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Tattoos, Casual Attire, Emojis More Acceptable in Workplace

Tamara E. Holmes
Tattoos, Casual Attire, Emojis More Acceptable in Workplace

If you’ve been in the workforce for a significant period, you may have noticed your office changing. That’s the takeaway from new research that suggests that many employers are relaxing their employee behavior standards.

Global staffing firm Accountemps surveyed more than 2,800 senior managers at companies in 28 major cities to gain insight into the do’s and don’ts of office etiquette. The senior managers surveyed are at companies with 20 or more employees.

An overwhelming majority of the senior managers (91%) reported that their workplaces are less formal than they were 10 years ago. Certain workplace situations that were frowned upon in the past are deemed acceptable today, the survey found. For example:

  • 35% said visible tattoos were a no-no in the past but are acceptable today
  • 34% said casual attire was unacceptable in the past but is allowed today
  • 34% said nontraditional hair colors were once frowned upon but are now OK
  • 33% said nontraditional piercings are OK today while they were once not acceptable
  • 30% said casual language and emojis in emails are considered acceptable as they once were

Certain behaviors remain problematic

While employers are more open to employees showing their individuality, some behaviors continue to be deemed problematic, the survey found. The behaviors most cited as being unacceptable were:

  • Using foul language, which was cited by 54% of respondents
  • Bringing pets to work, cited by 51%
  • Bringing political signs or messages to work, cited by 48%

Politics in general remains a topic that is best avoided in the workplace. In fact, 44% of respondents said streaming political events was inappropriate, while 33% said talking about politics was not recommended. Where you work could play a role in your company’s policies, too. Of the cities represented in the survey, Charlotte, N.C., Denver and Pittsburgh boasted the most relaxed workplaces.

Respondents were asked why they believe companies have been changing, and they gave a number of reasons. The largest percentage (59%) said society in general has seen standards become more relaxed, and workplaces are following suit. More than half of respondents (52%) said they believe companies have loosened their standards to cater to younger workers. In Miami and Tampa, Fla., in particular, respondents were more likely to believe tech culture’s influence on workplaces is the top factor leading to the loosened standards.

If you want to advance in your company, it’s important that you know what behaviors are acceptable — and what behaviors are not. By adhering to the written and unwritten rules, you may put yourself in a better position to negotiate for a raise. If you’re planning to look for a new job in the near future, having an understanding of what’s generally acceptable in the workplace can help you to tailor your behaviors for potential employers.