Pet-Friendly Workplaces Are Increasing
Allowing pets into the workplace isn’t a new concept, Congress has been dog-friendly since the 19th century, although it has not allowed dogs on the floor of the House and Senate since 1811 due to a complaint against Virginia Congressman John Randolph’s dogs, claims that his dogs were too intimidating were emphasized. However, more and more companies are allowing pets into their professional environment. Employers and employees are discovering that pets in the workplace make them happier, lower stress levels, and create a comfortable, flexible environment. There are many benefits to allowing pets into the work environment but there are also reasons why some companies won’t allow pets in their workplaces.
According to WebMD, petting your cat or dog not only feels good, but it can also lower your blood pressure, helps your body feel relaxed, and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone. Less stress means clearer thinking, stronger problem-solving skills, and a happier mood.
While walking your pet also decreases blood pressure it also increases endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical your brain releases during physical activity. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of a strong Narcotic. Studies have shown that one’s blood pressure can be lowered so much that often heart attack survivors and people with serious abnormal heart rhythms who own dogs live longer than people with the same heart problems who don't have pets. Fewer health issues mean fewer sick days for employers.
It was also concluded by appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu, “The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) found that pet ownership is responsible for saving $11.7 billion yearly. 132.8 million pet owners save $11.37 billion on physician office visits, while 20 million owners who walk their pets 5 times a week show lower obesity and save $419 million in healthcare.” Again, having a pet in your life makes you healthier and more productive.
At Etsy Marketplace, the New York-based company has found that bringing dogs to work helps to keep employees’ spirits high and adds to the sense of community and connection. In some cases, people will know the animal's name before they know the pet owners name. People seem more approachable if they have a dog with them. More approachable means people are more likely to engage with one another. Better communication better collaboration.
Not everything a pet brings to a work environment is positive, however. An important issue for businesses when deciding whether to permit pets is the issue of liability for dog bites. While a dog owner would, in most cases, be liable if the dog were to bite someone, there is also a possibility the employer would be jointly liable in a personal injury lawsuit. One solution to the issue is to require employees to provide insurance covering any damage or injury by the dog.
In one instance, under the Fire Insurance Exchange Policy were injuries are covered by the individual’s work. A woman brought her dog into her office and it bit one of her patients during a therapy session. The court found that the incident arose from the pursuit of business and was excluded under the insurance policy.
In another instance, a woman claimed to suffer from fear of cats or ailurophobia so when her supervisor brought in his cats, she missed a week of work, claiming it was due to the fear of the supervisor’s cats and was terminated shortly thereafter. The employee filed an EEOC complaint stating the company discriminated against her on the basis of her disability and refused to accommodate her. The former employee failed to file her complaint in time; therefore, the judge did not have to decide whether ailurophobia was a legitimate disability recognized under the ADA but did indicate such contention would be "tenuous at best.” However, the outcome may have been different for the company if the complainant had filed the form within the correct period of time. .
There are so many benefits for allowing pets into the workplace, but the company needs to do what is best for itself and its employees. There are policies that can be implemented so a company will be covered if there is a negative instance. Companies can also put in their job application that the heir must be okay with pets. Overall, I think more and more companies are looking into allowing pets into their work environments for everything that they do for the people that work there.