Employee perks can sometimes be the difference between landing a great candidate for a job and a good one. For decades, companies have been trying to come up with all kinds of ideas to land solid workers, but the nature of those perks are changing. Instead of offering things such as a gourmet cafeteria or on-site massages, hipper and edgier companies are looking for different ways to reward people such a “fur-ternity leave.” It’s all the rage, and it is a way to help others do good.
Fur-ternity leave, or as some companies call it, “paw-ternity leave,” is when a company gives their employees time off for adopting a new pet. While no one wants to equate it to maternity or paternity leave, pets are family, and recognizing them as such is important to many employees according to the New York Times. There is no standard formula for how this works. It seems like the companies that are offering it have their own rules about what qualifies for the leave and whether it is paid or unpaid time off. Allison McMenimen, a vice president at Nina Hale, a Minneapolis marketing firm offering fur-ternity leave, discussed why her company began offering the perk.
“This is kind of a no-brainer. The idea of offering benefits that just help keep employees at the office, that’s over.”
The benefits of pets have been known for decades. They can help ease stress and provide companionship without judgment to people who sometimes work long and odd hours. McMenimen said that her company began looking into fur-ternity leave when one of their employees asked if he could work from home for a week to help his newly adopted puppy make the transition to a new home. She said the answer was immediately yes. After that, she and a co-worker began drafting the framework for the perk.
The framework for fur-ternity leave was drafted in May and made an official policy by July. So far, only a couple of employees in the 85-person firm have taken advantage of it, but they expect that will grow over time. New York data company mParticle has a similar program giving employees who adopt a rescue animal or an exotic pet like an iguana two weeks of paid leave to help ease their adjustment to a new home.
McMenimen discussed the importance of the new policy, saying that it recognizes the needs of their employees who are at different stages in their lives. Not everyone is crazy about free coffee at work or a gourmet lunch, but pets are important to people. She also said she is now considering adopting a pet.