For companies looking to attract Millennials, open-dog policies go a long way.
Forget “bring your daughter to work day:” Millennials are far more interested in bringing their dogs. Studies show that the number of babies among women age 15–29 is declining, while the number of small dogs they own is rising. And these young professionals are now hoping that care for their pet “children” will be extended to them at the workplace.
With a growing number of Millennials entering the workforce — by 2020, some studies say they will make up nearly 50 percent of all U.S. workers — companies are becoming more aware of the fact that perks, in the non-conventional sense (i.e. not a yearly bonus or a great 401k plan), are what these twenty- and thirtysomethings are after. One perk that is especially appreciated among young professionals today is the opportunity to care for and appreciate their pets.
“I’m a big fan of dogs in the office, since I like most of them more than the humans,” an employee of online accommodations rental company Airbnb writes on review site Glassdoor.
It seems many companies are doing away with the “no dog” policy as a way to lure Millennials beyond the standard offerings of free snacks and a ping pong table. San Francisco-based online ticket seller Eventbrite says that 80 percent of its 450-person workforce is a Millennial, so keeping their wants and needs upfront has been a priority for talent acquisition and retention. Part of the draw for its employees is undoubtedly its conscious effort to include pets in the workplace — even designing the office with pets in mind.
“When we moved into our current office, we completely gutted the space,” Eventbrite co-founder Julia Hartz said in an interview. “Having a communal space where we can be together is really important for creating opportunities for Britelings to connect with people they don’t normally work with day-to-day. We definitely have some flair. There are lots of dogs running around.”
Millennials tend to enjoy this type of communal atmosphere, thriving off of a team environment at work. Some companies have included dogs as part of their teams in order to boost moral and alleviate stress among workers. Social recruiting and applicant tracking company Jobvite even has a CEP (Chief Executive Puppy): Pancake.
“Pancake isn’t just our office Top Dog, he’s also our resident therapist, floor cleaning specialist and a role model for sharing,” said Kimberley Kasper, CMO at Jobvite. “We believe Pancake’s contributions to the office extend far beyond being a cute furry colleague — he is a key stress reliever and always good for a laugh. A happy and energized environment is important to us and having an office dog like Pancake helps make this possible.”
Beyond the dog days and CEPs at prospective employers, Millennials also appreciate a company that will extend care to their animals. While Baby Boomers list retirement and healthcare benefits as most sought-after perks at work, Millennials think of themselves and of the health of their pets when assessing company offerings. Still, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, just 9 percent of companies across the country offer pet insurance to employees — making this a huge differentiator for prospective employers.
“In cities like Seattle and San Francisco, dogs outnumber children and are true family members,” says Steve Siadak, co-founder of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. “Companies are adapting to this reality by providing pet insurance and pet discount programs to meet a very real need of their employees.”
Millennials are city dwellers, and, it seems, pet lovers. If companies want to employ young talent, they have to move beyond high-tech and unlimited vacay and remember that Fido matters, too.