When you start a new job, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to send in, or pose for a photograph of yourself for the website, your ID card or wall display. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll send in a posey photo of you smiling in a pub from the other week, which also happens to be your Facebook profile picture; you’ll go for a prim-and-proper appearance in-front of a white-wall, to appear professional.

But do you show your pearly whites in a big grin in this photo, or do you keep a straight face? New research found that only 27% of people bear a cheesy grin in work photos, which will be used in ID passes or uploaded to LinkedIn. The remaining 73% will go for a straight or neutral face, with perhaps raised eyebrows or a slight closed-mouth smile to appear approachable and not totally miserable, but still serious and professional.

Just under a quarter of employees asked by Unum Dental feel that cheesy grins look unprofessional, and 8% were instructed not to smile by their workplace; a big smile may be perceived as less serious about work or could look silly and improper for a business environment.

The research also found that one of the most popular reasons why workers didn’t smile was the fact of insecurity; 28% don’t like their smile or teeth. 33% of female workers say they do not like their teeth compared to 28% of males, however the survey did find that more women at 34% are likely to smile with teeth in photos than men.

Being insecure about teeth can actually affect employee confidence, and therefore productivity, with three quarters of respondents backing this thought. Further research from Unum also revealed that teeth are the first thing employers notice, and so could actually affect how employees are presented and perceived.

Despite these facts outlining the importance of dental care in the workplace, 64% of employees admit to avoiding going to the dentist due to cost or fear.

Unum Dental Managing Director Andrew Bower comments:

“…it’s surprising to see that less than a third of us smile in work photos. Whilst we can all relate to the awkward moment when you have to grin and bear it for a work photo, smiling can actually make you feel and appear happier and more confident in the workplace, so it’s really important that companies help their employees stay on top of their dental care.”

Dental insurance programmes in the workplace can bring a world of benefits and encourage happier, more confident and productive employees. With costs reduced, more employees would be encouraged to visit the dentist for a check-up or treatment, and healthier teeth mean healthier employees, with the potential for absences and sick pay to be reduced.


Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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