Support Pawsitive Pet Effects for Employees

Welcome to February, a month of love and companionship. The stay-at-home order seems to be working, meaning we were all looking out for each other by keeping our distance. Things are looking up as we reopen businesses and wait for our vaccinations.

The new year didn’t start off as hoped and that may have led to more stress, isolation, and loneliness for employees and small business owners alike. We’re still looking for ways to best manage the strangeness of being unable to connect with others as we’ve done before.

As we check in with staff, ask how they’re doing, and encourage them to take care of themselves, we simultaneously need them to continue being productive employees to keep our businesses profitable. In countless video conferences or phone calls, we’ve been privy to aspects of their daily lives to which we weren’t previously.

There are significant others in the background, kids looking for attention, and the presence of one or more pets looking to sleep on a laptop, barking at a delivery van, or nosing around to see if there’s food. Pets are members of our families, our companions, and confidants.

So, are you wondering why it matters that people have pets? It’s because of the ‘pet effect.’ Many studies have been done to determine if pets have an overall beneficial influence on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of their owners.

There’s no denying that pets keep us social. Whether meeting other pet owners while out walking, at training classes, or buying supplies, pets allow us to make connections with other people and can help to enhance these relationships. Or, in the case where someone lives alone, a pet provides company.

Indeed, we become very emotionally attached to our furry, finned, and feathered friends. What’s better than coming home to find a pet waiting for you, happy to see you, and wanting to spend time with you? They help us feel more positive while reducing our anxiety and stress. Just petting a pet helps people feel calmer.

And let’s not forget that most dog owners are physically active by going outside for walks in nature while at the same time getting fresh air and taking a break from work and the stressors of home. These are all pawsitive things that you want for your employees!

Since some staff members may be intimidated by the cost of adopting a pet and the initial outlay to ensure it’s healthy and sterile, Wellness Accounts are a terrific way to support them and give them the benefit of the ‘pet effect.’

Wellness accounts are employee benefits and part of Health Care Spending Accounts, which can include pet insurance. Plan Sponsors (business owners) can reimburse plan members (employees) for the cost of pet adoption, neutering, vaccines, and other expenses related to their furry family member.

It may seem like a frivolous investment in employee wellness, but consider this: Research shows that employees believe employers have a responsibility to support their health. In fact, given the choice between a pay raise or a benefit plan almost 60% of employees would choose their benefits.

Helping staff through this rough time and seeing the health and wellness benefits for them will make you feel better, too. It’s an affordable option in your benefits portfolio.

And don’t think your actions won’t be remembered. Employees are looking at how owners are handling the pandemic crisis and considering whether or not to make a career change. Looking out for your most valuable assets will create loyalty and stability to help your business prosper.

Michele Mactaggart enjoying a break with Fuzzy

Is there any science behind the ‘pet effect?’ Studies are inconclusive. But if haven’t looked to your pet for comfort, snuggled up beside them, buried your face into their fur, felt their heart beating or their soothing purr, seen that look of love and devotion in their eyes, made fish faces into your aquarium, or tried to teach your bird to say, ‘I love you,’ you don’t know what you’re missing.

Talk to us about Wellness Accounts and our pets! We’d love to connect with you. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay updated on all of the small business information we share. We’re here to help. Stay safe and well.