Any employee, manager, or business owner can attest to the negative impacts of stress in the workplace. And that stress will inevitably affect the customer experience at some point.
One way to break the tension in your work environment is to add some pets into the mix. Of course, modifying your pet policies will present some challenges. So you must approach it thoughtfully and strategically.
That said, many employers discover that the benefits of allowing employees and customers to bring pets into their place of business outweigh the drawbacks. Below, Comherco shares the legal requirements, benefits, and best practices for allowing pets in the workplace.
Understanding Service Animal Norms
First of all, it will help to have a firm grasp on when your small business is required to allow pets in your office or store. Many people confuse service animals with companion animals. All businesses must allow entrance to service animals but can turn away companion animals.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), service animals are “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Miniature horses are the only exception; though it’s rare, they can serve as service animals.
On the other hand, a companion animal is a pet that provides a person with comfort, therapy, or emotional support. Even if a person with a disability comes to your business with a companion animal, you only have to allow entrance to the person, not the animal.
Benefits of Allowing Pets in the Workplace
More and more companies are realizing the advantages of allowing employees (and customers) to bring their pets into the workplace. Overall, it shows how much you appreciate your staff.
Wellness packages are becoming a normal employee benefit. Letting your workers bring their pets along, even if it’s for designated days of the week, can promote work-life balance. As with other perks and benefits, this is one practical step you can take to acquire and retain talent.
Then there’s the fact that workplace pets reduce stress. Sure, a dog or cat gives your employees one more thing to be responsible for. But businesses are finding that team members are less stressed, more comfortable, and happier with a four-legged companion nearby. And if your business is located in an area that’s received a high walk score (scores between 70 and 100 are ideal), this means your employees can walk to nearby parks and pet-friendly businesses whenever they need to step away from the office to clean their minds for a bit.
Best Practices for Allowing Pets in the Workplace
So, you’ve decided to adjust your company policy. Why not let people bring animals into your place of business? But remember – there are challenges around the corner! And you must prepare for the change and make intelligent decisions during the transition.
For instance, think about how you can make your work environment more comfortable and welcoming. You could invest in a dog-proof trash can to prevent Fido from eating something harmful (or causing an office disaster). You can ramp up the hospitality by purchasing some spare bedding, toys, and bowls! Whichever products you choose to purchase, check online reviews for expert guidance on what’s safe for pets.
Here are a few other precautions you will want to take:
Ensure all employee pets are up to date on vaccinations.
Gradually introduce new pets to the office; let them acclimate to their new environment.
Make sure all team members know of any dietary and training needs for pets.
Keep office pets healthy and in good hygiene.
No one wants to work in an office that’s always tense and stressful. Plus, many customers love to support businesses that welcome pets.
If you’re looking to attract and retain new talent, bolster your brand, and improve the overall atmosphere of your workplace, consider allowing people to bring their pets. Just be sure to take all the precautions necessary to do it the right way.
Comherco offers an excellent range of gifts for children — and pets! Be sure to check out our online shop to see what we have available.