The cat is out of the bag: Pet-friendly perks are a must have

LAS VEGAS — To attract talent, offering healthcare to employees is crucial to remain competitive, but employers are increasingly providing health and wellness perks to extended four-legged family members to keep workers engaged.

An overwhelming majority of employees say they feel highly connected to their employer’s mission when pet-friendly policies and benefits are in place, according to research from Nationwide and the Human Animal Bound Research Institute.

With millennials making up the majority of the workforce today, and that majority having a high likelihood to owning a pet, benefit managers have a real opportunity to engage with this demographic, said Anthony Sharett, president of Nationwide Pet Insurance.

“It is paramount that employers consider adding pet friendly perks such as allowing pets in the workplace or offering pet health insurance a sa voluntary employee benefit,” he said.

In fact, 72% of employees would decline a job offer with another company at similar pay to work in a pet-friendly environment, according to the study.

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To most, pets are considered an extension of that person’s family, Sharett told Employee Benefit News, speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference. “Any time you can offer a benefit to the extension of their family is a good thing,” he said.

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An employee works at his desk with a dog at the Workday Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Workday makes applications that help companies with mundane tasks like keeping payroll, plotting expenses, tracking employee absences and managing job candidates. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

Engagement also skyrockets at companies with pet-friendly policies, the study notes, with 91% of respondents saying they feel fully engaged in a pet-friendly workplace, compared to only 65% who say they feel fully engaged in a non-pet-friendly atmosphere.

“HR pros understand to retain quality people is less about compensation and more about making people feel valued,” he added.

But employers who can’t develop a pet-friendly workplace strategy can also look into offering pet insurance to employees. There is only a 2% to 3% penetration in the pet insurance market, Sharett said, noting the wide opportunity employers have to develop this voluntary benefit.

The cost of care is increasing for pet healthcare, he noted. To address this challenge, he said Nationwide is looking to expand its offerings to tailor the benefit to specific employee needs.

For example, he added, such as offering benefits for emergency-care only, or more holistic ongoing health and wellness plans.

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