Balancing act: I've found no-tie nirvana, and I'm loving it

Published: Monday, Nov. 7 2011 1:00 p.m. MST

Clarence Kratz, far right, grandfather of columnist Greg Kratz, center, shows his distaste for neckties at Greg's wedding in 1991. Clarence removed his tie moments after the ceremony ended and didn't put it back on for family photos.

Kratz family

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I’ve written often lately about my transition to a different job, but in all of my ramblings, I haven’t mentioned one of the best parts of the new gig.

This perk has nothing to do with money or responsibilities or exciting opportunities. It’s not about benefits or insurance or retirement plans.

Nope, it’s much more basic than that.

It’s all about my neck.

You see, at my new workplace, they don’t wear neckties.

At least, most of the male employees don’t. I’ve seen a few men wearing ties around the office, but the vast majority are tie-less.

And for me, that’s a wonderful thing.

As I’ve mentioned before in this column, I come from a long line of tie-haters. My Grandpa Kratz absolutely detested the things, and he wasn’t the type of guy who hated much. He wore a tie at my wedding — and unceremoniously removed it while the “I-Do’s” were still echoing in the air.

Writing in 2007, I cited a survey by HCD Research that sought to determine how people viewed men who don’t wear ties. When looking at pictures of men wearing ties and not wearing ties, that survey said, the men who were wearing ties were judged to be managers who were probably smarter and in a higher income bracket than the tie-less fellows.

That’s interesting, I guess. But you know what? I don’t really care!

I am reveling in my open-collar-ness.

There were times when I was still an employee of the Deseret News that I was able to dress casually, and I always tried to go without the noose around my neck on Fridays. But during the last couple of years, I was much more likely to be wearing a tie than not.

Also during the last few years, I had some church responsibilities that required me to be dressed in a suit and tie often, both on Sundays and during the week. It got so bad that my wife had to buy me several new ties, just to make sure I wasn’t wearing the same two or three over and over again.

To me, spending hard-earned cash on a necktie is the biggest waste of money imaginable.

That’s why I was thrilled when I went to the interview for my new job, wearing a suit and tie, and saw that the man who is now my supervisor was sporting an open collar.

“Could it be,” I wondered, “that I’ve finally found a no-tie nirvana?”

It appears I have.

This sounds like a small thing, but it’s a big quality-of-life issue for me. I don’t feel less managerial not wearing a tie, but I do feel more comfortable when I’m at work.

And, just maybe, that increased comfort will translate into improved productivity.

According to a more recent survey — the Reuters/Ipsos Workplace Attire Poll published in July 2010 — I’m not the only one who feels that way.

That survey found that 45 percent of respondents think someone who wears casual clothes to work is more productive than someone wearing “a more prescribed workplace or business attire.” (I know that’s not a majority, but it’s close!)

The Reuters/Ipsos survey of 12,691 adults in the U.S. and Canada also found that only 37 percent of respondents said casual workers will never make it into senior management, and just 20 percent said casual dressers in the workplace are “slackers.”

On a less positive (from my perspective) note, 66 percent of respondents said senior managers who run an organization should always be more dressed up than their employees.

I guess I don’t have to worry too much about that, since I’m squarely in middle management. However, even the senior managers at my new workplace usually don’t wear ties.

I am interested in your opinions of the great tie debate. Are you seeing more tie-less workplaces these days, and are you OK with that? Or do you think the business world has grown entirely too casual?

Please let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy my new neck freedom, secure in the knowledge that, somewhere, Grandpa Kratz is smiling.

Email your comments to kratzbalancingact@gmail.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzbalancing and on Facebook on my journalist page.

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