Businesses used to be very pet averse. But that changed gradually as “new age” companies like Google and Amazon embraced the “pet culture” that Millennials wanted. Since the COVID-19 pandemic when many workers enjoyed working at home with their pets, many companies now have office pet policies. Consider this short list as an example: Ben & Jerry’s, Bissell, Clif Bar, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Etsy, Glassdoor, Kabbage, and Kimpton Hotels.
This makes sense, in part, because about 70 percent of the U.S. population owns a pet and, in many cases, those pets offer an important connection for an employee. It’s not just the primary animals that you would expect—dogs and cats. It also includes others such as fish because it has been noted that looking into a fish tank can stretch one’s creative skills and provide the same type of calming influence as sitting near a hearth fire.
Can An Office Pet Help Your Business?
The answer is yes. An office pet can help your office in many ways including financially. Here are the benefits of an office pet:
Stress reduction. Pets have been shown to reduce stress, so employees can produce more quality work. With reduced stress, employees are more likely to not have stress-related illnesses so that reduces a company’s healthcare costs. In the case of dogs that most likely need a walk or two during the day, their owners will get some valuable exercise that benefits their health and mindfulness.
Work-life balance. When employees are allowed to bring their pets to work, they are in effect bringing part of their home to work, and that helps them feel more connected to home.
Employee recruiting and retention. Allowing pets can be a useful way to recruit new employees and can be an effective way to increase employee satisfaction and thus to better retain employees.
Morale and team building. Allowing office pets can foster relationship-building between employees and facilitate employee interactions with pets that can boost morale. Just watching a dog or cat play with a toy can be relaxing and fun for employees. People with a dog or a cat are perceived as friendlier and more open.
Productivity. When employees have better morale and better engagement with other employees, they are more productive which translates into higher output for an organization and thus increases its financial metrics.
At the same time, there are downsides to having an office pet policy. Some employees may have allergies to pet dander. And some people may be uncomfortable with pets around them. Pets can create some disruptions. Pets might damage furniture and create some cleanup challenges.
Tips for Creating an Office Pet Policy
Here are some tips for creating an office pet policy:
- Pets should be properly vaccinated.
- Pets should be required to be trained and well-behaved to preserve workplace safety.
- You should include some pet-free zones in the workplace so that workers who are not fond of the idea can work in their own space, so they don’t feel forced into a pet everywhere environment.
- You should require the maintenance of sanitary office practices.
- Your policy should include a way to provide anonymous complaints.
Are Pets Tax-Deductible for Companies?
Generally, an office pet policy does not come with tax deductions for pet expenses. In some situations, a tax deduction may apply if the pet provides a service for the company, and it can be proven that keeping the pet is critical to the operation of the business. For example, if the pet appears in TV commercials or has a key role in YouTube channel communications. Consult your CPA to provide information for your individual business circumstances.
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