Media CoverageSeptember 11, 2018

Employers offer "pawternity" benefits to attract animal lovers

CBS News' Jonathan Berr discusses pawternity benefits and the role that they play in attracting top-tier talent.

When employees at digital marketing firm Nina Hale adopt a pet, they can take "pawternity leave," enabling them to work from home for a week to help their new furry friend adjust to their new environment.

More businesses are adding pet-friendly policies to attract workers, thanks to a tight labor market. Even if an employer doesn't have a formal policy, some are allowing workers to use paid time off when pets become ill. 

"Part of embracing employee satisfaction as a business priority means recognizing important life events that happen outside of the office," Nina Hale CEO Donna Robinson said in a statement on the company's website. "If we want to continue to set the example as a top workplace, it is crucial to offer innovative benefits that help to preserve the work-life happiness of our employee owners.

New York-based software company mParticle offers what it calls "Pawternity" benefits: two weeks of paid time off for employees who adopt a rescue dog or cat. The company also welcomes dogs in the office.

Millennials are particularly keen on pet benefits since many of them are delaying having children and view furry companions as "their starter kits," according to Steven Feldman, executive director at Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), which conducts research into the health benefits of having pets.

"Those [pets] are just as much a part of their families as human kids will be later on," Feldman told SHRM.com. "They're looking for … acknowledgment [from employers] of the important role of pets in their lives."

Being pet-friendly pays off for businesses in terms of worker productivity, some studies suggest.

A recent survey HABRI conducted with Nationwide Insurance found that 90 percent of employees in pet-friendly workplaces felt connected to their employer's mission and were willing to recommend it to potential workers. By contrast, less than 65 percent of employees in non-pet friendly workplaces felt the same way. 

More than three times as many employees at pet-friendly companies reported having a positive relationship with their bosses and co-workers. These workers also were more likely to remain with a pet-friendly employer over the long run, the study said.

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