Body art - aka tattoos - are not generally accepted in conventional workplaces. In fact, 85 percent of employees believe that tattoos and body piercings impede one's chances of finding a job, according to a July 2007 survey by Vault.com, an online career site.
Yet 25% of Americans have at least one tattoo (up from 1% 30 years ago). The strain to find qualified employees will continue if the perception that body art is counterproductive in the workplace.
The answer for employers is to establish policies before this becomes an issue. Set up an appearance policy in your Employee Handbook. Make a decision - does an employee with visible body art impact your business? (If an employee rarely sees clients, for example, it may not be impactful - but if an employee does see clients, you may want to have visible body art covered for them).
I once worked for a company that required body art to be covered - generally, for business reasons this is completely acceptable. Many of the younger salespeople with tattoos on their ankles wore pants or even used a bandage to cover up the art doing working hours.
The point is - the employees at this company knew the policy before they accepted the job. If you don't have a policy in place, and suddenly and employee shows up with several tattoo's, you're reacting and not being proactive. You open yourself up to potential charges of discrimination.
Managing people is largely about preventing issues before they occur - a body art/appearance policy is a perfect example.
Thanks to Des Moines Register.