Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, an event started 11 years ago to promote pet adoption by demonstrating to the uninitiated just how charming canine companions can be.
For some of us, every day is take your dog to work day. And as much as I bitch and moan about the insecurities of freelancing, there’s no question that I enjoy spending quality time with Frankie. And I take full responsibility for having incurred a DRSI (Dog Related Stress Injury) before I knew better than to let him rest his head on my wrist while I was typing.
But I started freelancing pre-Frankie. Perhaps you think that, in this tough job market, the notion of wanting a job that allows you to bring your dog along is a bit frivolous.
The dog-friendly workplace benefits employers, employees — and, potentially, the unemployed.
For the business owner
Nearly one in five businesses — most of them smaller or nontraditional — allow dogs on the premises, a policy that has little to do with benevolence. Studies show that welcoming pets increases productivity and reduces absenteeism. Some 66 percent of respondents to a Dogster.com survey said they would work longer hours if they had their dogs with them; 49 percent said they would switch jobs if they could take their dog to work; 32 percent said they’d take a pay cut to work with their dogs; and 70 percent considered a dog-friendly workplace an important employee benefit.
Thus, in lieu of cash bonuses, paid health care, and other more conventional perks that workers became accustomed to in the pre-tanked economy, welcoming dogs is an inexpensive way for employers to show their love.
If you run a business and want to attract canine-keen talent, get hold of Dogs at Work by Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing. Published by the Humane Society of the United States, this book not only lays out convincing arguments for the advantages of enacting dog-friendly policies but also provides step-by-step advice on how to do so effectively.
The benefits of a dog-friendly workplace are greater than just being able to hang out with your pup; you’ll also have an in with upper management. Let’s face it: Companies usually put out the animal welcome mat because the CEOs want their own dogs around. Legally, employers can’t avoid hiring people with dog allergies, phobias, and plain old dislikes (go figure), and their canine concerns have to be addressed. Such people might even have useful skills. But employees who can praise the boss’s pooch with genuine enthusiasm, or recommend the latest healthy food, have a definite advantage.
For the laid-off
Look on the bright side. Involuntarily becoming a freelancer, independent contractor, or plain old unemployed person allows you to spend more time with your dog — a perk that inspired many a boom-time decision to telecommute, whether it was publicly acknowledged or not. In most business circles, it’s still more acceptable to say, “I want to stay home with my children” than to assert, “My dog really needs me during this crucial furniture-chewing phase.”
Better still: In many places, commercial real estate is going for a song. This might be the perfect time for you to start your own pooch-friendly enterprise with other top talent that’s been let off a company’s leash.