Railcorp grooming blitz: Worth it?

by Stephanie Zillman20 Aug 2012

What started as a war on untucked shirts and stubbled chins has mushroomed into a broader discussion on grooming standards as against the sheer cost of the crackdown – is $10,000 a day and an army of miffed workers too high a price?

A fortnight into the crackdown on grooming at Sydney’s RailCorp, and the cracks are beginning to show. According to reports, it cost the organisation up to $10,000 a day in additional rostering over the first week of the rollout of the ‘first impression’s count’ initiative.

Is RailCorp running the risk of alienating its staff, or is this a case of HR rolling out cultural change through standards of dress? Join the discussion below.

RailCorp took on an extra 60 staff to step in for employees who were sent home for breaching the policy – breaches which included non-approved facial hair, untucked shirts, jumpers around waists and sunglasses worn on the top of the head. The Sun-Herald reported that an extra driver and a guard were employed at each of CityRail's 20 suburban and inner-city depots to stand in on cases where workers were sent home. The price of keeping the workers on stand-by includes penalty rates for early shifts – some of which begin at 2am.

RailCorp's grooming standards now require employees to check with their manager if they intend to grow facial hair, and the policy also specifies that  the “grunge look” is not acceptable, sunglasses are “not to be left resting on top of head”, “long sleeves must not be rolled up”, and hats and caps ”must not be worn at an extreme angle”.

The move is supported by the Minster for Transport, who recently commented that she can’t stand seeing shirts untucked. Following the announcement of the initiative last month, NSW transport minster Gladys Berejiklian told 2GB that the reason for the new policy was to promote cultural change. “When you turn up to work in mufti day you also have a bit more of a different attitude, don't you? We are saying to everyone in the organisation we all have to change,” Berejiklian commented.

The policy has been condemned by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.


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