Workplace pet perks could help staff sit — and stay

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Canadian companies struggling to fetch workers back to the office post-pandemic would be well advised to enlist the services of a retriever — or any other dog breed, for that matter.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/06/2022 (222 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Canadian companies struggling to fetch workers back to the office post-pandemic would be well advised to enlist the services of a retriever — or any other dog breed, for that matter.

That’s just one of the findings from a new report, The Future of Work: Dog Friendly Companies, says rover.com, a website that touts itself as the world’s largest and most trusted network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

The survey of 500 Canadian dog owners, conducted last month, revealed the soaring rate of canine adoptions during the pandemic has made employees more reluctant to abandon their home offices and return to in-person workplaces.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES Forty-nine per cent of dog owners surveyed said the top motivator for returning to the office is the ability to bring their canine companions with them.

“With millions of pets welcomed into our families over the last couple of years, it’s understandable that folks are genuinely concerned about returning to the office and what that means for their pets — from separation anxiety to finding pet care they can rely on,” Rover’s Kate Jaffe barked in a release that landed in my inbox.

“Employers that are struggling to recruit, retain and convince employees to shift away from remote work need to understand that our pets are true members of our families — and there’s strong evidence that companies can effectively leverage dog-friendly policies.”

Forty-nine per cent of dog owners surveyed said the top motivator for returning to the office — more than catered lunches, free snacks, fast internet and other in-person perks — is the ability to bring their canine companions with them.

How devoted are Canadians to their canine co-workers? An astonishing 48 per cent of pet owners surveyed said they would be willing to leave their current jobs to work for a company with more dog-friendly policies. In fact, 58 per cent of those who adopted a new dog at the start of the pandemic said they would jump at the chance to join a more pro-dog firm.

“Dogs aren’t just pets any longer — they’re part of the family — and the pandemic certainly accelerated that sentiment,” Jovana Teodorovic, Rover’s head of people and culture, said via email. “It’s become clear that pet-friendly workplaces not only benefit employees, but they’re also creating a more creative, collaborative culture.

“Offering pet perks helps companies with hiring and results in a more productive workforce, so bring it up to management and maybe start small by having dogs in the office every other Friday — and build from there!”

Rover’s survey found 16 per cent of pet parents said they quit or changed jobs during the pandemic because of their dog, a number that jumped to 20 per cent for Canadians who welcomed new dogs into their homes during the pandemic.

The survey found the No. 1 reason dog-owning employees are reluctant to abandon their home office for in-person workplaces is fear of their best friend’s anxiety or loneliness caused by the separation. This is most true for the 49 per cent of pet parents who welcomed a dog home during the pandemic, 42 per cent of whom confessed they are worried about their own anxiety.

“As people transition back to the office at varying speeds, many Canadians that brought ‘pandemic pups’ home are having to leave them alone for the very first time. While it’s healthy to foster some independence in our dogs, eight-hour days and the sudden change can both be significant challenges for pets of all ages and social readiness,” Teodorovic explained.

“Many owners are finding their pets are experiencing separation anxiety without them home by their sides during the day. While working on socializing your dog, so it’s desensitized to you leaving, I would recommend having someone walk your dog during the day. Physical activity and social interaction during the day can go a long way.”

Considering that my two fluffy white dogs have been my primary co-workers for the past few years, I was not the least bit surprised by Rover’s findings, including that 64 per cent of pet owners polled said they are more likely to feel loyalty toward a dog-friendly company.

I can speak with some authority about the benefits of dogs dipping their paws into the workplace, because in 2017, accompanied by my four-footed pal Bogey, I helped launch the Free Press’s much-lauded Newsroom Dogs project, wherein editorial department employees were allowed to bring canine companions to the office.

Editor Paul Samyn and graphic artist Leesa Dahl (who writes our informative and entertaining weekly pet newsletter, Ready, Pet, Go!) came up with the project to find out whether — as a number of scientific studies have shown — dogs have a positive impact on the work environment, reducing stress and improving productivity.

Were we barking mad in going to the dogs? Far from it. It proved a howling success in the sense the dog lovers loved it, and the non-dog-lovers didn’t complain. Yes, there is a certain amount of stress involved in bringing your dog to work.

My big fear was that Bogey, an anxiety-ridden cross between a Maltese and a bichon frise, would lift his leg and unleash a stream that would fry our computer system. Didn’t happen.

Sure, it may remain a bone of contention in some offices, but in this post-pandemic world, dogs might be your company’s new best friend.

dougspeirs65@gmail.com

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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