Today is National Pet Day and I know I’m biased, but I’m certain I have one of the cutest pups on the planet!
Bailey Klipfel joined our family at a hectic time – my husband and I were working full-time and traveling a lot, and had two girls, both under age 5. Even though it was a huge commitment to take on the added responsibility of being a pet owner, we knew immediately it was the right choice. One of the greatest gifts Bailey has given our family is greater empathy. She has taught my daughters how to care about something other than themselves and on our hardest days, has shown us unconditional love.
I recently read that one sure-fire way to raise empathetic children is to get them a dog. Now that we have a pup of our own, I really believe that to be true! I also believe that being a pet owner has made me a more empathetic leader within my organization. Many of my colleagues have pets as well and I can see first-hand how their love for their pets translates to a more empathetic approach in the office.
In honor of National Pet Day, here are three lessons I’ve learned from being Bailey’s mom that can help make your workplace more positive and more empathetic:
1. Flexibility is the best reward.
When our family got Bailey, it was a chaotic time, but my husband (who works for Stryker, No. 19 on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work) and I were provided the flexibility we needed to make it work – we were able to adjust our schedules to take her to the vet, or work from home when she was sick. That flexibility was truly the deciding factor that allowed our family to bring Bailey home.
All employees – pet parents or not – appreciate flexibility. For example, we know most Millennials are most likely to have pet insurance, and that the majority (76 percent) are more likely to splurge on their pets than themselves. With that in mind, Businessolver started bringing a mobile vet onsite once a month to provide employees the flexibility to bring their pets to work and care for their furry family member’s health. It’s also an opportunity to reach our employees regarding their own health, without being overt. For example, our vet reinforces that walking your dog twice a day can prolong his/her life. So, while prolonging their dog’s life, our employees are also getting more exercise. Score!
2. Giving to others – like long walks and games of fetch– makes the world a better place.
We can always count on Bailey to give us a warm welcome home at the end of the work day. In fact, I can always count on her to give love and positivity to our family, no matter the circumstance. She’s a shining example of how important it is to give and put others first.
In 2016, Businessolver launched the Businessolver Foundation to give back to our communities through service. It allows our team to rally together around causes that are important to us and give back in a meaningful way. For example, earlier this year, we raised funds and dedicated time to the Puppy Jake Foundation, which matches wounded warriors with service dogs.
Not only do our employees enjoy the opportunity to work together and serve, but philanthropy helps us foster relationships, promote engagement, and boost morale.
3. Extra treats are never a bad thing.
Bailey has also taught me that sometimes an extra treat here and there can make all the difference. In recent years, employees have asked for more treats, so to speak, when it comes to options in voluntary benefits. Voluntary offerings allow employees to take their standard benefits one step further and add another layer of personalization to their coverage. Ultimately, this helps workers achieve their unique goals and provides support they might not have otherwise.
Of course, one of the most popular voluntary benefits continues to be pet insurance. A Harris poll finds that American pet owners spend more than $15 billion on veterinary care. Helping employees take care of these furry family members is a key way to engage employees, especially Millennials. Since many members of this demographic are still on their parents’ health insurance plans, they’re willing to spend part of their discretionary income to protect their pets.