Companies are becoming increasingly employee-centric, offering unique perks–from the generous to the unheard of–with pet insurance being one of the front runners.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, in 2007, pet owners spent $9.8 billion on their pets, a $2.7 billion increase from 2001. Pet owners today are more likely to spend more on their pets, including treatments for diseases like cancer that can cost thousands of dollars. Now one of the fastest growing industries, pet insurance is nearing $60 billion. With 3 out of every 5 Americans owning pets, this number is sure to increase.
Several UK companies are offering paid paw-ternity leave, allowing pet parents time to tend to their loved ones from a few hours to a few months. In the U.S., around 5,000 organizations have added pet insurance to their arsenal of employee benefits.
Offering pet insurance can help businesses stay competitive, and show they are thinking beyond just people. Because having pets in the office is proven to boost morale, collaboration, and reduced stress levels, more and more organizations are opening up to the idea.
One survey found that the majority of employees believe pets in the office make a company a “cool place to work” over having ping pong tables.
“Nobody’s going to leave or stay because of it. But it shows we understand that pets are just a very, very important part of the family,” says Paul Berg, Del Monte’s vice president of compensation and benefits.
Pet insurance isn’t for everyone, however. Unless your pet’s breed is prone to chronic illness, Consumer Reports says pet insurance might cost more than it saves. The key is to to plan ahead for medical care, said Dr. Thomas Carpenter, president of the American Animal Hospital Association. Additional voluntary benefits, such as pet or identity-theft insurance or even funeral service benefits are being used to soften the blow of rising human health care premiums. This type of employee listening can not only boost employee engagement, but save money for the organization and its workforce in the long run.