Category Archives: dress codes

Tattoos at Work Can Be Positive?

Tattoos in the workplace — certainly not a new phenomenon. Almost a decade ago, HRE was airing the pros and cons of allowing this type 184877376-tattooof self-expression at work, and what employers could and couldn’t control, according to this story by then-Staff-Writer-now-Web-Editor Michael J. O’Brien.

The predictions then were spot on: As one expert — David Barron, a labor and employment attorney — said in that story: “Tattoos are clearly on the rise … I think there’s going to be increasing pressure from younger folks, as they move up into management [to change or relax body art regulations at work]. I’ve already seen the perception [of tattoos] change. Views have become more liberal.”

The cautions then also hold true today. Whatever dress-code restrictions you decide to assign to your employees regarding tattoos (and even piercings and any other outlying dress expressions), you’d better be applying to all employees or you could find yourself in a heap of legal trouble.

Seven years after that story ran, we featured this, proof positive that tattoos were becoming more commonplace and accepted. Here, two featured companies are actually encouraging their employees to tattoo their company logos on limbs or head locations of choice. In that piece, written a couple years ago, both companies claim that, aside from helping them literally stamp an identity and broadcast a brand, the corporate logo helps improve worker pride, loyalty, commitment and camaraderie.

Now, speed dial to this, a piece that ran on the Phys.Org site just 10 days ago, and you’ll have to agree the tattoo trend just got new wings (dare I say inked over the old?). That story — based on a study out of the University of St. Andrews — proclaims that tattoos can actually help job candidates land certain positions and can help certain employers look really cool to the types of employees they’re trying to attract.

Like bartenders — the hypothetical position researcher Dr. Andrew Timming used in his study of hiring managers, who weighed in more heavily in favor of the tattooed bartender-wanna-be than the non-tattooed one. According to Timming, they believed having a bartender with a tattoo would attract younger customers who thought body art was trendy. As he puts it:

“Visibly tattooed job applicants can present as attractive candidates in the labor market because they can help to positively convey an organization’s image or brand, particularly in firms that seek to target a younger, edgier demographic of customer. Tattoos, especially in pop-culture industries such as fashion retail, are an effective marketing and branding tool.”

So we’re not even talking negatives anymore — as in, the things you need to know and be wary of in the case of body art in the workplace. We’re talking positives.

Now mind you, this study does hail from St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, where attire in general can be very different from the United States, and where dress codes might already be more relaxed. (Why is there an image of the movie Braveheart coming to mind, pitting the well-coifed Brits against Mel Gibson’s rebellious and revolutionary William Wallace, and his cohort of skirt-clad warriors? I have no clue really. Please forgive me, I digress.)

Back to reality, Timming’s reality anyway, and I might have to agree with him that “there has been, in recent decades, what might be called a ‘tattoo renaissance’ in which body art has figured more positively in mainstream society and popular culture.”

And work.