With tattoos and piercings rising in popularity, especially amongst Millennials, is there a new workplace standard for professionalism? Gen Y tends to value individuality and self-expression, so do employers have to be more accepting of body art or should Millenials just suck it up and toe the line?
Questions like this pop up quite often in relation to workplace attire, and the answer is actually a little mixed.
While many office cultures have become more accepting of tattoos and piercings, it doesn’t mean your company has to be. And even though the younger generations have an increasing amount of visible ink, it doesn’t mean they are intentionally flouting office norms.
Our own in-house Occupational Psychologist, Stephen Race, shed some light on the issue. “Gen Y get into trouble when they don’t really know what’s expected of them,” Race explains.
“It’s one thing to go into a situation fully aware that you’re dressed inappropriately and making the decision to do that, but when [Millennials] go into a situation having no idea that they are dressed inappropriately – that’s where they get into trouble.”
Like most office issues, the key to bridging the gap in expectations is education and communication. Race likes to use the analogy of visiting a foreign dignitary in another country; “You almost have to treat it like giving them an education on different cultures; there are different norms and expectations for different types of businesses.”
Educating Gen Y on situational appropriateness is key. “Open their perspective on what’s appropriate in different situations rather than just having a black and white view which is often the case.”