July 7 is Pets at Work Day – an event organised by Nestle Purina PetCare with the support of the SPCA and the Mental Health Foundation to inspire more organisations to experience the benefits of bringing pets to work.

Did you know that insurance and allergies may not be the issues you think? All you need to do is encourage employees to make sure their pet insurance covers damage to third-party property or injury to third-parties, and with just a little extra planning, allergies can be handled.

The timing couldn’t be better – 42% of working millennials would like or enjoy a dog-friendly workplace as they look to increase their work-life balance, a quarter say a dog-friendly workplace would be more attractive to them and more than a quarter (28%) of employers would like to put a dog-friendly policy in place while 27% already have one!

Companies looking for an edge in attracting the nation’s top millennial talent might want to consider dog-friendly workplace policies given that a quarter (24%) of millennials say this kind of workplace is more attractive to them. Two-fifths (39%) feel it would boost workplace morale while 15% say dogs in the office would make them feel that their company cares about their happiness.

The new research also revealed millennials are even willing to give up some of their current traditional work perks to introduce a dog-friendly scheme. Over a quarter (28%) of millennials would give up free office yoga and 16% would even give up gym membership to allow dogs in the office.

Fortunately, decision-makers are catching-up fast. More than a quarter (28%) of employers would like to put a dog-friendly policy in place while 27% already have one. Nearly half (46%) of employers who had already introduced dogs to their firm said it created a friendlier atmosphere, while 41% found it calmed and de-stressed the office.

31% of employers also said that understanding the benefits of pet ownership, such as how dogs help lower blood pressure or how dog owners live on average three years longer; would make them consider putting a dog-friendly scheme in place.

However many firms are deterred by the complexity with 17% citing the time and effort involved in implementing such a policy as an issue. Purina has launched the Pets at Work (PAW) Alliance to encourage firms to become dog-friendly so more businesses, employees and dogs can enjoy the benefits.

There is a PAW toolkit with six easy steps for a successful Pets at Work scheme, as well as health and safety advice, responsible pet ownership guidelines and education and advice on workspace requirements. The toolkit is based on Purina’s own experience creating schemes across Europe and research with multiple businesses about the simplest strategy to bring in a dog-friendly policy and reap the benefits. All of this makes a dog-friendly policy easier to adopt and cost-effective, with the goal being for Purina to help 200 organisations open their doors to pets by 2020.

Purina Human Resources Director, Paul Steadman commented:

“At Purina, we believe that people and pets are better together – especially at work. From our own experience, we know that pet-friendly workplaces lead to a whole range of positive benefits such as higher employee engagement, talent retention, greater wellbeing, higher performance and productivity, increased inspiration and decreased stress. Moreover, dogs are by nature sociable and affectionate. Coming to work offers them the opportunity to spend more time with their owners and to socialise with other dogs and colleagues.

“We want to help other UK businesses to adopt pet-friendly policies and reap the benefits by providing a toolkit that helps to simplify the process. The perceived complexity of implementing a dog-friendly policy can be a barrier for some organisations and so how to help businesses of any size to introduce their own scheme has been one of the key factors in developing our Pets at Work toolkit.”

Manchester-based activation agency Rapport have had great success with their dog-friendly offices. “Having the option of bringing a dog into work has made it possible for me to become a dog owner. It means the world to me to be able to incorporate my dog into my work life,” comments Hannah Cross-Phillipson, Creative Lead at Rapport. “Pet Fridays are a highlight in our office week, especially for those who don’t own dogs and now get to have their weekly dose of doggy love. Having a dog around lifts the mood and energy in the office. It also forces us to get out and enjoy some fresh air throughout the day.”

Purina is inviting British firms to join the Pets at Work Alliance, a group of businesses and organizations from across Europe committed to instigating a Pets at Work Policy. To join the alliance or access the toolkit visit https://www.purina.co.uk/pins/pets-at-work.