Believe it or not, there’s a growing trend among some employers to offer a new benefit: “pawternity leave,” or leave for new pet owners. Offerings range from a few days of leave up to a week or more, and might come in addition to other pet-related benefits, such as pet insurance, pet adoption consulting, bereavement leave—and even bring-your-pet-to-work policies. So, should you join the trend?
Admittedly, while “pawternity leave” is certainly unique, this type of benefit might not work for many businesses. However, its growing popularity offers a good reminder for all employers: you should be thinking about the types of benefits your workforce might want—even if those benefits are a little untraditional. In doing so, the following tips can help.
First, know your workforce. What are their values, what matters most to them, what do they enjoy? Employers offering pet-related benefits know that the type of employees they hope to attract and retain value the presence of a furry companion in their lives—so much so that they consider their pet part of the family. This might not be true for your workforce. But if that’s the case, then what does top your employees’ list? If you don’t know, it’s worth finding out. Consider going straight to the source: conduct surveys to ask your workforce what benefits they’d like to see most. Not all suggestions may be viable, but they’ll provide valuable insight on your employees’ priorities either way. Or, perform market research regarding similar companies to try and find out what matters most to employees in your industry.
Second, think outside the box. Once you’ve got a handle on what your workforce wants, how can you best offer it to them? Think creatively, and don’t be afraid to see what your competitors are offering. “Pawternity leave” has been a popular benefit offering among employers who tend to attract a younger workforce and are in urban areas, likely because such employees tend to own pets in higher percentages. But other employers might find that their workforce prefers different benefits. Perhaps purchasing season tickets to a popular area sports team for employee rewards and use, stocking healthy prepackaged meals at the office, or providing college counseling assistance for employees with high-school aged children, might be better fits.
Third, recognize that a benefits offering doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to make a big impact. Even a small change can really make a difference if it’s targeted at your workforce’s biggest priorities. Regardless, employee satisfaction will often pay for itself in spades. Plus, it’s certainly more cost-effective (and more beneficial) than paying for benefits that your workforce won’t use, or doesn’t appreciate. Study after study has shown that happiness is key to productivity. Happy employees are productive employees (who are also less likely to jump ship for a competitor). Your employees are one of your most valuable resources, so consider what you can offer to ensure that they remain that way. And heck, who wouldn’t want time off to play with a new puppy?