- Visible tattoos, causal dress and unusual hair colors — once frowned upon in the workplace — are now more acceptable, according to the Dec. 18 results of an Accountemps survey. Nearly all of the 2,800 senior managers polled (91%) attributed the changes in acceptability to today’s more relaxed social norms and a work environment that caters to a younger generation of workers.
- However, the survey also found that bad language, pets in the office and political images are the biggest offenses at worksites. Nearly a third of respondents also said that nontraditional piercings and emails with casual language or emojis are now acceptable when they weren’t before. But playing music without headphones and streaming sporting events in the office remain taboo.
- "Workplace policies today are designed to attract and retain employees, and that often means they're more relaxed," Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, said in a media release. "There can also be unwritten rules of behavior or dress that are specific to a particular company or industry."
Perhaps the first sign of a more relaxed workplace is its dress code. In fact, half of the companies in an Indeed analysis had a casual dress policy, up from 32% in the past five years. And 62% said they have a casual dress day at least once a week. By many accounts, including Indeed's, Gen Zers and millennials are driving the transition.
Age appears to impact more than dress code, too. Although political signs and images are largely considered unacceptable in the workplace, employees under 35 make a distinction between displaying their political affiliation at work and expressing their political views on social media. In fact, 45% of young workers in a Clutch survey said their employer shouldn't weigh in on whether they should talk about their political views on social media while at work. Only 29% of workers said employers should regulate political talk on social media.
As workplaces become more informal and less hierarchal, HR pros have the opportunity to lead organizations in creating a space that allows employees to do their best work. Leah Machado, senior director of HR Services at Paychex, told HR Dive in an earlier interview that, in healthy organizations, HR is the connector between employer practice and workforce preference. While companies may resist this shift, HR has the opportunity to make the change toward more "casual" work a business imperative.