In my Retail Sales Management class, we recently had debates regarding company policies in the workplace. Some of the subjects included profanity, tattoos, piercings, etc. In the end, we basically came up with one main idea; It really depends where you work, what the environment is, and who your boss is.
For example, I worked at a body shop in high school and I knew my boss well and knew all of my coworkers well. When I worked there, there weren’t any written rules about profanity or tattoos or piercings in the workplace. In the shop area, we spoke freely and loosely for the most part. We weren’t necessarily trying to swear but it wasn’t a big deal if we did. However, in the office area, we wouldn’t swear much if at all. This was because there were occasionally customers in there and it’s typically viewed as unprofessional to swear in front of a customer, especially more than once. There weren’t any rules against it, but it was seen more as an unwritten rule of working there. On the other hand, another student in our class had previously worked at a church. In her workplace, it was a completely different story when it came to the policies. There were rules against both profanity and tattoos/piercings. I can understand this completely as violating these policies in a church setting is seen as much more derogatory versus a body shop setting. Also, in the shop setting, customers rarely came into the shop, so we didn’t worry too much about swearing around them or anything regarding tattoos/piercings.
I believe how a company puts policies in place really boils down to a few things, management/owner beliefs, customer beliefs, legal obligations, and the type of business. In many companies, the owner or the upper management will put in policies based on what they think is appropriate for their business. Each company will slightly differ on how or why they implement these policies. Occasionally, a policy might not just be based on personal beliefs but rather an incident or situation occurred that made them come up with it. Rules and policies also might boil down to what the customer believes is appropriate for that business to implement. If a customer feels like the company is unprofessional for whatever reason, it could mean that customer doesn’t come back. Legal obligations are a more rare occasion, but some businesses have policies in place because there in an industry law regarding it. These aren’t usually based on tattoos or profanity but are typically related what the company does and avoiding issues relating to it. Like I said above, the main reason companies do or don’t have policies in place is due to the type of business they are. More white collar jobs will have stricter policies on profanity and tattoos/piercings than most blue collar jobs. It also depends heavily on what the industry standards/trends are. If it’s widely regarded in a certain industry that there’s a policy against tattoos, you can expect most, if not all businesses to have a similar policy.
A lot of businesses will have these policies in place from the start based on industry trends or ownership/management beliefs. Sometimes companies will implement policies or rules as a reaction to an issue. For example, if a customer complains about profanity or an employee’s tattoos, the company may then create a rule based on that in order to not have that complaint occur again. How the company enforces these policies is also either up to them or will based on industry trends or laws regarding the industry.