Does it feel like everyone you know has a new dog or cat lately? According to a recent analysis by the Insurance Information Institute, that feeling is more of a reality than you may realize: since the pandemic began, nearly 1 in 3 Americans adopted a pet, and now upwards of 67% of households boast at least one animal.

This rise in pet ownership brings forth new pain points and concerns for employees across the country as employers begin to weigh their return to work plans. A pressing new consideration for employee experience for workers used to spending nearly two years at home with their animals? How to care for their pets if they must return to the office.

Banfield Pet Hospital recently ran a survey of pet owners around their attitudes when it comes to leaving remote work behind. Here are the takeaways and what they mean for you — and your people:

Will pandemic pet bonds be broken?

In their survey, Banfield looked deeper into the rapid growth of pet ownership since COVID-19 began and uncovered a few employee trends HR leaders should pay close attention to:

“1 in 3 people – and nearly 1 in 2 Gen Zers – say they got a new pet during the pandemic. While quarantine has come with many challenges, it’s only brought pets and their people closer together, with nearly 80% saying they were able to bond with their pet more during this time.”

As we transition into a new stage of the pandemic where many workers must return to the office, pet owners are voicing concerns:

“63% say increased time at home has made them think more about how their pets can fit into their workday post-pandemic, and 57% agree they’ll be most happy returning to their workplace if they can bring their pets with them.”

Office support for pets is a must, but employers should go further

Banfield’s study took a close look at what steps employers could take to support pet parents if they must return to the workplace. Without a solid and cohesive plan from their employers, many workers fear they’ll have to rehome their pets or take on new, costly expenses to provide appropriate care for their furry family members while they’re back at work.

“1 in 5 owners – including 1 in 3 Gen Zers and 1 in 5 millennials – are considering rehoming their pets if they can’t bring them to the office when they return to work.
68% of Gen Zers and 42% of millennials plan to hire a dog walker, take their pet to daycare or do a combination of both once they return to the workplace.”

The future of pet-friendly workplaces

Banfield’s study highlights the growing need for employers to embrace pet-friendly policies and benefits. A majority of organizational leaders surveyed say they’re taking notice of growing employee demands:

“59% of leaders said they’re implementing pet-friendly policies because of employee requests. And 58% cite understanding that their staff has gotten used to spending all day with their pets during the pandemic.”

For employees, the ability to switch jobs has never been more attractive or easier. This new war for talent only underscores the urgency needed for organizations to take a proactive approach in supporting a wide range of pet owners’ needs. With half of Gen Z and a third of millennials saying they plan to leave their job if the workplace is not pet friendly, the following Banfield findings should play an important role in future policy discussions at every company:

“Of pet owners who wish to bring their pets to the office:
38% cite being worried their pet will experience separation anxiety;
37% want the companionship of their pet at work;
28% think their pets can help keep them calm during those stressful workdays;
And 23% say they’ll be more productive with their pet as a desk mate.”

Does your organization have a plan to support the needs of pet parents?

Get in touch with our team to discuss how Airvet for Employers can help.

Read the full Banfield Pet Hospital survey here

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