How to Create a Positive Work Environment in the Pet Industry
It’s about people… and their pets. Yes, making money is important, it is what keeps a business surviving financially. But the people are what keep the business running in order to survive financially. Investing first in your employees builds company loyalty, and company loyalty leads to a strong company foundation.
Creating a Company Culture
Zappos, a well-known online shoe store, is famous for their company culture. Zappos culture thrives off of intentional hiring and instilling their core values daily. No matter what position, each new hire spends four weeks in a training program dedicated to supporting live customers through phone enquiries. This creates an equal playing field amongst all employees, breaking down any kind of hierarchical system. In an interview by Forbes, Jamie Naughton, Zappos’ Chief of Staff, said, “When our developers started going through this training and were forced to use the systems and tools they created for our call center, they began noticing opportunities for improvement. So, the developers would finish their training and then go back to their usual desks and start building efficiencies in our tools to make it easier for call center employees to do their jobs”.
Zappos’ key to a positive work environment is culture, passion, and ownership. Zappos’ core values are instilled into their culture. Zappos not only verbalizes their core values but lives them out each day, constantly prioritizing them and keeping them at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Zappos hires passionate people. There is nothing better than a passionate person to work with, they light up the office and encourage innovation, so that’s who Zappos sticks to hiring. Zappos hands the reigns over to their employees a lot of the time, trusting them to use that power the help make the company better when needed. The approach especially applies in their call center. Employees need to make quick decisions, so Zappos encourages them to do what they think is best for helping a customer, even without confirming with a supervisor first.
Having a Mission Statement
Similarly to Zappos, pet businesses need to cultivate a mission statement that enriches the company and instills values. A mission statement should drive a company forward, inspire, and be on employees’ minds daily. Hanging the mission statement around the office and involving its discussion in meetings and activities can be a key way to remind employees of its value.
It’s all about people… and their pets.
A company is made by people for people. Building a “people first” culture is critical to building a positive work environment in your pet business. Building a people first community starts with the founders humbling themselves. During a job interview for a financial position, I was asked, “Are you willing to wash the dishes?”. As funny as it may sound, the company had a strong dishwashing policy. This company called upon all employees to wash dishes in the communal kitchen, whether it was the CEO or an intern. This dishwashing policy built a community ready to serve people.
Other ways of building a people first culture are through positive feedback, surprise appreciation, and team bonding. Pets can easily be incorporated into the mix by bringing your pet to work days, team bonding events at dog parks, and hiking with pets.
Generosity Towards Employees
At some point or the other, everyone has had a boss who was so tight with money that even just asking for more ink for the printer became an anxious task. Generosity promotes a sense of ease and security at work, especially during times of financial turmoil like Covid-19. By donating and promoting donations to nonprofits that follow alongside the missions of one’s company, this can help drive a company forward in their values and ease unsteady nerves during hard times.