While many companies provide benefits to full-time employees, like paid time off and medical coverage, it’s still (unfortunately) less common for companies to dedicate themselves to helping their workers achieve better work-life integration — and to allow them to bring their whole selves to work.

According to Forbes, 57 percent of candidates rank job perks as a top consideration when choosing between companies — and perks that prioritize work-life integration are the second most-valued (and often provide a fertile opportunity for creativity).

Scotland-based beer company BrewDog is the first company with locations in the U.S. to offer a full week of paid leave when its employees take home a new dog. The benefit, cheekily nicknamed “pawternity” or “mutternity” leave, is part of an effort to foster a positive work-life culture and ease the process of welcoming a new pet into the home.

It’s not easy trying to juggle work and settle a new dog into your life, and many members of our crew have four-legged friends at home,” said BrewDog’s co-founder, James Watt. “We wanted to take the stress out of the situation and let our teams take the time they need to welcome their new puppy or dog into their family.”

Not only can this job perk make life a little easier for employees (and eliminating the need for new pet owners hiding the reason for their absences/early departures from the office), research shows that it actually has positive health effects for both dogs and dog owners.

Socialization is an important part of raising a puppy; properly socialized dogs often exhibit ideal behaviors throughout their lives — including friendliness, playing well with other dogs, and improved learning capacity. Puppies that aren’t well-socialized are more likely to display undesirable traits, such as aggressiveness or fear.

Moreover, the first few weeks of a puppy’s life are critical times for instilling social behaviors — meaning that spending time with your dog when you first bring it home is an important part of developing a strong bond that lasts into adulthood.

Humans also benefit greatly from spending quality time with their pups. Research has shown that having a pet dog can increase feelings of happiness and self-worth, mitigate the negative physical and mental effects of stress, and even encourage healthy habits like socialization and exercise, while decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Having a pet dog can even positively impact the psychological development of children in a variety of ways, including enhanced empathy, self-confidence, trust, and self-esteem. No wonder dogs are called man’s best friend!

As people increasingly prioritize a healthy mix of work and personal life, companies around the globe are coming up with innovative ways to meet their employees’ needs. Similar to BrewDog, tech company BitSol Solutions offers a week of paid leave when employees bring a new pet home. Mars Petcare, which was one of the first adopters of “pawternity leave,” gives 10 hours of paid time off, and they allow proud pet owners to bring their “fur babies” to the office afterwards. Data platform provider Mparticle offers a generous two weeks of paid leave when employees adopt a rescue dog.

Implementing compassionate, employee-first practices (which can translate into a wide variety of benefits aside from just “pawternity” leave) tends to reflect well on companies, which have seen significant boosts in employee loyalty, productivity, and even positive work relationships. By turning traditional office policy on its head, these businesses stand to gain a competitive edge in employee acquisition and retention — and bring the meaning of “work-life integration” to a whole new level.

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