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Pet-Friendly Workplaces and, No Kidding, a Chief Executive Dog

There are few things better than coming home from a long day at work to an excited dog or calm cat to greet you. Whether you've had a good day or a terrible one, pets are always right by your side, ready to offer unconditional love and affection, especially if there are a few treats involved.

Spending time with a pet has a positive impact on our lives. For those of us who spend long days at the office, finding enough time to spend with our pets can sometimes be a challenge.

Organizations are finding creative ways to improve company culture and promote an employee- friendly workplace in the hopes that unique perks and benefits will reduce turnover. Companies are recognizing the benefits of our furry friends and have started to allow pets in the workplace.

Pets Help Make Sure You're Feline Fine

Pets have lasting positive effects on your mood, productivity, and personality. Even if your workplace doesn't allow pets, there are a few ways that being a pet parent helps you have a better day at the office:
Ban the Blues
Interacting with a pet raises serotonin and dopamine levels, and recent research has also shown that owning a pet lowers your blood pressure and stress levels. According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, "A few minutes alone with a pet cat or dog might do more to help people's stress than talking about their troubles with their best friend or spouse."
Let Your Pet do the Networking

Dogs, in particular, are good icebreakers on walks or at the dog park. Your pet makes you more approachable and offers an opportunity for conversations that otherwise may not have happened. Who knows, you might even meet a new client.

Pets in the Workplace Have Pawsitive Effects

As recently as ten years ago, it would be far-fetched to find a company that had a pet-friendly office policy or even a "take your pet to work day." Allowing pets in the workplace is now more than just a warm and fuzzy benefit. It is a perk that can offer employees greater job satisfaction and productivity, and it costs the company very little to implement.

Banfield Pet Hospital recently released its Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer report, stating that 70 percent of employees believe pet-friendly workplaces have a positive impact on a company's culture. The report also concludes that a whopping 88 percent of respondents believe that pet-friendly workplaces boost morale, and 82 percent believe they contribute to employee retention and loyalty.

A 2015 Society for Human Resource Management report concludes that eight percent of American workplaces allow employees to bring a pet to work, up from five percent in 2013. Google, Amazon, GoDaddy, Salesforce and VMWare all welcome pets at work. Amazon just opened a dog park for its 2,000 office dogs, which includes a 1,000 sqft off-leash area. And Google has a dog-themed caf, as well as a networking group for their dog-loving employees called "Dooglers."

Aside from the cutting-edge technology companies in Silicon Valley, more traditional companies across the USA are also beginning to offer pet perks. Purina, Ben & Jerry's, Build-A-Bear, Atlantic Health, Clif Bar, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Replacements, Banfield Pet Hospital and TruPanion Pet Medical Insurance have implemented pet-friendly workplaces.

Build-A-Bear even has a Chief Executive Dog named Milford, based in their World Bearquarters. Milford has helped to create some of the company's pet-friendly policies, called "Rules for People" which include: "Stick with your human (who has to clean up your you-know-what when you go outside). Don't bring any fleas to the office. You can't go in the food room because people don't like hair in their lunches. And it's better to sit and shake than to bark and growl." Just in case you are looking for some policy ideas.

Protective Instincts

Implementing a pet-friendly workplace begins with executive buy-in and landlord approval, and involves a written pet policy. Organizations must also thoroughly sort through all of the legal repercussions and check with their insurance provider to make sure they have adequate coverage in place to manage the risks.

Before taking these steps, a company should take an internal poll of its workforce to learn whether they have employees who strongly oppose the plan, who have significant pet allergies or animal fear/anxiety issues. Company guidelines must address vaccination standards, leash rules, pet-friendly areas, and times that pets are allowed in the office. Steps must also be taken to help eliminate safety hazards to pets and humans, similar to baby-proofing your home. Elevators, revolving doors, plants that are harmful to animals and electrical cords are some of the things that pose a safety hazard to pets.

Cats vs. Dogs

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Both have their advantages. Dogs are often more attentive companions, and cats tend to be easier to take care of, especially for those who travel often. Although we have not yet implemented a pet-friendly policy, we at TAG have a large pet family, including cats and dogs, and fish. Here are a few members of TAG's collective pet family:

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