Back in the day the term “house pet” was commonly used to describe furry friends whose lives revolved around a spacious fenced-in backyard or a comfy, old cushion near the couch. But today’s pets are not confined only to the house. They travel on planes, visit special doggy spas and resorts, work as support and therapy animals, and now, more than ever, they are making their mark in the workplace.
Benefits of pets in the workplace
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over three-quarters of Americans own pets and over half of these pet owners consider their pet to be a “member of the family.” Given the growing importance of pets in people’s lives, more and more employers are trying to make their businesses as pet-friendly as possible. One way they do this is through policies that allow pets in the workplace, such as the DogsAtWork program. From small “Mom and Pop” businesses to large companies like Google, dogs and cats are becoming frequent office visitors. But make no mistake; four-legged creatures aren’t the only pets being welcomed with open arms. Other office pets include lizards, birds, snakes, and even ant farms! These furry or scaly “employees” do more than just add some fun to the workplace, though.
There are many benefits of having pets in the office! According to a study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, workers who interacted with dogs in the office were less stressed and more satisfied with their jobs. In the right circumstances, a pet-friendly working environment can be a win-win for both employees and employers!
Pet insurance - A key employee benefit
Another way employers are anticipating the needs of pet owners is by offering pet insurance as an employment benefit. Pet insurance is offered as a voluntary employee benefit by nearly 2,000 companies, including Google, American Express, General Motors and Colgate-Palmolive. The American Pet Products Association estimates that American pet owners spent over $18 billion on veterinary care for their animals in 2018. They report that the average dog owner can expect to pay about $212 for routine vet bills every year. Of course, this number can sky-rocket if the dog becomes sick or injured.
PetPartners reports that the average cost of veterinary care for a dog that swallows a foreign object can be upwards of $2000! In light of these high costs, smart employers have started using pet insurance as a way to attract job candidates and retain valued employees. Company-administered pet insurance policies cost businesses very little in time or money, but they often save pet owners hundreds of dollars a year on routine wellness visits and emergency vet care. For companies interested in getting started offering employees pet insurance as a benefit, check out our employer program!
Pet bereavement policies
Some employers are even taking an extra step and assisting their employees after a beloved pet passes away. A 2010 journal article in Perspectives in Psychiatric Care noted that, for many pet owners, the psychological reactions to the death of a pet and the death of a family member were very similar. Unfortunately, the authors found that the vast majority of pet owners felt that friends and family members wouldn’t understand the severity of their loss.
At PetPartners, the passing of a pet is treated with the same gravity as the loss of a human loved one. The Bereavement Day policy available to all employees covers the death of both human family members and pets. Colleagues suffering the loss of a furry family member are encouraged to take time away from the office to grieve. This small policy adjustment goes a long way towards supporting an employee-friendly work environment but, more importantly, it provides an extra measure of comfort and dignity to devastated pet owners when they need it most.
Keeping pets healthy
As long as pet owners continue to embrace their animals as valued family members, expect more innovation from employers eager to create a welcoming environment for two-legged employees and their four-legged friends! If your employer doesn't yet offer pet insurance as a voluntary benefit, you can still enroll your pet in a policy that fits your needs and budget. Get a quote today!