Who hasn’t spent hours enjoying cat videos, watching a farmer wake up their animals on Tik Tok, or stolen a few quiet moments with their bird, spider, snake, or lizard?
The lives of humans and animals have been intricately intertwined since time immemorial.
It’s no surprise there is a growing trend to include pets at home, at work, and while shopping.
Today, customers are seeking more pet-friendly products and services.
Even workplaces are creating pet-friendly perks to improve morale and work-life balance.
We are doing the same. In conjunction with a company-wide mental health day, Search Engine Journal will participate in National Pet Day Off with hundreds of other companies across the globe.
The goal? To give pet parents more time with their loved ones and promote good mental health.
And we’re not alone.
Pets Are Taking Over Our Lives And Our Workplaces
Animals have traditionally played four important roles at work:
- Working alongside humans: Support animals, farms, drug enforcement, etc.
- The focus of the organization: Zoos, aquariums, pet stores, etc.
- Companion animals brought into the workplace.
- Companion animals at home.
It’s estimated that 70% of households in North America have at least one pet.
And considering over the last few years, they’ve become an important factor in deciding where we work and what we buy.
Google reports that searches for [pet friendly restaurants] are up since the pandemic.
So are other related searches such as [pet friendly hotels] and [pet groomer].But it goes farther than just different buying habits. A recent study found that six out of ten people have quit their jobs because their workplace wasn’t pet-friendly.
An overwhelming 71% have made significant life changes because of their pets. Further:
- 48% of respondents said pets improved productivity at work.
- More than 2/3 of respondents said pets helped them make an average of seven new friendships at work.
- 42% stated their offices stock pet supplies like bowls and bags.
Why Pets Work At Work
We know pets have positive effects on employees and customers. Studies show they increase the number of positive emotions work teams feel and the number of prosocial behaviors during the workday.
But it’s more than just being happier.
Pets help people cope with stress and uncertainty, providing much-needed relief to tense moments.
And anyone whose dog has gotten them out of bed at 7 AM on their day off will tell you many pets thrive on (and even demand) routine, which makes them helpful for getting motivated and starting the day.
Pets often require attention or need to go outside, encouraging employees to take a moment to get outside. Or at least do something different.
This space gives fresh perspectives on problems and maybe even a little creative inspiration.
Pets also tend to give employees a sense of control and unconditional affection. Sometimes, it’s just what we need.
After all, they’re not going to bite you if your reports are late or snap at you if you make a mistake and lose some money.
Don’t forget that customers often enjoy pets, too.
Perhaps most powerful are the deeper social-psychological ties.
Pets provide us with easy conversation starters and a point of connection. It’s far easier to connect with someone over a pet.
If they like pets, they’re just like you. They’re part of your “group.”
Social psychology research shows us that in-group/out-group bias can be a powerful driver of society, culture, and connectedness.
We tend to like people who we identify as being like us. And we tend to trust them more, too.
Pets also bind home and work life together, potentially increasing company loyalty and improving working relationships among teams and team members.
Then, there’s the halo effect.
If you have touching or memorable moments with your pet at work, they make you feel good while working and in that context.
You come to associate those positive feelings and moments of affection with your job (or at least the place you work in), counteracting negative feelings and associations you have with work and your workplace.
In fact, people overwhelmingly report higher job satisfaction when they’re allowed to bring their pets.
How To Bring The Benefits of Pets To Your Business
Creating official policies around pets is just one way to become more pet friendly.
Create spaces for them. Google, for example, often encourages its employees to bring their pets to work. And the Doogleplex is worth a look.
Incorporate them into the company culture. Use them as team-building opportunities. It wouldn’t be the first workplace to do so.
Amazon employees can enjoy what the company estimates to be up to 7,000 dogs at their Seattle headquarters on any given day.
Salesforce openly pup-licizes its pet-friendly culture with Puppyforce.
Can’t really have pets in your business? There are still plenty of ways to be pet friendly.
Get creative or include them in your marketing.
Fundraise for local animal shelters or partner with animal, environmental, or guide dog training organizations.
And pet-friendly initiatives don’t have to always be customer-facing.
Consider the needs of employees who may have pets at home. This could make things like extended travel more difficult, for example. Initiatives like National Pet Day Off can be an excellent mental health day and an opportunity to support pet owners.
You might also want to consider perks such as pet care gift cards, special treats, or a regular delivery of pet boxes.
What about those who work from home?
Lizards, spiders, snakes, puppies, senior cats… critters of all kinds can make your day better and work easier to handle. Improve your work-life balance by spending a few minutes with them throughout the day.
Here at SEJ, pets (and children) make regular appearances during meetings.
We also have an official SEJ-AnimalBros channel on Slack. It’s where we laugh at the fun, spontaneous moments, commiserate with each other when a pet has destroyed yet another object, and rejoice when one of us brings home a new pet.
Those who don’t have pets can join in and live precariously through the pets of others.
Have an unconventional pet? Even better. An estimated 69% of those surveyed said rodents broke the ice in meetings more often than other pets.
So, don’t be scared to show off those scales, spines, or snouts.
After all, if you love your pets, someone else will love them, too.
Featured image: Shutterstock/Konstantin Aksenov
Colarelli, S. M., McDonald, A. M., Christensen, M. S., & Honts, C. (2017). A companion dog increases prosocial behavior in work groups. Anthrozoös, 30, 77–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2017.1270595
Schabram, K., & Maitlis, S. (2017). Negotiating the challenges of a calling: Emotion and enacted sensemaking in animal shelter work. Academy of Management Journal, 60, 584–609. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2013.0665