company pet: Man's best coworker or biggest distraction?

May 22, 2019

The phenomenon of having a company pet is no longer reserved for dentist office and their fish. The dogs are out and making an impression on the workplace for better or for worse. Animal lovers will always argue the former, but there are a few factors to consider before hiring your newest four-legged employee.

Boost morale and sense of community

Dogs and cats are brought into nursing homes, schools, and hospitals for the purpose of stress relief, so why not try this approach in the workplace? A 2017 study published by Scientific Reports concluded that pets lowered the risk of death by cardiovascular disease in their owners by 36%. Numerous other studies have also reported that animals alleviate stress, lower risk of depression, and combat feelings of isolation. 
In the workplace, these benefits can be felt by everyone. A company pet can also serve as a talking point for coworkers and become a shared point of interest/responsibility for the team, encouraging teamwork and social interaction. 

Investing in your image

An office mascot like a dog, cat, or even guinea pig can serve as your company's unspoken spokesperson on social media platforms, endearing your business to customers and increasing your online audience. 
Promoting your pet also gives your company the appearance of being flexible and progressive. This impression will to potential employees, possibly influencing their decision if offered a job. Millennials specifically, who are currently the most educated and largest workforce generation, tend to gravitate towards jobs with unique perks. 

Promote productivity

As working around animals can improve employee health, so too can it increase their productivity. First, healthy employees take fewer sick days, allowing them to work more hours and get more done. 
Interacting with pets, whether walking a dog, feeding fish, or playing with a cat, inspires some level of physical activity, the act of which is directly linked to elevated mental health. Improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, enhanced creativity all correlate with exercise.

Ongoing costs

The expense of an office pet is no object for larger companies like Google and Amazon, but for a smaller businesses, the annual costs of a pet could present major budgeting issues. Obviously, investing a fish or tarantula has minimal financial impact, but bigger animals can charge a pretty penny, not to mention mandatory training expenses and unpredictable vet bills.

Allergies

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 15 to 30% of Americans are affected by pet allergies. Allergies can develop sporadically over a person's life, affecting people who were previously fine with animals. Employees who suffer allergic reactions to pets should not be forced to bear this burden in their workspace. Even if nobody has allergies, animal-free spaces should be available at the office.

Does your office location allow animals? How will you avoid favoritism? Which type of pet will suit your office best? What if a customer is scared of tarantulas? All these factors should be considered, but arguably the most important one is how does your team feel about it? Personal preferences aside, the average employee spends 30% of their day in the workplace so any decision that effects if as dramatically as a pet needs to be unanimous. 
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