Dogs Are Our New Best Coworker?

If you ever visit SEC, Inc. you may have the opportunity to meet Oscar Miller, our loyal greeter, and a Shih Tzu rescue dog.

Oscar’s qualifications include:

  • No Shedding Certification
  • Skilled in no barking or aggressive behavior
  • Excellent people skills – he has never met a stranger
  • Obeys orders
  • Loves the vacation policy
  • Embraces the company health policy, particularly the group wellness walks
  • Successfully completed his 90-day probationary period
  • His background check was clear…But, getting the drug test done was a challenge

If you haven’t been asked by an employee if they can bring a pet to work – soon you will. Considering that nearly 80 million homes in America own a pet, it’s no surprise that pet-friendly work environments are becoming a way to not only improve work settings, but also to retain employees. Studies have found that while many households own a pet of any kind, nearly 67.5% of them own a dog in particular. These statistics have served to encourage companies to instill pet-friendly benefits including pet insurance and bring your dog to work days, and these policies appear to be beneficial to the business in terms of performance. Sixty five percent of dog owners consider them to be family members.

Benefits of Dogs in the Workplace:

  • A study conducted in 2016 showed that pet-friendly companies had an 83% increase in employee loyalty and retention.
  • The same study also found that 91% of HR Administrators surveyed saw an increase in the overall attitudes of employees following the implementation of pet-friendly policies.
  • Interpersonal relationships and unity can be created stemming from interactions not previously experienced among employees in different departments.

How to Create Your Own Pet Policies:

  • Try it out first, start small by bringing a dog once or twice a week and listening to employees’ thoughts on the experience.
  • Create a written policy, requirements and expectations of dogs and owners while in the office. What sizes of dog are you willing to allow in the office? Are puppies that aren’t housebroken acceptable? Set standards relating to dog age, breed, gender and training.
  • Prepare for incidents. Not all employees are going to love everyone else’s dog. Three-strike policies allow for anonymous complaints to be made and reviewed before a dog is fired from the office, while actions such as biting or fighting are grounds for immediate removal. Side note: Workers compensation does not cover dog bites.

If you’re not quite ready for furry friends:

  • Stick to special bring your dog to work days every so often. The benefits of a pet-friendly work place are still applicable but the commitment to it is lessened.
  • Allow animal therapy days, if stress seems high and morale seems low bring in some puppies and give your staff a break.
  • Provide bereavement leave. Obviously, many households consider pets to be a part of the family. Encourage employees to take a day off following the loss of a pet to grieve.
  • Provide pet insurance in employee benefit packages.

Service Dogs:

In Greenville, we are fortunate enough to have one of the leading service dog trainers in the U.S. The Dog Trainers Workshop in Fountain Inn was founded by Connie Cleveland. They also head up The Service Dog Institute (TSDI). Then, dogs service children 5-18 years old, adults and Veterans with special needs.

If you have an employee who needs a service dog, here are some key points.

  • Coworkers in the area where he/she works need to know how to interact with the dog that doesn’t distract from their purpose.
  • Service dog designation vest, harness or badge must be displayed at all times.
  • The employee with the service dog will have had special training.
  • Remember a service dog is not a pet and is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Sources: SHRM, USA Today, Dog Trainers Workshop

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