You leave your apartment in the morning, feeling guilty as your dog whimpers and stares up at you with his big, sad eyes. But you can’t bring him to work, because pets at work isn’t a thing in your office. If so, you’re not the only one—according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, roughly 85 million families own a pet in the US, and more than 60 million of those pets bark. That’s a lot of furry friends—many of whom will be left home alone for eight hours or more each day.
While there may be some drawbacks—distractions, allergies, and safety concerns, for both employees and the pet!—bringing pets to work is becoming increasingly popular. A recent survey from Banfield Pet Hospital reports seven out of 10 employees and human resources decision makers said they were in favor of the idea.
Whether you’re an animal lover or not, pets in the workplace might actually have a positive impact on your office. Here’s how:
4 Reasons to Have Pets at Work
Pets can boost office morale. According to the same survey, 88 percent of employees and 91 percent of HR decision makers felt that pets in the office boost employee morale. And if that’s not enough, research by PAWSitive InterAction, an alliance of animal-care organizations in Atlanta, noted that people typically feel more supported and are more likely to collaborate with others because pets act as a bridge for social connections.
Pets can reduce stress and depression. A study found that people who brought their dogs to work were less stressed than those who did not. Plus, by petting or walking colleagues’ dogs, employees had increased levels of serotonin and oxytocin, brain chemicals associated with feelings of happiness and trust.
Pets can lower blood pressure. The American Animal Hospital Association notes owning a pet can aid in cardiovascular health. A number of studies have linked interacting with animals to an improvement in stress-related metrics, including heart rate and blood pressure. And researchers have found people who pet dogs experience a decrease in their blood pressure.
Pets can aid in talent acquisition and retention. Competition for attracting—and retaining—top talent is extremely cutthroat, but pets in the office can help! HR decision makers say 65 percent of candidates ask if the company has a pet-friendly policy. And Banfield Pet Hospital also found 82 percent of employees and 91 percent of HR decision makers feel a greater sense of loyalty to their company when their pets are welcome at work.
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.