We’re coming to the end of Movember, that annual time when men grow mustaches for a month to raise awareness for men’s health. Some of you may even think you look sharp with your new ‘stache and decide to keep it forever. You might even grow out the rest of your facial hair, because hey, it’s winter and your face could use a blanket of fur to shield it from cold winds.
If you’re in guest relations, though, you may want to reconsider that plan. According to a new study appearing in the November issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, hotel guests found clean-shaven men more assuring than bearded men. The guests also found men and women who smile and are attractive to be more assuring.
“We know that customers prefer to interact with physically attractive employees, and meta-analyses find that employee physical attractiveness and nonverbal behaviors (such as smiling) are positively associated with employer evaluations,” the researchers wrote in “The Frontline Provider’s Appearance: A Driver of Guest Perceptions.”
The researchers said that past studies on physical appearance did not address features that elicit personality attributes, something their study would examine.
A panel of 102 participants were asked to evaluate knowledge, courtesy, trust, and confidence based on an employee photograph (pulled from Internet stock photos). The participants ascribed greater assurance ability to clean-shaven men. However, the beard effect did not change the assessment of African-American men. Just Caucasian men with beards were deemed less effective than those without.
“The practical implications of these findings are as follows: (1) Except under special circumstances, hotel firms should not permit their employees to wear beards; (2) hotel firms should incorporate genuine smiling training in their customer service training and should evaluate frontline provider smiling with programs such as mystery shopping; and (3) within appropriate legal and ethical boundaries, hotel firms should put in place, manage, and enforce grooming policies that could influence the facial attractiveness ratings of their employees,” the researchers wrote.
Granted, this study focused on hotel employees. I wonder, though, if its findings cut across a variety of industries. Do you find bearded men less assuring? Would you set a no-beard policy in your venue if you knew it would help with the guest experience?