Want employees back at the office? Not without their dogs

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but after two years of remote work, employees’ commitment to their furry companions has reached a new level.

Twenty-five percent of workers would take a 10% pay cut in order to work remotely with their dogs, according to a new Forbes Advisor survey. Over a third of workers said they would give up benefits such as gym reimbursement, free lunches and tuition reimbursement in order to work remotely with their dogs. Twenty-one percent would accept fewer vacation days, and a third of dog owners would financially prioritize their pup’s healthcare over their own.

To dog owners, these sacrifices make perfect sense. But employers may be unprepared to welcome both employees and their animals back to the office, especially as the number of workers with dogs spiked throughout the pandemic. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly one in five American households adopted a pet through the course of the pandemic.

Read More: Working from home has improved employees’ connections to their pets

As far as health and well-being go, it was a smart decision: According to a study by the Veterinary Clinic of North America, dogs have the ability to reduce stress, provide comfort, decrease feelings of loneliness and depression, and even offer empathy to owners. At a time when much of the country was battling stress and other mental health challenges, those snuggles became more valuable than ever.

But now, employers have a decision to make, one that could impact the success of their operations moving forward. According to a survey by Banfield Pet Hospital, one in two Gen-Zers and one in three millennials would consider looking for another job post-pandemic if their workplace was not pet-friendly. That might actually be good for a company’s bottom line: 42% of employers with a pet policy in place saw an increase in workers’ productivity. Still, just 7% of employers have made their workplaces pet-friendly, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Read More: Pet debt pitfalls, how employers can help ease the burden

For companies that are not ready to let dogs roam freely in the office, there are plenty of alternative solutions. The growing category of pet benefits – from coverage for accidents and illnesses to behavioral training – is something that 15% of US employers now offer, according to the SHRM, up from just 9% in 2015.

As more employers demand employees return to the office, they will need to make sure to meet certain “non-negotiables” of their workforce. And play time with pups, especially for millennials and Gen-Zers, is one of them.

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