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The rise of the pet friendly employer—benefits, bereavement and bonding

Over the past 20 years, companies have begun to recognize the value in creating healthier, happier work environments for their employees. Wellness programs have sprung up at companies across the country, fueled by study outcomes that indicate healthy workers are more productive, more loyal, and less likely to suffer illnesses that require prolonged absences or hospitalization. 

A similar connection has been made between pets and humans. Studies have revealed myriad human health benefits from pet ownership: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pets can increase opportunities for exercise, while decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And psychologically, pets improve happiness and decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

More organizations are recognizing that pets are linked to happiness, and happiness is linked to productivity. As such, they are celebrating pets in the workplace by providing several pet-themed offerings for their employees—everything from pet bereavement days to offering pet insurance as a benefit. Here we’ll outline a few pet benefits employees may be offered.

Pet Bereavement

The humanization of pets—strengthening the human and animal bond—have contributed to growing concern for pet health preservation and quality of life, as well as a rise in premium pet products and services. Pet owners are seeking out higher quality foods, high-end accessories and expensive medical treatments. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found a positive correlation between the degree of human/animal bond and pet spending. Pets once referred to as companions, are now considered “fur babies” by their owners.

Both the humanization of pets and the increased demand for life-sustaining veterinary care have afforded pet parents longer periods of bonding with their pets. And when a beloved pet dies, parents and families are grief-stricken. Although there are a number of pet loss resources and support groups available, some employers have taken the grief process to heart by offering paid leave to employees. It is rare to find an employer that offers this benefit, but those that do, cite the special bond formed between pets and humans, and the need for employees to regroup when a cherished pet dies.

Pet Insurance Benefits

The advancement in pet medical care and the rising demand for treatment, poses a financial challenge for loving pet parents. Large veterinary hospitals and specialty clinics provide a range of advanced treatment options—everything from neurological services to orthopedic surgery—but it can come at a steep price to employees. 

Pet insurance provides coverage—up to 100% of veterinary medical costs—for unexpected accidents, injuries and illnesses. For a small monthly premium, pet parents are empowered to make care-based rather than cost-based health care decisions.

Currently, 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies offer pet insurance to their employees, and that trend continues to rise with the increase in millennials entering the workforce. “[Companies] realize that benefits differentiation is more than a trend, and by taking care of employees’ pets, they are in effect taking care of their employees,” stated Figo Pet Insurance founder and CEO, Rusty Sproat. 

Pets in the Workplace

In 2012, a study at Virginia Commonwealth University showed that employees who are allowed to bring their pets to work not only have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, but also are happier, more productive, and more loyal to their employers. While the trend hasn’t caught on everywhere, it has gained momentum. 

Here’s a look at what some forward-thinking companies are doing to create pet-friendly environments for their employees:

Atlantic Health. Atlantic not only allows pets in the workplace, but also provides therapy dogs to patients. 

Salesforce. This San Francisco-based software company has a special office made specifically for visiting pets—complete with soundproof walls, water bowls, and dog beds. They also offer pet insurance, per daycare, and dog-walking services

Mars. The well-known candy company allows employees to bring their pets to work, and also offers discounts on pet care when workers are traveling on business. The company also participates in regular volunteer projects that help animal causes. 

Kimpton Hotels. Kimpton has taken a very progressive view toward the role of pets in their employees’ lives. Not only are office workers permitted to bring pets to work, but the company also offers pet insurance, time off for bereavement of a lost pet, and amenities for visiting pets.


If you are an employee interested in securing pet benefits for your organization, or if you are a human resources professional interested in learning more about offering pet insurance as an employee benefit, visit figopetinsurance.com/employers.

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