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How Can You Keep Employees? Let Them be Themselves

How Can You Keep Employees

When your employees are happy, your guests are, too.

Your employees’ attitudes can have drastic impacts on your guests’ experiences. More companies are responding to this by relaxing their policies on self-expression at work.

Virgin Atlantic and Disney have most recently made substantial changes in their uniforms and expression guidelines. Virgin Atlantic’s new rule is employees no longer have to cover up tattoos while wearing their uniforms.

Disney also now allows its employees to show some tattoos — plus more flexible standards on what types of hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles and costumes they can wear.

This may seem insignificant, but for guest-facing employees at airlines and theme parks, the rules for what they’re allowed to wear have always been strict. These new attitudes toward self-expression could make it easier to retain top employees, and ultimately improve your guests’ experiences.

Here’s what Virgin Atlantic’s Chief People Officer Estelle Hollingsworth said about the change:

“At Virgin Atlantic, we want everyone to be themselves and know that they belong. Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose,” she said. “That’s why, in line with our focus on inclusion and championing individuality, we’re relaxing our tattoo restrictions for all our people.”

And this is what Disney Parks chairman of Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro wrote in the blog post announcing their own change:

“Moving forward, we believe our cast, who are at the center of the magic that lives in all our experiences, can provide the best of Disney’s legendary guest service when they have more options for personal expression — creating richer, more personal and more engaging experiences with our guests.”

Disney’s guest service is the epitome of excellence. If one of the largest and most renowned companies when it comes to customer satisfaction signals that showing particular tattoos isn’t going to have a negative impact on guests, then it’s probably time to follow suit.

Like both Disney and Virgin Atlantic have acknowledged, things like hairstyles and tattoos aren’t just hairstyles and tattoos. They’re an extension of who your employees really are.

Finding employees right now is still a challenge for many companies. According to CNBC, there were over 11 million job openings in March 2022. That’s not good news for any company — but especially not those so reliant on its employees being present and enthusiastic.

If you can take steps like this to make your employees happy, then you should do it sooner than later. With record numbers of people leaving their jobs, valuing your employees with action can be what keeps them on board.

Letting your employees know they’re valued in this way is a win-win-win scenario. They win because they get to be themselves, and you win because you can attract more talent by simply being supportive of your employees.

But most importantly, your guests win because you’ve expanded your talent pool — and those employees are excited to provide quality guest service every day.