Employees will be barking mad if their companies don't evolve when it comes to this

SWNS
·4-min read

Six in 10 companies plan to be more flexible in a post-pandemic world — to ensure Americans' pets don't get lonely throughout the day, according to new research.

A survey of 500 C-suite executives revealed 59% personally plan to allow more flexibility for employees wanting to stay remote with their pets, once they're back in the workplace.

And it's not just their companies: when asked about future trends, 72% of C-suite executives expect more workplaces will be pet-friendly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioned by Banfield Pet Hospital and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also polled 1,500 dog- and cat-owning employees to gauge the desire for having their furry friends at work.

Three in 10 of those employees surveyed have adopted a new cat or dog since the start of the pandemic, something C-suite executives are keeping in mind.

Millennial and Gen Z employees were the most likely to have adopted a new pet since last March — and were the most likely to be planning to reach out to their employer requesting a pet-friendly policy when they return to the workplace (48% and 71%, respectively).

Overall, 63% of employees surveyed said the increased time at home has made them think more about how pets can fit into their workday, and 57% said they'd be happiest returning to work if they could spend the day with their pet by their side.

For those respondents, the top concern for returning to work was fearing their pet would face separation anxiety if left home alone all day (38%).

But respondents don't only want their pet at work to benefit their four-legged friend: 23% of those employees also said they'd be more productive with their pet as a desk mate.

If they're not able to take their pet to work with them, one in five employees (21%) — including one in three Gen Zers and one in five millennials — are considering rehoming their pets.

The good news: 32% of pet owners surveyed said they have recently reached out to their veterinarian for advice on making the transition back to the workplace easier on their pets, while 45% are looking into services including dog walking and daycare once they are away from home.  

"We understand that pet ownership is incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its challenges. Our goal is to not only be there for the tail wags and snuggles, but also to help prevent issues wherever and whenever we can," said Molly McAllister, chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital. "If pet owners are feeling overwhelmed or have questions or concerns, in addition to taking care of your pet's health, veterinary teams can advise on all aspects of caring for your pet to help ensure pets and their families stay together."

With remote work top of mind for many employees, the survey asked C-suite respondents what encouraged them to consider more flexibility for employees with pets.

Turns out, it's something employees are actively requesting: of those who worked in an office pre-pandemic, 23% of employed pet owners have already reached out to their employer requesting they implement a pet-friendly policy — and another 27% plan to.

With nearly half of Gen Zers and a third of millennials saying they would consider looking for another job post-pandemic if their workplace was not pet-friendly, 20% of C-suite respondents planning to allow pet in the office are hoping that will also increase employee retention. 

For those who were pet-friendly before the pandemic started (48%), C-suite executives noticed increased socializing in the workplace (67%) increased productivity amongst staff (42%).

Furthermore, 31% saw increased employee retention and 24% noticed happier employees in the workplace.

They also said employees were more willing to come to work when their furry friends were invited along (61%). 

"We've seen the human-animal bond only get stronger during the pandemic, and it's no surprise that owners are thinking about how they can best be here for their pets when they start to spend more time outside of home," said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. "We believe we can advance human health through pet health, elevating societal well-being. That's why we'll continue to be here for pets and their owners as they adjust to this next normal, providing high-quality preventive care, no matter what 2021 brings."