Can Pets in the Workplace Improve Mental Health?
Pet-friendly workplaces are becoming more and more common in recent years. Many larger companies, such as Amazon, Airbnb and Uber, actually have a pet policy now where employees can bring their furry friend to work.
Many people may think bringing a pet to work could be distracting not only for themselves, but their coworkers as well. So, why do companies allow pets in the workplace?
Why Have Pets in the Workplace?
Pets have proven to be a positive influence in the office.
We already know owning a pet is proven to reduce stress, while increasing positive moods and physical health. It would only make sense that having a pet in the workplace would do the same for you and your coworkers.
Not only can they make workers happier, but pets can improve mental health, have healthcare benefits and actually boost productivity.
Can Pets Improve Mental Health?
Employers and employees are finding that pets make a workplace happier.
The animals lower stress levels and can create a comfortable environment. Pets not only create a happier workplace, but they increase employee satisfaction, along with morale.
Stronger Communication and Work Relationships
Pets can improve mental health, because it gives coworkers a common interest and can help create lasting friendships and business connections. This will improve communication, which in turn will then help create teamwork and trust.
Having both teamwork and trust will reduce stress at work and promote productivity.
Pet-friendly workplaces keep employees occupied not only with their tasks, but with a furry friend.
Yes, it’s understandable to expect a friendly pet to prevent productivity. But, the animals tend to distract employees from what matters most – not their work, but the stress that comes with a job.
Pets can distract workers from issues that are disturbing them, which will decrease stress levels. This improves mental health, because it minimizes worry and work pressure.
Health and Healthcare Benefits
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) found that owning pets actually does save people money.
According to HABRI, $11.7 billion is saved yearly by 132.8 million pet owners when it comes to going to the doctor’s office. Owning pets makes people healthier, which then results in people visiting their doctor or the hospital less.
Not only that, but those who have pets that need to be taken on walks, such as dogs, save even more money on healthcare. If you walk your pet at least five times a week, it can save $419 million in health care, because walking your pets can lower risks of obesity.
By having pets in the workplace, it not only makes the owner healthier, but coworkers as well.
Do Pets Harm Work Productivity?
It can be easy to become distracted by pets in the workplace, which can slow productivity. Although, when productivity is diminished by pets in the workplace, it is typically due to an overly-hyper and playful pet.
In most cases, pets actually promote productivity rather than harm it.
Work productivity can depend on a pet’s personality. Calm and relaxed pets are great to take into the office, because they won’t be active.
Hyper pets create a huge distraction. It’s important to know whether your pet has a personality suitable for the workplace. When considering taking your animal to work, this is should be an important factor.
But, bringing calm pets to work does increase work output.
Employees who do bring their pet to work will often work longer hours and have fewer absences. If you have your pet at the office with you, there is no need to go home in the middle of a workday to let the animal out or to take them on a walk. All these tasks can easily be done from the office, which saves time.
Additional Costs for Pet Care
When creating a pet policy for your workplace there are, of course, going to be additional costs.
On average, companies who allow pets spend between $500 to $1,500 a year on pet-related expenses for having one animal in the office. Some things that the office will need to have for the pets are food, treats, toys and maybe even a pet bed. Most of these costs would go to the owner of the pet, which means the business won’t actually be spending much more to allow them.
The company though, would have to pay to pet-proof the office and plan for any accidental damage caused by the pets.
Damage Caused by Pets
When allowing pets in the office, be ready for accidental damage.
All animals can damage items and furniture in a house and an office and shouldn’t be held accountable for doing so. This is something that should be taken into consideration when making a business pet-friendly.
Be sure the office is pet-proofed, which will help avoid any damage to the office.
Although, pets can sometimes accidentally hurt a worker. It’s important to consider the personality of your pet before bringing it into the office. Hyper and more playful animals are more likely to cause damage of some kind and may be better left at home.
Pet allergies aren’t uncommon. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America said 15-30% of people have a pet allergy.
Before implementing a pet-friendly policy, it’s important for employers to ensure no workers are allergic to pets. If a worker is allergic to pets, adjust the pet policy accordingly.
Maybe an employee is allergic to cats but not dogs. If this is the case, there could still be a dog-friendly pet policy.
Do you have any other questions about improving health, mental or physical, at your office? Passport Health can help! Give us a call at , or fill out a contact form for more information.
Written for Passport Health by Elle Johnson. Elle Johnson is a senior multimedia journalism student at the University of South Carolina. Johnson is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in December and is a freelance writer in her free time.