The Importance of Retail Policies…Why or Why Not!

In our Retail Management class, we debated the use of policies in two different areas, swearing, and tattoos.  While the class was evidently divided, it did bring about the discussion that while it may be important in some situations, it may not be the best for all.

Retail establishments create policies for the benefit for everyone, not just a few.  While some may complain about a certain policy, in the end,  it may head off problems.  I have been employed in several businesses where a policy was in place that outlined improper language and discrimination, where another outlined swearing, drinking in public and improper behavior.  While the first situation was an office setting, the second was in a church and was policy after a situation arose.

Who decides that policies should be in place is hard to answer, as it may be a culmination of management, owner beliefs, laws, and the customers themselves.  It could also be the result of the employee requesting a policy to benefit everyone in a particular company or department.  A decision to allow employees to donate their vacation time to an employee with a sick family member was not magically in place, as it came from a suggestion and acted on.  While it may not benefit everyone, it benefits someone who needs it.

Today, most businesses have an anti-discrimination policy in place, due to issues that may have arisen in the past, public occurrences that have been in the news, or policy initiated by the management.  To be efficient, one needs to be proactive and not reactive to such matters, as some could be perceived as against the law and a threat to a business.

In one of our debates, we evaluated the merit of a policy for tattoos in the workplace.  While some students felt it was “discrimination” as not all who wear a tattoo are the motorcycle misfits, some felt that it was fine to cover up when working.  A policy in place would be for everyone, not just for a few, and would be for the benefit of the customer.  What is a good policy?  The tattoo should not be in view of the customer and either covered with makeup or with a bandaid, if not easily covered with clothing.  Penalties would involve getting a spoken reprimand, written reprimand and then possibly being fired.  It was interesting in my research that if I person who wanted the job bad enough would need to decide between the right of wearing the tattoo or having the job.  The question comes down to what is more important?  And in today’s world, the job may win.

In reviewing the pros and cons of any situation that may arise, I feel that to have a policy is the best for all concerned so that there is no question in anyone’s mind of a maybe, inflexible policy rule that may be out there.  In setting guidelines prior to a situation makes a business stronger and more welcoming to employees.  I would not want to work at a business that was lucy-goosy in how they viewed the rights of their employees and the work atmosphere overall. As parents, we set guidelines for our children and I feel that is a good practice to follow in business also.