The case for a pet-responsible workplace
June 24 may be Take Your Pet to Work Day, but at Banfield Pet Hospital’s corporate headquarters, we’ve always opened our doors to our associates’ pets — at Banfield, we’ve found that having our pets at work, well….works. Earlier this year when we conducted our first PAWrometer™ survey on pet-friendly workplace trends, we learned that plenty of employees and employers share our perspective on the range of benefits linked with pets in the workplace (regrettably, we weren’t able to survey the pets).
While the findings from the PAWrometer survey validated what we’ve noticed among our own associates, they also got us wondering about what pets think about being in the workplace. I bring my lab mix Bingo in every day that I’m not traveling — but does he actually enjoy it? Our pets can’t tell us when they’re afraid, tired or stressed. Do they really want to be in the office? What more can we do to be responsive to their needs and make them comfortable?
When designing our new corporate headquarters in Vancouver, WA, we took the opportunity to pause and really think about our headquarters campus from a pet’s perspective. This led to a change in how we view our own culture, expanding our focus from being pet-friendly to also being pet-responsible.
Being pet-responsible goes further than simply opening the doors to pets. It means using thoughtful consideration to intentionally design policies and a physical space that serves our associates and their pets.
For Banfield’s new corporate headquarters, this means requiring that all dogs undergo an in-depth behavior assessment with a dog trainer and adhere to a more robust vaccine requirement policy, and that we take additional steps to educate our associates about pets in the workplace. We also took great care in designing an open, collaborative layout that includes areas where our pets can get a reprieve from our open and collaborative space. For instance, we included a dog ramp so pets that are scared of the stairs — or who have a harder time managing stairs due to injury or arthritis — can easily get between floors. We even tested the white noise system to ensure it was a dog-safe decibel.
Thus far, nearly 175 dogs have already gone through the new behavior assessment and are now happily awaiting their first day in our new office, including Bingo!
The right policies will differ from company to company and what worked for us may not translate for another organization. However, we zeroed in on three actions every pet-friendly company should consider in order to be pet-responsible.
- Implement a vaccination policy to ensure that pets are protected as much as possible from communicable diseases. For us at Banfield, this means the core vaccines like rabies and distemper, but also vaccines recommended for pets that interact with a lot of other pets — while it may not feel the same, a workplace is not that different from a dog park when it comes to a pet’s medical risk.
- Consider pet behavior when determining which dogs can come to work — whether it’s having a professional dog trainer perform a formal assessment, or reminding employees what the signs of stress are in their pets.
- Educate employees about how to interact with pets in the office to keep them happy and stress free.
As the momentum for pets at work continues to grow, we believe it’s critical to shift the national dialogue to include a focus on making sure policies are in place that reflect the unique needs of pets. In the end, being a pet-responsible workplace is about making sure our pets are just as happy at work as we are about having them there. It’s a great feeling to know that when Bingo comes to work with me, he’s in an environment where his happiness and safety are valued alongside that of our associates.
For more information on our new pet-responsible policies and the story behind them, visit www.banfield.com/PetResponsible.