Ask the HR Lady: Are Tatoos Taboo?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2011 in Advice, Managing Employees | 0 comments

HR Lady:  We own a restaurant and have a strict “no tattoo” policy.  We feel that tattoos might offend some of our guests.   There’s a worker I really want to hire, but she has a tattoo.  Can I make an exception?  ~Tom, Missouri

Dear Tom:  Tattoo policies are like any other policy.  You have to decide what kind of an organization you want to be and then that will answer your question.  The best example of how to treat policies is DaVita, Inc.  They are the largest independently owned kidney care company in the United States.  Their philosophy about their handbook and policies are that it’s a guideline, not a rule.  When you put it in that perspective, it sure does make it easier to have the flexibility you need to run your business.  What it requires, though, it strong leaders who are willing and capable of having uncomfortable discussions with employees. Weak managers say “You can’t do it because there’s a policy that says you can’t.”  This type of talk removes
the ownership and power from the leader and gives it to the handbook.  Real power lies within people and the ability to connect effectively with others.  If you use a guideline approach instead of an inflexible policy approach, expect and train your leaders to have meaningful performance discussions.  For example, “The tattoo on your arm doesn’t match up with our brand and how we want our customers to think of us, so we need you to wear long sleeves at work.”  We wish you all the best!   ~ HR Lady

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