The key to a successful pet-friendly workplace program is a clear pet policy. It needs to help pet owners and non-pet owners understand the rules, expectations and how to address issues that might arise.
Keep in mind that all employees are affected by a pets-at-work program – not just those who have pets. So, your pet policy needs to encompass more than just the behavior of the pets who will visit. It needs to address the entire experience for all involved.
Steps to create your pet policy
Every organization is different, so plan to follow whatever process will work best knowing your needs and culture. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Establish a small team to write the policy:
- Include a few people who want pets at work as well as a few who can play devil’s advocate.
- Be sure to include someone from Human Resources and from your legal counsel.
- Have representatives from different areas of the organization to be sure all needs are reflected.
- Include a leadership sponsor who will help you navigate any needs in terms of convincing management to proceed.
If you want to build buy-in and help employees feel engaged in the policy, conduct a survey to get their input. Topics could include:
- Which types of pets should be allowed.
- How often pets should be allowed at work (e.g. every day or certain days a week).
- Which pet amenities are most important.
- What rules are most important to pet owners.
- What rules are most important to non-pet owners.
Be sure that your pet policy includes.
- Clear scope – who is eligible to participate, which of your organization’s sites are included, etc.
- Clear expectations for participants and participating pets.
- An escalation process for handling issues that might occur.
- An agreed-to participant pledge that employees must sign in order to participate.