Company dress codes in the past were often quite conservative, with many organizations opting for suits and ties for most male employees and dresses and blouses for most female employees. Likewise, dress codes typically required that hair and other grooming concerns be perfectly coiffed in order to present a formal image.
These days, however, dress codes vary wildly, from the rigid to the non-existent. As a result, if you’re an HR professional who is planning to implement a dress code in today’s work environment, you may feel confused and conflicted regarding standards as to what is reasonable and what is not.
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If this is the case, check out the following tips to create and put into place a dress code that reflects your company’s culture and brand:
When it comes to creating a dress code, you first need to think about what is reasonable for employees in your workplace. If most employees work on an assembly line, it would be unreasonable to require a suit and tie. In fact, requiring such attire might even create a safety hazard.
Likewise, if you’re creating a dress code for marketing account managers who routinely meet face-to-face with clients, then professional attire would be completely reasonable. In the end, you’ll need to think about the environment in which your employees work and adjust your dress code accordingly.
Consider Separate Standards
In addition, you might consider separate standards for different occasions. In fact, many companies these days allow employees to dress casually when in the office, but they require professional attire when an employee is meeting with a client. For instance, employees who work in an office or even from home are allowed to dress in jeans or shorts and t-shirts, but if a client meeting is taking place, a suit, tie, or professional dress, skirt, or pantsuit would be required. If you take this approach, remember to implement your dress code fairly in order to avoid causing issues among employees.
Dressing for Success
Studies have shown that when people dress nicer, they tend to feel better about themselves and perform better on the job. Other studies, however, have suggested that employees perform better when they can dress how they want. While this data may seem to be in conflict, it really isn’t; it all comes down to the employee and the work environment.
For example, a computer programmer will likely feel better and perform better if he or she can wear shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt to work, whereas a sales professional will likely perform better is he or she is dressed professionally. Know your employees and their work habits in order to create the most effective working environment.
When enforcing a dress code, remember to be as discreet as possible so that no employee feels publicly targeted. If a certain employee violates your company’s dress code, pull him or her in your office discreetly to make mention of the concern. At no time should you verbally chastise an employee in front of others, and if an email is sent out to all employees to address the issue, no names or specifics should ever be used.
What style of attire do you think is the perfect balance between comfort and professional?