If you have been in management or human resources for any length of time, I am sure dress code issues have arisen. So, what do you do when an employee walks in with purple hair or perhaps a nose piercing. As any great answers goes, it depends.
Think about your business objectives. Will body art or hair color inhibit employees from meeting objectives? Next, look at your handbook. Not the handbook from 10-years ago, but a recently reviewed and updated handbook. A handbook should not just be created and then thrown in a corner to get dusty. It should be growing and changing as your company culture grows and changes. Plus, you need to keep current on law changes and wording that may no longer be compliant. It is recommended that the handbook is reviewed at least once a year, or more, if there are big changes in law or company culture and policies.
Are you an industry that does not have face to face interactions? If so, then having employees with non-natural hair color, body piercing and art, may not be such a big deal. In fact, that type of expression may be encouraged.
Are you an industry that is often face to face in professional settings with clients? Then you may want to have tighter rules on hair colors and require covering up the piercings and art work. Maybe you are in between those ranges. So how do you know which end of the spectrum to move towards? That is the million-dollar question. The first thing you should do is understand the pros and cons of tattoos, non-natural hair color, and piercing in the workplace.
The pros could be that you are a company that allows creativity and imagination. The younger generations are looking for a great company culture with flexibility and innovative environment. Your policy should address what is acceptable to display. A tattoo of a naked body, a racist symbol, or other tattoos that could be offensive would need to be addressed. There should still be professionalism and respectfulness on any graphic image in the workplace, whether it is on paper or on the body.
The cons may be that it is not accepted by other professionals and clients in your industry. It could communicate the wrong image of the company and perhaps be the cause of disrespect. It could also hurt your future hiring decisions. What if you interviewed a great candidate that had all the experience you desire, but had a nose piercing that was against company policy? You could choose not to hire the candidate and perhaps loose out on a rock star employee.
As difficult as the decision is to which end of the spectrum you lean towards, the most important part is to communication clearly the company’s stand and expectations on what you will allow and what is prohibited by your company. It is also important to maintain awareness to the outside world. What was once taboo 10-years ago in the workplace, may be the norm today. Don’t get so stuck keeping a policy that you are unable to see beyond it. Also, enforce your policy. If you allow one employee to have body art that is against the policy, then you set the precedent that it is allowed by the company. Don’t fall into the “monkey see, monkey do” trap.
Culture is important and so is clear communication. If you require any assistance on policies or handbook reviews, please reach out to us today.