In today’s tight labor market, companies are increasingly aware that family-friendly benefits can help them stay on workers’ good sides. Target, for example, announced this week that it’s increasing paid parental leave and childcare benefits for its 350,000 workers, including part-time staff, while Nike revealed plans to expand its popular subsidized daycare program (and ran into some employee backlash in the process).
But in an era when many millennials are delaying parenthood and—according to some hypotheses—getting dogs instead of having babies, a number of companies are realizing that their family-friendly policies ought to accommodate furry members of the household, too.
A new report from the pet-sitting site Rover.com offers insight into how canine-centric benefits are making their way into the modern American office. Rover’s inaugural ranking of the best dog-friendly companies evaluated roughly 100 employers across the US. The ranking was based on the availability of benefits like pet insurance, as well as on online survey of 1,238 US adults who owned dogs and worked in an office and prioritized the pup policies they care about most.
The survey suggests that dog owners are most impressed by companies that offer subsidized pet health insurance, followed by on-site amenities like dog parks and treats, compensation for dog-sitters when employees are out of town for work, and bereavement policies that give workers take time off after the death of a pet.
So who came out on top of the heap? Amazon—a company that’s faced plenty of criticism over its treatment of human employees—was number one when it comes to white-collar workers’ dogs. “Amazon supports its 6,000 registered dogs with an on-campus dog park and plenty of free poop bags and treats,” Rover reports. A post on Amazon’s official company blog, Day One, explains that the campus has a building with a deck just for dogs on the 17th floor, furnished with a fake fire hydrant, and notes that Amazon also holds dog-focused events for workers such as Barktoberfest, featuring a dog Halloween costume contest.
Other big tech companies also placed high on the list. Airbnb received a special call-out for its equal treatment of pups: “Office dogs get their own badges to be scanned in and have a “people” page in the internal database, just like employees.” Uber, a company that has made headlines for its toxic workplace culture, is apparently a relaxing place for dogs to hang out: “With dog beds around the office, there is always a place for pups to lounge,” Rover says.
Providing a happy environment for both workers and dogs needn’t be mutually exclusive endeavors. Salesforce, frequently ranked among the best companies to work for in the US, landed in the 12th-place spot, getting kudos from Rover for the designated floor in its headquarters where employees can bring their canine companions.
Unsurprisingly, many of the companies that placed high on Rover’s ranking are themselves in the pet business. Trupanion, a pet-insurance company, Nestle Purina Petcare, as well as pet-supplies retailers PetSmart, Petco, and Chewy were among the companies that cracked the top 12.
Any employer considering jumping on the bandwagon should consider the downsides of welcoming dogs. Some people have allergies, some have legitimate phobias, and some hate returning to their desks only to find their computer cords chewed up by a co-worker’s puppy.
But allowing dogs in the office—and providing other pet-friendly perks—is a way for employers to signal that they’re invested in their workers’ emotional and mental health. “We know that work-life balance, company culture, and feeling supported both professionally and emotionally in the workplace are some of the biggest factors taken into account when a person is either looking for a new job or deciding whether or not to stay in a current role,” Jovana Teodorovic, Rover’s head of people and culture, says.
Research suggests that the presence of dogs in the office can help workers feel less stressed; indeed, as any dog-lover can attest, the problems of modern life often seem to melt away when you’re gazing into the doleful eyes of a spaniel or scratching the right spot behind a Scottie’s ear.
Other research suggests that the presence of dogs can facilitate collegial conversations. At Amazon, the four-legged companions have been “an unexpected mechanism for connection,” according to Lara Hirschfield, the company’s “Woof Pack” manager.
Perhaps that’s why tech companies in particularly seem keen on making Take Your Dog to Work Day (mark your calendars for June 21) an everyday occurrence. As the Financial Times’ Leslie Hook notes (paywall), in Silicon Valley, dogs aren’t necessary “to guard the campfire. Instead they are playing a role that is every bit as vital in the modern office—helping to socialize their owners.”