Bring a Dog to Work to Increase Employee Retention Rates

With employees looking for higher wages as the economy improves, employers might think dissatisfaction with pay is the main factor behind turnover. However, pay is not the only reason workers leave. A recent survey found that pay was only one of several factors workers ranked as important. With this in mind, there are a number of ways to improve employee retention without increasing pay rates.

In Minnesota, a number of nonprofits have developed dog-friendly policies, which they believe help with overall morale and retention of employees. Todd Schoolman, the head of HR for the human services organization Opportunity Partners, told the Star Tribune the bring-your-dog-to-work policy is part of the nonprofit’s wellness program. He was, perhaps, a bit self-interested in that he has a 13-year-old cockapoo named Ruby that makes employee rounds with him. But he also he had data to back up his point; a 2010 study from Central Michigan University found that dogs produce better employee morale and higher levels of production and collaboration.

“We came up with this last spring when we were looking at incentives we could give our people that are not tied to money,” said Todd Schoolman. “We see it as an extension of our wellness plan. We want to make the workplace enjoyable.” Since then, dozens of Opportunity Partners employees have gotten their manager’s approval to bring their pets to work at the nonprofit’s offices, as well as its group homes.

In Minnesota, direct support professionals assist some 100,000 people with developmental and physical disabilities. Their wages, which range from $10 to $15 an hour, are locked in place by state reimbursement rates. But because the work is demanding, with high responsibility and low salaries, hanging on to quality staff is a constant struggle. There are an estimated 8,700 vacant direct support professional positions in Minnesota.

The price of turnover is steep. The Society for Human Resource Management pegs the cost of losing a single employee at $4,129, based on lost productivity and training replacements. For more information on how to improve employee retention without increasing pay rates, contact MITC.