Tatts and piercings are everywhere. Are they acceptable in the work place? It all depends.
Tatts and piercings are everywhere. Are they acceptable in the work place? It all depends. Photo: Kitty Hill
Piercings and tattoos are more common than ever and this is proving to be a challenge for some employers. Body art might be acceptable out of the workplace, but for many companies, it creates issues when the person is out meeting clients.
I personally don't know what all the fuss is about. Tattoos are now commonplace, so who cares? You don’t even look twice when the person serving you has a dragon or butterfly on their arm, or a ring or three through their eyebrow, nose, lip or tongue.  It’s never been a turn off for me, and I wouldn’t imagine it would be so for others. Indeed, there are some places where tattoos and piercings would come with the territory. Like for example a trendy bar or eating place. It makes the experience there even better.
The Pew Research Centre in the United States has found that about a third of Generation Next, the generation that grew up with mobile phones, the internet and personal computers, will have a tattoo. Some more research, again out of the US, found that 23 per cent of university students had one to three tattoos, and 51 per cent had one or more piercings (other than earlobes) and yetanother one showed that 32 per cent of Gen Xers have tattoos.
Why are we even talking about it? So many people, from Angelina Jolie to Jessica Alba to Bruce Willis have tattoos. It certainly didn’t hurt their careers.
Still, there is evidence that some members of the public are not altogether comfortable with tattoos. A recent piece in USA Todaysuggests it could be a turn off for some, but not all, in the hotel industry. The most telling part of the piece lies with the comments on the bottom of this piece, suggesting there are still people out there who are put off by tattoos and piercings. Here are just two:
  • “An employee gets paid to represent the company they work for. If a person has to have "stuff" sticking out of the skin on their face, it doesn't say much for their self-esteem, nor for the opinion of the company they work for. Not meaning to profile, but a person who has "stuff" sticking out on their face more than likely has a point to prove to the public at large, to the government, to their peers, or to people in authority, and whether we want to admit it or not, it's usually in a rebellious manner."
  • "If you want to get tattoos or piercings that is your individual choice...but with all choices come certain consequences. If you aren't mature enough to accept those consequences...such as not being hired in certain industries or not being taken seriously by others...then you shouldn't be doing anything that permanently scars you and you have to understand that you will not be accepted in every circle.”
And as some point out,  there are some tattoos you should never get if you want a real job. These include swastikas, tear drops on faces, certain words like having f on one knuckle followed by the u, the c, and the k on the other fingers and a tattoo that looks like someone has given you a love bite.
Also, much of it might come down to the kind of workplace we’re talking about. Australian management commentator James Adonis reminds us that it really depends on the working environment. 
“I'm not sure if the insertion of small pieces of metal through soft skin is responsible for the floundering of workplaces, but I get his point. In customer-facing roles, it can be off-putting for clients to deal with people who look like they had an accident with a stapler. But I can't see the big deal when someone's in an office, staring not at a customer but a windowless wall. Who cares?”
What do you think? Are tattoos or piercings an issue in the workplace? Have you ever been put off by someone serving you with stud ring in their lip? Or don’t you care? Is it really an issue these days?