Fur the win: Negotiating pet-friendly perks in your next job

Sep 21, 2023

4 mins

Fur the win: Negotiating pet-friendly perks in your next job
Kim Cunningham

Senior Editor at Welcome to the Jungle

In recent years, the line between personal and professional lives has blurred in surprising ways, especially with the adoption of flexible and remote work. One such intersection is the undeniable rise in pet ownership and its reverberations in the corporate arena. With pets playing an essential role in our lives, and 66% of American households having one in 2023, they’re no longer just part of our personal space. As job hunters seek workplaces that appreciate their holistic well-being, many are turning their attention to how companies accommodate the furry members of their families. The increasing demand for pet-friendly benefits underscores a broader shift: today’s professionals don’t just want a job; they want an environment that recognizes and respects their entire lifestyle, paws and all.

The workplace paws-itive impact: Catering to pet owners

A 2021 study by LiveCareer found that more than half of job hunters agree that pet-friendly benefits and policies are important when considering a potential employer. Furhtermore, 49% of respondants said that a pet-friendly work environment could convince them to accept a job offer.

For many, pets are part of the family. They play a pivotal role in ensuring our emotional and mental well-being (no pressure, Fido). From the wagging tail that greets you after a stressful meeting to the purring feline that becomes your sidekick during remote work hours, pets have a way of alleviating stress, offering companionship, and boosting overall morale. It’s no wonder that many claim enhanced productivity and mental clarity thanks to their furry friends.

Recognizing these intangible benefits, forward-thinking companies are rolling out the red carpet for pets. Not only to cater to a growing community of pet enthusiasts but also to foster a positive, supportive, and holistic work environment. Offering pet benefits, be it pet insurance or paw-ternity leaves, isn’t just a trendy perk. It’s a statement that a company understands and appreciates the full spectrum of an employee’s life and the factors that contribute to their well-being and productivity.

What pet benefits even exist?

As more and more individuals identify as dedicated pet parents, companies are beginning to recognize that the way to an employee’s heart might just be through their furry friend. So, what exactly are these coveted pet benefits, and which companies are pioneering this compassionate movement?

Pet-friendly offices

From Google to WeWork, companies across the country are recognizing the value of welcoming four-legged friends into the office—some for longer than others. Studies suggest that having pets in the workplace can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, and even improve communication. However, to ensure harmony, establishing rules is key. For example, having designated pet areas and behavior standards to accommodate everyone’s comfort.

Pet insurance

As veterinary care continues to advance, healthcare costs for pets have seen a notable rise. Pet insurance steps in as a relief for these expenses, allowing employees to ensure their pets receive necessary care without financial strain. Many companies are now offering pet insurance as an employee perk, showing they care about the entire family.

Pet bereavement leave

The emotional bond between humans and pets is profound. In recognizing this deep connection, some companies have introduced bereavement leave for the loss of a pet. This acknowledges the genuine grief employees experience and offers a compassionate response during a challenging time.

Pawternity leave

New pet parents understand that the initial days with a new furry friend, whether it’s a puppy or an adopted older pet, are crucial. Pawternity leave caters to this period, allowing employees to settle in their pets, attend to training, or manage initial veterinary visits. When discussing pawternity benefits, be sure to outline your commitment to work and how you’ll manage responsibilities during this period.

Pet-related discounts

Beyond the obvious benefits, some companies are going the extra mile by offering discounts on pet-related products and services. From savings on pet food and toys to deals on grooming or boarding services, these perks showcase an all-rounded commitment to employee’s furry family members.

Tips for negotiating pet benefits from a potential employer

If you’re a pet-loving job hunter looking for the cherry-on-the-cake benefit from a potential employer, here’s how to go about negotiating. Note that even if pet benefits aren’t listed on the job ad, you’re still free to bring it up spontaneously—after all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Do your homework

  • Research the company landscape: Before you approach the subject, delve into the company’s existing policies or stances on pets. Has there been a precedence? Are there any informal pet-friendly days that have taken place? Have current employees posted about dog-friendly offices or take your cat to work days?
  • Gauge the industry pulse: Understand where the industry stands when it comes to pet benefits. Some sectors might be more amenable to these benefits than others. This knowledge gives you leverage.

Make a business case

  • Showcase the benefits: Arm yourself with data. For instance, studies such as the aforementioned one from the National Library of Medicine, have shown that workplaces that allow pets can experience lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction. Such benefits can translate to reduced employee turnover and better overall productivity.
  • Anticipate and address concerns: It’s likely that concerns about allergies, potential noise, and distractions will arise. Be prepared to address these head-on. Perhaps suggest dedicated areas for pets or highlight the potential for scheduled breaks to manage pet needs.

Be flexible

  • Adaptability is key: While it would be ideal to have all your pet-related wishes granted, understand that there might be limitations. If an office isn’t open to full-time pet presence, would a once-a-month pet day be acceptable?
  • Seek alternatives: If pet insurance is off the table, maybe discounts on pet products or services can be negotiated instead.

Test the waters with a trial period

  • A no-strings-attached approach: Consider suggesting a temporary trial for certain benefits. For instance, proposing a pet-friendly office day once a week can help the management gauge its feasibility and impact without a long-term commitment.

Paw-sitive negotiations: Finding balance for you and your furry friend

The unbreakable bond you share with our pets doesn’t have to be strained because you’re looking for a new job! Use the relationship as a lever for negotiating and you could end up with a shiny new job that supports and treats your pet too.

When approaching the topic of pet benefits in the interview process, make sure you’ve done your research and are prepared to back up what you’re asking for. The potential employer might not even be aware that certain pet benefits exist, so provide them with the information and ask them to think about it. If they already have pet benefits in place, your goal is to ask for the right package for you and your pet. Whether it’s insurance, pet-friendly office days, or anticipated pawternity leave, know what you want and ask for it.

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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