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Companies Have Always Struggled to Engage Young People

In Thailand, the chances of struggling with issues such as employees suddenly dressing as a 70’s icon is probably pretty thin. But as a company manager who would you react to such a situation as described by this article ?

Boris Sullivan

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In Thailand, the chances of struggling with issues such as  employees suddenly dressing as a 70’s icon are probably pretty thin. But as a company manager who would you react to such a situation as described by this article 

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A capable young manager in a financial services company returns from a month’s vacation. Formerly clean cut and conservatively dressed, he’s now sporting a beard and long sideburns. He also begins appearing at work in bright-colored sport-shirts and bell-bottom trousers. He resumes working with his accustomed vigor and sincerity.

Would this matter to you?  Do you think it would matter to anyone else?

In an effort to explore executives’ views of the benefits and drawbacks of encouraging managers’ individuality, HBR presented this scenario to 3,453 readers and asked them which of four responses would most closely describe their reaction.

Two, or maybe three, of them (0.1% at any rate) thought the young man should be summarily fired. Only 18% thought “What the kid wears and how he looks is his own business.”  The rest chose one of two passive-aggressive options, as you can see.

Beards have recently come back into fashion, but it probably won’t surprise anyone that this survey dates from 1971. That Baby Boomer hippie dresser, if he stayed, is likely now a top manager contemplating the t-shirts, flip flops, and leggings that his Millennial staffers wear to work. I’ll wager he’s probably less passive-aggressive (or at least more politically correct) in his views about how individuality should be expressed in the workplace than his bosses were.

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Companies Have Always Struggled to Engage Young People

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