Pooches, pigs and parakeets: the non-human resources finding roles in our offices

Thursday February 2, 2017

We do confess, on National Dog Day, to being dog lovers here at The HR Dept. But we don’t, as yet, mix business with pleasure. Having an office dog, though, is a thing and it is growing ever more popular. Jobsite Glassdoor.com recently created a definitive list of the top dog-friendly workplaces. It encompassed a wide range of business sectors, including financial services, tech firms and pet companies.

And it is not just office dogs that are popular. It seems that, as long as they are not big enough to consider us humans lunch, just about anything goes when it comes to office pets: tortoises, tabby cats, corn snakes and iguanas. You can see a comprehensive (and ridiculously cute) gallery here.

Sometimes they are accidents: like stray cats that wander in off the streets before deciding that the printer makes a comfy bed. Other times they may be prima-donna dogs that end up dictating office moves based upon whether the new building allows pets. Some wags like to give their pets nominal roles: a gold fish in charge of a Twitter account, a cute dog with the title ‘Head of Security’ (with his own badge and everything) or a blog-authoring cat. That is all fun, but scratch the surface, and beneath there is the suggestion of more tangible benefits to businesses.

One psychotherapist and stress expert contends that the presence of pets at work can contribute to keeping employees relaxed, as well as lowering heart rates and blood pressure. These can help to decrease absenteeism and boost morale. Taking part in the routine of the pet care can also help productivity – nipping out to walk the dog can do wonders for invigorating an employee and clearing the mind! Or so they say.

But there is more. An office pet may help shape or project the business’s culture and personality. Certain pets and their care can be a focal point for co-worker bonding and team building, and a having a pet friendly policy may be a point of differentiation for recruiting bright talent. Back to the Glassdoor.com survey and one of their own employees (yes they featured in their list of dog-friendly workplaces) said: “Aside from all the awesome perks like a gym, catered lunch, unlimited vacation and the ability to bring my dog every day, I just love being at Glassdoor.” There you go – the policy clearly does it for him!

Does it ever go wrong though? One marketing agency in New York State had – of all things – a 73-pound pig called Stunner as an office pet. He would pose for selfies with clients, use the lift and generally trot about. But he turned his owner green when she caught him munching on a bacon and egg sandwich that he found in a bin. Noooo – don’t eat that!

Or how about the San Francisco-based emerald green parakeet called, wait for it… Lord Jello Worthington II. Charming as he is around the office, his telephone manner leaves something to be desired: Interrupting a Skype call he waddled in front of the computer before, how can we put this delicately, ruining the keyboard in full view of the camera. Urrrrgh.

Our research suggests the benefits probably outweigh the mishaps. Do you have an office pet? Tweet us a picture to @TheHRDept, or email a pic to us and we’ll give you and them a Twitter shout out!

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