Why not create a policy to help company morale?
Having spent my career working for Tribes, I have always appreciated the focus on future generations and the generosity towards community and family. This focus is the foundation for many innovative workplace policies that I believe lead businesses to workplace balance. Years ago, I remember being introduced to the administration team for the Yurok Tribe in Northern California and seeing several babies throughout the building. One was being bounced on a woman’s hip as she talked to several coworkers and another was sleeping in a crib as his mom worked away at the computer. It took me several days to finally ask, “Are babies allowed at work?” More recently, at the Coquille Tribal Administration you will see not only babies, but under some desks you may see a dog.
Many companies are adopting these new workplace policies. Infant-at-work policies have benefits for the parent and coworkers, and who doesn’t love a puppy? Well, realistically not everyone appreciates a screaming baby or “puppy smell.” However, these issues can be mitigated by adopting formal policies.
Why might these policies be important to attract and retain talent?
Let’s start with the infant/children-at-work policy. In general, the workforce is demanding more flexibility. When it comes to parents, and especially new ones, this is key. Adopting this type of policy benefits the employer by reducing the amount of time that a key team member takes off.
As for pets: according to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households own a pet (84.6 million homes). Additionally, millennials are now the largest segment of pet owners, followed by baby boomers. I realize there may be a few haters who think that the responsibility of owning a pet is nothing like having a child. Agreed. However, many millennials consider their furry creature a “starter child” and, similar to boomers, consider their pet as a part of the family. Scientific studies have also found that team members who brought their dogs to work reduced stress throughout the day compared to colleagues without pets.
Recently at Raving we have implemented a pet policy. Well, maybe we welcomed the pet and are now in the process of creating a formal policy.
Our cover model Benny came to us through Gency. She’s been grateful to bring in her five-month-old pup and share him with the Raving team. “Bringing Benny to the office has been invaluable for his socializing and training. They say that pets lower stress levels; the entire team seems happy to see him every day and take a break to talk and to hold him. Their patience, helpfulness and genuine interest have deepened the relationship I have with each of them.” Chris was also grateful for the option to bring in her dogs Stella and Stan (shown hanging at our Raving office) when the temps soared to over 100 (although Stan may not be invited back due to his gas issues).
Clearly these policies will not work in all areas of our organizations. It would be tough to be a dealer with a baby in a backpack. However, when thoughtfully implemented, these benefits can create a remarkable change in company morale. It is important to address the following areas when developing these policies.
- Ensure the safety of the infant, animal, and those around them.
- Identify potential workplace disruptions and outline how these can be mitigated or prevented.
- Outline the responsibility of the team member taking advantage of the policy.
- Identify the limits or restrictions.
- What must you consider for the other team members? (Headphones, a “no dog zone”).
In a tight labor market and a workplace with changing expectations, employers who are actively addressing these changes by creating a new workplace culture will be ahead of their competition when it comes to retaining creative and progressive team members.
As for Raving’s Benny the “Super Dog,” you can email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.