As younger people enter the workforce, they bring with them the culture they grew up in. Often, that’s a culture of riotous color and more than a few body modifications. Depending on your company’s self-expression policy (like covering tattoos at work), the way these candidates look might disqualify them completely, but it is important to remember that more and more companies are broadening their self-expression policies, and could thus be snapping up the talent you turn away. Worse, your company’s self-expression policies might be causing your current talent to disengage and cause you problems down the line.
Is Covering Tattoos at Work Antiquated?
There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, but consider how public the whole of your company is. If clients are not meeting with all of your employees, do all of your employees have to have natural hair and no piercings? If only some of your staff is on camera, do all your employees have to look camera-ready all the time? If the CEO doesn’t tour the office every day, does everyone have to dress like a C-level visit is imminent?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then maybe it’s time to re-think some of your corporate self-expression policies, and whether or not your employees need to focus on tattoo cover up and corporate homogenization instead of tasks that move the company forward.
Corporate attire is another thing. If you prefer certain shirts or skirt lengths, etc. it is possible to ask your employees to still adhere to a dress code while expressing themselves. Consider it a compromise: slacks and button-downs in exchange for not having to remove nose rings and cake makeup over foot tattoos.
Tattoo Cover Up and Other Corporate Self-Expression
Research by the Harvard Business Review uncovered that self-expression helps new hires acclimate and feel at home, which in turn increases their retention rates. Research states that a company “pushing their identity on an employee” led to a less strong corporate relationship and overall lack of pride of the employee in their organization.
Employee retention is rooted in some degree of employee satisfaction. Unless you have an unlimited budget and time to invest in constantly hiring new employees, perhaps some of that time is better invested in determining if you can make your current employees happier. And it could be as cost-effective of a decision as allowing tattoos in the workplace.
Gen Z Joins the Workforce: Why Corporate Culture Is a Cultural Problem
Regardless of what your business is or does, word-of-mouth is potent, especially with a generation as plugged in as Gen Z. If they don’t feel engaged or welcomed at work––be that because of forced corporate attire or other employee management policies––they are less likely to tell their friends positive things about the company. Whether that amounts to one less newspaper subscription, or storm of negative social media posts, the end result is still disseminated dissatisfaction.
In terms of corporate longevity: you are losing future customers. Gen Z will only grow more and more prominent in the job and consumer markets, and if your corporate practices leave a bad taste in too many mouths, that could spell disaster down the line. Simply put, rethinking your corporate self-expression and policies on covering tattoos at work is good for your future.
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