Yeah, I have a cat. I brought her home one day (then a kitten) without asking my husband. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy. But guess who is still with us 4 years later? My cat.
So, why do I love this cat so much? The answer is simple: she loves me. And, now that I work mostly from home, she is also my assistant, my co-worker, and my coffee-break buddy. She even annoys me like all co-workers should, especially when she jumps up on my laptop mid-type. Or when she gives me birthday presents I will never use, like, say, a dead chipmunk. Equally important, she’s also at my feet when I feel like I want to cry. That’s how she rolls. And, apparently, that’s how I roll too.
So, here is the real deal. My pet, like many of yours, is a part of the family. Period. So, if you want the best chance of making the short-list of organizations I’d choose to work for, create benefit programs that are pro-pet. Great organizations already know, to recruit the best employees, you’ve got to recruit their spouse. This simply means you have a better chance of landing that A+ employee when you offer items that will benefit the entire family. In 2018, the “entire family” now also includes Fido.
Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows they are part of the family. And, as a part of the family, you must spend money on them to keep them healthy. At times, lots of money. For instance, when I was in my mid-20s, my ex-husband accidentally sat on our kitten, who was well-hidden under a bunch of blankets. $10,000 and 4 metal rods later, her broken legs were fine. I mean, we sat on her! We were going to pay for her treatment. Considering I had maybe two nickels to rub together, this was not an ideal situation. But all was not bad, our credit card company was thrilled at our misfortune!
But, if you need more proof of humans’ loyalty, check this out:
- 55% of pet owners spend $75 a month on their pet
- 76% buy their pets presents a couple of times per month for no reason
- 88% celebrate their pet’s birthday
- 71% buy clothing for their pet
- Americans spent $15.95 billion on vet services a year (2016)
- Americans spent $14.93 billion on OTC medications (2016)
At this point, it would be a great recruiting/retention strategy to create pro-pet programs such as pet insurance, PTO time that includes caring for pets, offering discounts on pet supplies, or having pet-friendly offices. People are waiting longer to have children of their own, so they are starting their family life with a pet. And the jury is out: three times the number of people say dogs in an office make it a “cool place to work” than people who vote for ping pong tables (PRAISE JESUS).
If you want to start somewhere, consider offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. When I’m not at home, I’m usually attending an HR conference (or 10) throughout the year. I’m stoked to see more and more Pet Insurance vendors in the expo hall. It’s becoming a more and more popular employee benefits offering, for good reason. As this Fortune Magazine article states, “Since 65% of Americans own at least one pet, almost 2/3 of your employees may shoulder sizable veterinary costs.”
Or perhaps companies just need to be cognizant of creating employee experiences that include our fur-babies. Great corporations know that to attract and retain the best modern workers, they have to create better employee experiences—experiences that will allow workers who are having a hell of a time being loyalty to work, family and self, find some peace. This peace may come from a flexible working arrangement, or maybe through a trust-based environment where I can cry in front of my boss when life happens, or great health benefits that help my children and now my cat.
Some may say this post is proof my cat is mind-controlling me. But, if your intuition doesn’t tell you it’s time to bring Fido into your workplace strategies, then the statistics should. And, if someone like my husband can come around to loving a cat (he won’t admit it, but he does love her), then certainly your company can too!
Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.