Attracting and Retaining Young Employees: Is Pet Insurance Next?

Guest Author, Mallory Dunbar, Learning Specialist, Greatness Magnified

image of Millie the Pug wearing a protective cone, Mallory's cute puppy

Mallory’s Adorable Fur Baby Millie

I was recently with my friend, discussing my dog’s upcoming vet appointment (the third one in 2 weeks), and we joked, “Wouldn’t it be nice if employee benefits covered pet insurance?” We laughed at the idea’s absurdity, and now, a few days later, I’m wondering, is it really that absurd?

Turns out it’s not. A few companies out there offer pet insurance as an employee benefit – Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, and Peloton. And it makes sense. The work context has changed. There are now 5 generations of employees within the workforce, and each generation wants and needs something a little different from the next.

Have Benefits Gone to the Dogs? A Generational Perspective

Birth rates have steadily declined in Canada and the U.S. since 2009. Pet ownership, however, has steadily increased over the years, with 66% of U.S. households owning a pet. Millennials comprise the largest percentage of current pet owners (they also make up the majority of the workforce). Of these Millennial pet owners, 54% view themselves as “pet parents.”

So, if the majority of your workforce are Millennials, who are having children less frequently than previous generations, are in the lead for pet ownership, and view their pets as their kids, don’t you think pet insurance benefits would attract them more than childcare benefits? Perhaps it’s about offering an additional options.

(BTW, you may wonder who we mean when referring to the different generations in this article. We use this article as a reference. Depending on the source, it may vary slightly. Okay, back to the article…)

If you can’t wrap your head around the idea of an employer providing pet insurance to its employees, it’s understandable. Even as a dog-owning, pet parent, Gen Z myself, I admit the idea does seem a little far-fetched (no pun intended). But the point is this: If you want to stay competitive, you need to stay receptive to employee needs and wants and adapt accordingly. Even if you cannot give them all (say, you’re a not-for-profit), being aware of the shifting needs of employees is key to remain curious about what is possible.

The benefits that attracted my Gen X mom as a married mother of 2 are not the same benefits that would attract my single, dog-loving, child-free, Gen Z self. And that’s why flexible benefits plans are so important. There is no one-size-fits-all package when it comes to benefits. There is no way to please every employee (well, not on a company budget, at least). But by having a comprehensive, flexible benefits package, you can have benefit options that appeal to every employee.

Not all Benefits Are Created Equal

Here is a list of benefits and perks that I know would attract myself and my fellow Gen Z and Millennial peers:

  • Financial planning services
  • Flexible work schedule
  • image of four drawings of people representing employees and a circle of arrows that go from one employee benefit to anotherHybrid or remote work
  • Flexible spending account
  • Healthcare spending account
  • Gym memberships
  • Fitness stipends
  • Mental health services (and not the $200 for the whole year type of plan)
  • Wellness spending account
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Charitable contribution matching
  • Mentorship programs
  • Paid volunteer time
  • Job training and conferences

I know it may still seem silly to you that an employee benefits package would cover pet insurance; however, I’ll bet that 50 years ago (or even 5 years ago), the idea of hybrid work or unlimited PTO seemed pretty silly, too.

Sometimes, silly ideas are the very thing that makes you the talk of the dog park. “What, your employer caps massages at $200, and you only get two weeks’ vacation? Mine lets Rover come to work with me, pays for his meds, and I get to volunteer one afternoon a month at my local animal shelter.”

Guess who’ll be putting in their application to work somewhere else faster than you can say “flea collar”?

Workplace trends are constantly evolving. Employee needs are ever-changing. And that means you need to change too. In an employee-driven marketplace, employees control the supply, and you are on the demand side of the workforce dog fence.

Creating an Emotional Hook Through Benefits

Benefits can make you the hero ywhen the most beloved part of an employee’s life needs help. Create a positive assocaiton. Case in point: our dogs are forever injuring themselves. (What makes socks so appealing that they need to ingest the entire thing?) Our workplaces can help ease that financial burden (and for all you dog owners, you know it’s a big one). Imagine if a company’s workplace pet insurance was the reason their employee was able to afford lifesaving treatment for their dog. I’ll bet that person would feel unwavering loyalty to their company after that. I know I would.

The bottomline: Whether that’s a fur baby, human baby, or something else entirely, reflect on if your benefits are more than a list to folks. If it’s the same as every other person’s benefits (literally the same brochure), how can it truly serve as a differentiator?

If you want to attract and retain the best, get to know your people.

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are their aspirations?
  • What will keep them happy and satisfied?

If you can figure that out, you can keep them around. Why not conduct some “stay interviews if you want to dig into it? (we have a tool you can download HERE.)

image of a sign that Celebrates National Veterinary Technician Week from October 15-21P.S. While we’re on the topic of pets, can we shout out to the folks who have dedicated their careers to our fur babies? Particularly those unsung heroes – Veterinary Technicians. October 15-21 is Veterinary Technician Week, so why not drop off some human treats, write a thank you card, or post a positive Google review for your fav Vet office? It will matter more than you could know.

Looking to attract and retain the best upcoming rockstars? Here are more yummy ideas to get you started:

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