By George P. Linke, Jr., Psy.D. and Shlomo Z. Satt
Around 63% of U.S. households own a dog, per the Insurance Information Institute. However, in a recent study performed by the Society for Human Resource Management, data showed that only 7% of employers allowed dogs in the workplace. This disparity would indicate that dogs must be a disruptive force within the workplace environment, but is that really the case?
Beginning with the concerns, there are several legitimate reasons for an organization to have a pet-exclusive work atmosphere. One basic reason is that many people do not get along with dogs nor do they want one around the office. Dogs can be loud and attention-seeking, which may distract workers from their primary tasks. Additionally, shedding can be an issue of office cleanliness, as well as a health risk for those who have dander allergies. All of these factors can decrease employee performance and affect company culture.
While dogs can seem to be a distraction, on the surface, there is research that makes a strong argument for workplaces to be more pet-friendly. According to the Banfield Pet Hospital, employers with pet-friendly policies result in a 83% greater feeling of loyalty from their employees. Being as employee retention is a strong goal for all successful businesses, that alone is a legitimate reason to adapt their policies to be more pet-friendly.
But that is not all. Not only do employees feel more loyalty, dogs can help productivity in the workplace. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published an article in May of 2017 detailing many of the positives and negatives of having dogs in the workplace. Some of the positives included were social support and stress reduction, task performance and positive social interaction. With task performance specifically, an experiment was conducted to challenge a control group and a group with pets to perform stress-inducing tasks. The group that was able to have a pet accompany them performed significantly better than the control group.
For the Human Resources professional community, having a dog-friendly workplace can be a great highlight to feature in an employment opportunity. Rhonda Abrams, an author, columnist for USA Today and business owner, always lists that her company is pet-friendly in her job opportunity ads. She believes that dogs are a great addition to any workplace.
Even with only 7% estimated of current employers being pet-friendly, that figure is likely to change. Industry leaders such as Amazon, Airbnb and Alphabet have pet-friendly policies, and it would be an educated guess to assume others will follow suit. With all there is to gain, from retention and loyalty to improved task performance and social interactions, evidence seems to be on their side.
Is your workplace dog-friendly? If so, how has that affected your performance? If not, would you consider advocating for policy change? Click here to join the conversation.
George Linke is the Founder and President of Linke Resources. He is an executive & professional search consultant specializing in healthcare and human services. He has a demonstrated track record of placing well qualified professionals that advance the clinical and programmatic needs critical to an organization’s mission and financial health. He has extensive experience serving individuals with behavioral health needs, intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities. To learn more about how Linke Resources can make the hiring process efficient, successful and stress-free, call 610-873-4813.