Many pet owners think of their pets as members of the family! What happens when that pet passes away? The grief can be comparable to that of losing a family member.
In fact, nearly 1 in 3 people grieve and feel sadness for at least six months after losing a pet. About 20% exhibit the same numbness, shock, disbelief, guilt or anger as people grieving another person’s death. While many employers offer bereavement leave for human family members, pet bereavement is a relatively new idea.
Employers are offering pet bereavement as a “boutique” benefit to retain employees and attract new talent, like millennials, who place a strong value on a company’s ethics when job searching. With 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies offering pet insurance and 19 percent of millennials purchasing it, the idea of offering a pet bereavement benefit may not be that far-fetched.
The Changing Role of Pets
The concept of offering employees paid time off so they can mourn the death of a pet may have been unheard of a couple of decades ago, but it is becoming more popular. The bond between humans and animals has never been stronger. Approximately 95 percent of participants in a Harris Poll said they considered their pets to be family members. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, were the findings in the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey.
The role of pets in our society is changing. Because people are waiting longer to get married and have children, their pets are able to fill a physical and emotional void. Taking a few days off of work can help grieving employees recuperate and help them in the long-term.
More Companies Are Recognizing Pet Loss
The concept of offering pet bereavement leave is still in its infancy, and some employers offer more time than others. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in San Francisco offers as many as three days of pet bereavement leave to employees. Other companies, including some units of Mars Inc., offer one or more days off, flexible hours, or the freedom to work from home after a pet’s death.
Offering pet bereavement leave may be appropriate for some workplaces, but since this benefit would only apply to workers with pets, it may seem unfair to those who aren’t pet owners. However, people without children are ineligible for parental leave, so that situation is similar.
If offering a pet bereavement benefit is not feasible, you can still show you care about employees who experienced the loss of a pet by referring them to The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. Founded by Dr. Wallace Sife in 1997, this group offers comprehensive resources that include free chat rooms and links to pet bereavement support groups in the United States and Canada. As a business owner, you should also talk to your employee to show you empathize with them.
Crazy Smart, or Just Crazy?
What do you think? Is this a benefit that your employees would appreciate? In today’s job market, this could be a great employee recruiting tool that gives you an advantage over your competitors. It can also improve company culture, allowing for greater retention of employees. In addition to group benefits, pet bereavement should be something to really consider for your company.
At Thams Agency, we help business owners find a benefit-rich group insurance plan that fits their business and employees. If you need assistance and would like us to help, please call our office at (712) 263-3193 or head over to our contact page to get started. We would be happy to help!