Ask HR: My colleague has changed so much, could it be a sign of a bigger problem?

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What you need to know:

  • Do you adjudge your colleague’s clothes as being weird relative to the office dress code or his previous style?


  • Have you engaged him about the matter to hear it from the horse’s mouth? Is this only a concern for you or has HR also raised a flag about your colleague’s new style of dress?


  • Do the colours of his dressing call your attention from a distance, perhaps adopting a luminous theme reminiscent of the sun? Is his dressing incredibly too tight or loose? 

A colleague friend of mine has suddenly changed and started wearing weird clothes to work, shaved his hair and put tattoos on his legs. He continues to perform well at his work, but I am wondering whether this is a symptom of something serious. Should I be concerned?

Several aspects change during an individual’s life, including beliefs, perspectives, and style, among others. It can be difficult to successfully fathom every change you observe in a friend or colleague. Far too many variables are at play in life; sometimes the best attempts to attribute causes to certain changes in behaviour are mere presumptuous stabs into the firmament of the unknown. With time however, if the answers are not obvious from the onset, the motivations that inform changes in behaviour such as you describe ultimately do surface.

Do you adjudge your colleague’s clothes as being weird relative to the office dress code or his previous style? Have you engaged him about the matter to hear it from the horse’s mouth? Is this only a concern for you or has HR also raised a flag about your colleague’s new style of dress? Do the colours of his dressing call your attention from a distance, perhaps adopting a luminous theme reminiscent of the sun? Is his dressing incredibly too tight or loose? Is decency in danger? There have been instances in life when individuals want to clutch onto the vestiges of their waning youth in ways that seem bizarre to witnesses.

Shaving one’s hair would appeal to many as a common practice. Has he left portions of his head unshaved altogether or commissioned unfamiliar images to be etched on his scalp by an enthusiastic barber? It is also common to find tattoos embossed on colleagues’ skin. Many workplaces have dress codes that would not permit tattoos on legs to be obviously visible; was your colleague wielding his legs about the office in shorts for everyone to see? Do the tattoos present symbols that you find inconsistent with the creed with which you otherwise associate him?

If your colleague is performing well, does not breach your office dress code, and continues to nurture reasonable relationships with his stakeholders, perhaps he should enjoy the latitude to shift gears and indulge his iconoclastic inclinations. 

HR Practitioner                                                                                                                                   [email protected]
 

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