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One in eight workers believe appearance affects their career

More than one in eight (13.1%) workers believe their appearance is holding their career back, according to a study from job website CV Library.

The research reveals that 13.7% of UK professionals have been advised by a manager that their appearance is unacceptable for the workplace. Of those that have expressed their personal style at work 17% admitted they felt uncomfortable.

Six out of 10 (59.4%) workers believed extreme piercings or tattoos slowed down career progression. But of those, 39.6% admitted to having piercings and tattoos themselves, indicating that employees are aware that their style decisions may be hindering their success at work.

The survey also found that almost half (47.5%) of UK professionals have easily visible tattoos, 31.7% of employees have piercings (excluding studs in earlobes), and 44.6% of men have so-called ‘designer’ facial hair.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, told HR magazine that while tattoos are becoming more common displaying these at work is still deemed inappropriate. “The UK has seen a massive rise in the encouragement of personal expression over the last 10 years and this has naturally increased the number of people choosing to have tattoos. In fact, one in five Brits has one,” he said.

“However, while the general attitude towards tattoos and body art has neutralised this is not the case when it comes to professional environments, and our research suggests that tattoos still remain a taboo in the workplace.”

Surprisingly 64.2% of employees believe employers should instate a strict dress code for all staff to follow, and more than a third of workers (34.5%) don’t believe their peers should be allowed to express personal style at work.

Biggins said that employers should consider whether relaxed dress codes in the office have a negative impact. “When it comes to appearances in the workplace there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution,” he said. “It is often dependent on the sector in which a business operates and whether or not they are client facing. For those that are, often a more professional dress code is favoured to ensure consistency across the brand.

“However, regardless of the industry, instigating a dress code can help clear confusions about what is and isn’t accepted in the workplace.”