Thinking about getting a tattoo but worried about the consequences at work? Maybe you shouldn’t worry so much: New research from Rice University and the University of Houston shows that customers don’t necessarily look down on employees with tattoos — and in some environments, ink is seen as a plus.
The study “Do employee tattoos leave a mark on customer reactions to products and organizations?” appears in a newer edition of the Journal of Organizational Behavior. It was authored by Enrica Ruggs, Associate Professor of Management at the CT Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, and Mikki Hebl, Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Chair of Psychology and Professor at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
Researchers looked at how customers viewed not only workers with tattoos, but also the companies that employ them. They compared this to the way customers viewed workers and companies in workplaces where employees didn’t have tattoos.
They found that customers in some professions, such as For example, in white-collar jobs that require artistic skills, tattooed employees and the companies they work for view them just as positively—or even more positively—than companies and employees in non-tattooed jobs. In a field experiment on purchasing behavior, employees with tattoos sold as many products as employees without tattoos.
“Although some previous research has shown that hiring managers are reluctant to hire employees with visible tattoos, in part because they fear clients will view these employees as less professional, which could hurt business, our findings suggest that in at least some industries, clients don’t mind tattooed employees that much,” Ruggs said.
Ruggs and Hebl hope the research findings will help organizations make more informed decisions when developing workplace appearance strategies.
Enrica N. Ruggs et al., Do employee tattoos leave a mark on customer responses to products and organizations?, Journal of Organizational Behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1002/job.2616
Provided by Rice University
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