We’ve all heard the statistics that people with pets are happier, healthier and enjoy faster recovery times when they do fall ill or have surgery. What you may not heard, however, is that when employers allow staff to bring their dogs to work, a whole bunch of good things happen. Morale improves, absenteeism is reduced and the occurrences of stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, decreases. There’s a little more to creating a dog-friendly workplace than just opening the doors, though. Follow these 5 tips to create a safe and productive dog-friendly work culture.
- Check the rules: If you lease your work area, make sure pets are allowed in the building. You’ll also need an outdoor space, preferably a grassy area, where dogs can go during the day. Is there such a space available and are dogs allowed in the area?
- Develop a plan: Include everyone in the planning stage, from those who want to bring their dog in to those who don’t own pets. People who don’t own dogs or who are allergic may have legitimate concerns that must be dealt with and hashed out before dogs are allowed.
- Define the requirements: All dogs in the workplace should be properly trained and nonaggressive. Each dog should have current vaccinations, including rabies, Bordetella and distemper-adenovirus-parvovirus. Come up with a form for employees to fill out that includes vaccination history, current medications list, pet insurance information and evidence of spay or neuter. Dogs that bark incessantly or are food possessive may not be welcome.
- Create a set of employee/dog guidelines: Spell out where dogs can and cannot go. For example, most companies with pet-welcoming policies don’t allow pets in the break room, conference room or restrooms. Employees are responsible for creating a safe and comfortable dog area at their workstation and for cleaning up after them. Most companies require dogs be kept on a leash at all times, except in designated areas. Make sure every employee receives a printed copy of the guidelines.
- Be prepared: Check your liability insurance policy to see if you are covered for pet incidents at the workplace. If not, add coverage or purchase a separate policy, just in case. And, prepare for the “might happens.” Even the best trained dogs will have accidents, so have plenty of cleaning supplies on hand. Provide biodegradable dog waste bags at exits for easier cleanup.
With your guidelines and policies in place, it’s time for a trial run. It’s normal for both dogs and their human parents to be a little excitable during the first couple of days, so a trial period of a week or two is optimal. The longer the trial period, the faster everyone adapts and gets back to work. A trial period also gives employers a chance to refine policies and make changes when required.
Dogs in the workplace not only benefit current employees, but a pet-friendly environment is also an attractive perk for new hires. Of course, there is a trade-off. Some people are allergic to animals or aren’t comfortable working with dogs. But, if you want a happier, more productive staff, adding dogs to the mix just may take you there.