Traffic and long commutes aren’t the only concerns the global workforce has about returning to the office in a post-pandemic world. During quarantine, video meetings and working in pjs became the standard for many of us; we also got comfortable having our pets as our constant companions. In fact, according a new survey from Banfield Pet Hospital, nearly 80% of owners say quarantine was the perfect opportunity to strengthen the bond with their pet.
The pandemic has been a boon for pets, with 1 in 3 people—and nearly 1 in 2 in Generation Z—getting a new dog or cat during COVID-19. But as workers around the world plan to head back to the workplace, pet owners are also worrying about how their furry friends will adjust to the solitude after a year of quality time with their people.
There’s good news on that front: Half of all C-suite executives surveyed said they’re planning to allow pets in the workplace upon return to the office, and 59% said they’ll allow more flexibility for workers who want to stay remote with their pets. That’s a smart move. Nearly 1 in 3 millennials say they will consider looking for another job post-pandemic if their workplace isn’t pet friendly.
Mars has been leading the pet-friendly workplace pack for more than 10 years, something our Associates and their furry BFFs love more every day. Many of our locations around the world welcome pets with amenities that make animals feel right at home. For example, our Mars Petcare U.S. headquarters includes everything from a WiFi-enabled dog park, pet-friendly fabric on the furniture, and indoor play areas with full-time pet sitters.
“At Mars, we believe A Better World for Pets is a better world for everyone, and there’s a growing body of research indicating pets can benefit our mental health. And there’s no question that the quarantine brought the human-animal bond to a new level,” said Poul Weinrauch, President of Global Petcare at Mars.
All the pandemic pet-bonding means workers are stressed about leaving their pets at home when they head back to the office. In fact, they’re so concerned that a whopping 71% of Gen Zers and 48% of millennials have or are planning to request their employer implement a pet-friendly policy once offices open back up.
Employers who already allow pets in the office agree it’s great for business: Of the 48% of employers who already had a pet-friendly policy in place, 42% saw increased productivity among staff and 24% said employees seem happier in the workplace. With 75% of C-suite execs saying being a pet owner has made them a better, more compassionate business leader, pet-friendly policies are clearly a smart business strategy.
“Our headquarters at Banfield are pet-friendly, and I can tell you from experience that there’s nothing better than seeing wagging tails in the hallways and pets in meetings,” said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital.
Many workplaces sweetened the deal for pet owners beyond prepping the office for Fido. According to the survey, in addition to letting pets tag along with their owners to work:
- 45% provide financial support for veterinary care;
- 37% offer pet bereavement leave;
- 41% offer “pet-ernity” leave for new pet owners;
- And 40% also offer paid time off to take a pet to the veterinarian.
“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. “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 the future brings.”
Considering implementing a pet-friendly policy and not sure where to start? This Pets Work at Work™ Toolkit from Mars Petcare's Better Cities For Pets™ program includes the benefits of pet-friendly workplaces, leadership and legal considerations, tips for communicating the program to employees, and much more. The program also provides a toolkit for businesses like stores, events and restaurants aiming to go pet-friendly.