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Should pets be welcome in the workplace?

In the 1970’s it was common to smoke in the office, at your desk even!  The 90’s introduced casual Friday (did you know it originated in Hawaii?  A little trivia nugget for you there).  Nowadays it’s not uncommon to wear jeans Monday through Friday, finish early on Friday’s and working from home is becoming a standard part of many employees working week.  In the last few years we have seen a new trend appear, pets in the workplace.  Employees are either bringing in their own pets or using the services of companies who hire out pets such as puppies for a few hours.

In my experience I find this topic a tricky one.  Animal lovers adore this new concept and love bringing Fido into the office whereas others may not feel the same amount of love for these furry friends and may not appreciate the presents of animal hair and dog food farts being left around the office.

Whatever you decide for your business keep these pros and cons in mind:

  • Pets have proven health benefits.

A study on domestic dogs and human health published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, strongly suggests that dog owners tend to be healthier.  Dog owners generally have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

  • Productivity.

This could go either way really.  While pets reduce stress levels that could lead to increased productivity they could also be a big distraction.  Don’t forget the extra break times that will be required for pooping, walks and food.

  • Allergies.

Pets in the workplace could cause a big problem for people with allergies.  You don’t want lost productivity or excessive sick leave because you have employees with animal allergies.

  • Culture.

You are likely to create a collaborative work environment and can expect engaged employees.  Pet lovers will bond over their common interest creating a team environment plus saving you money on team building exercises.

  • Pet discrimination.

Margret has a Labradoodle, Johno has a Pomeranian, Kathleen has 7 cats, Ron has a parrot, Margo has 2 rats and Rick has a python.  Will these pets get along and where do you draw the line?

  • No pet zone.

Make sure you keep some areas animal free.  Nobody wants Fido drooling all over the table in the staff break room while you eat last night’s leftovers or Fluffy barking in the background of an important teleconference.

  • The golden rules.

Make sure you have an air tight policy if you decide to allow pets in your workplace.  You may want to add sections regarding what days, times and areas pets are welcome in the office and a procedure for pet breaks and cleaning up accidents.  You will also need something in place if a pet attacks an employee, you don’t want any legal complications.

If you need assistance with a pet policy in your workplace or have any questions about pets in the workplace call HR Gurus on 1300 959 560 and one of our HR professionals can help.

Written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol

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