Swedish employers want good-looking staff: study

Swedish employers look for staff who are good-looking and not overweight, according to a new survey.

Six out of 10 Swedish employers desire “attractive” staff, according to a new study conducted by researcher Henrietta Huzell of Karlstad University in western Sweden, newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported on Monday.

In addition, seven out of 10 would rather not have overweight employees, the survey of 1,000 companies in Sweden, particularly those in the hotel and restaurant industries, found.

The study also found that 90 percent of employers said they want employees in good physical condition. However, appearance was also important, especially in the retail sector where nearly eight in 10 stated that it was significant, the report said.

Huzell, who has a PhD in work science, was surprised that the demands on staff appearance was so important. She believes that the findings may be due in part to the fact that appearance is perceived as a sign of health, the report said.

The recent study follows on previous research by Huzell from 2008 when she conducted a study that revealed that while having good-looking employees did not result in higher turnover, employers still cared a lot about the appearance of their workers, particularly in the hospitality industry.

“An increasing number of people are well educated and appearance and aesthetic skills have becomes more important,” Huzell said at the time.

However, the most important issue for businesses was not that the staff good-looking, but that they are sound and healthy, which has nothing with ideals regarding appearances.

“The requirement showed up in all sectors and is related to the employer being afraid of the costs associated with sick leave,” Huzell told news agency TT in 2008.

The responses for her previous study came from a total of about a thousand companies in the hotel and restaurant, retail and finance and insurance industries. It also showed that refined language among employees was more important to employers than outer beauty.

However, firms with high aesthetic demands on their employees are not more profitable than other companies, according to Sveriges Radio Värmland.

A separate study about ideal appearances based on questionnaires from a couple hundred companies in the country was compared to profitability figures from a business database.

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