Pet Illness and Loss in the Workplace

The benefits of pets in the workplace are well documented - positively impacting morale, work relationships, sense of well being, company loyalty, productivity, and feelings about work-life balance. When a furry companion becomes an office regular, they start to feel like part of the team.     

Even when we can’t bring our pets to the office, we’re happy to share stories and photos. Our pets are part of our identity. 95% of participants in a 2015 Harris poll said they considered their pets to be family members.   

How do you support employees when their pet becomes seriously ill or passes? What can you do for other team members that may be impacted? Pet illness and loss can take a mental and physical toll as pet owners juggle work and family commitments, trips to the vet, administration of medication, and are faced with end of life decisions. It can be overwhelming and impact productivity, effectiveness and engagement.  Studies suggest that 30% of pet owners grieve and feel sadness six months after the passing of their pet.   

Fear of embarrassment, judgement or mockery make people reluctant to ask for what they need and they can become withdrawn in the workplace, at a time when they need support. While colleagues may have the best intentions, statements like “it was just a dog” can minimize the loss.    

What if employers built a culture of empathy and respect for the owner-pet relationship? Had more open dialogue about it? What if organizational leaders set the tone?  It can have a significant impact on culture, employer brand, retention and engagement.

I can help organizations:

  • Learn how to better support employees working through the experience of pet illness and loss
  • Navigate the emotional impact after the loss of an office pet
  • Create a culture of empathy, not sympathy
  • Identify ways to support team members without the need for formal policies
  • Recognize the illness or loss in a thoughtful and appropriate manner     

Taking the time to understand pet illness and loss, and following through with simple actions can help a team member on their path to healing.  They'll appreciate being part of a company that cares.

Contact me to discuss lunch and learn opportunities, individual or team support sessions, and strategies for providing a supportive environment for team members.   

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