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Why a pet-friendly policy makes sense

Many dog owners say they're flexible on salary in exchange for dog-friendly perks

When it comes to dog-friendly employers, more than half of respondents to recent surveys say it shows that the employer appreciates its employees. And if that perk was taken away, 28 per cent would consider leaving the company. “Some of the findings were consistent with what we know but the extent to which or how strongly people feel about a pet-friendly workplace, everyone was surprised. It just shows how strongly employees feel about dog-friendly perks,” says Rebecca Greenstein, chief veterinarian of Kleinberg Veterinary Hospital and medical advisor for dog-walking company Rover in Toronto, which conducted the surveys in August.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents also believe that pet ownership has been good for their mental health. “Working alongside their dog — particularly during the pandemic — it improved their overall mental health and wellness and as a veterinarian, I can definitely tell you there’s been a huge pandemic boom in pet ownership,” she says. “With so many people working from home, it’s now become almost a way of life for them and it’s one of the hardest things to give up.” Having pets around contributes to an overall positive feeling, according to Greenstein. “People who spend time with pets have a number of well-documented emotional, psychological and physical health benefits; they have lower blood pressure, oftentimes they’ll improve oxytocin levels and that implies it can also improve productivity for a lot of people. Anyone who owns pet can tell you that they just bring just an unconditional positive regard.”

Dog-friendly perks help keep people happy The significance of having pet-friendly policies has also grown, according to Greenstein. “An overwhelming majority — 78 per cent — of Canadian dog owners said that working for a dog-friendly company is even more important now than before the pandemic so there’s definitely a shift in terms of employee values.”

The study also found that 41 per cent of dog owners would be open to flexibility when it comes to salary expectations in exchange for dog-friendly perks and benefits. “In terms of perks that they can offer, not every company is prepared to shift into a dog-friendly workplace but definitely offering benefits such as covering for pet insurance or subsidies for dog walkers or pet sitters, days off for pet bereavement, those appear to be unbelievably important to employees and especially top talent,” says Greenstein.

This value proposition also helps with retention and recruitment, she says. “It’s not just a trend in overall pet ownership but there does seem to be a correlation in employees’ minds between attitudes towards pets and attitudes towards employees, whereby companies that are more dog-friendly are just perceived as a more collaborative and more supportive to employees so it’s time for employers to definitely take note.” Meanwhile, another survey found that an employer offering a strong benefit package can sometime outweigh pay, while companies that care for employees will probably win the retention battle.

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