Dress Code Blues?

by Bethany Wright on October 7, 2019

in Compliance

The Dress Code

Why can’t we wear leggings? Why can’t I color all of my hair bright pink? Why can’t we just wear jeans every day? I can’t afford to buy clothes just for work!

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, it sounds like you are suffering from the Dress Code Blues, and you aren’t alone.

Times are changing, and so are the types of clothing your employees want to wear while at work. Many companies have begun allowing more casual dress codes at their places of business, and this means employees are wanting to have the same options at work.

Companies employ people from many different backgrounds, and there will always be differing opinions on what should or shouldn’t be allowed. Depending on your company culture, determine what sort of policy best fits your particular business. Having a distinct reason for your dress code sets your business up to create an effective policy. Without a specific reason for your dress code, you may find that employees are less likely to accept what you present.

Whether you believe in a professional business atmosphere, or you have specific safety reasons for types of clothing allowed, give your employees clear guidelines on what they can and cannot wear while working. Outlining specific requirements in your policy gives employees the guidance they need to make decisions and not stress about whether or not their attire is appropriate.

If you have different rules for different types of positions, or if “Casual Fridays” are a thing at your office, ensure that employees understand what is and isn’t allowed. For example, if your sales team meets with clients regularly, you may ask them to wear professional business attire any time they’re meeting (in person or via video) clients. They may then be allowed to wear business casual on those days they are not meeting with clients. Or, maybe you have a higher standard for your “front of the house” employees, versus those who are in the “back of the house” that are not customer facing. Either way, those differences should be explained in your policy so employees are aware of what is expected.

When creating your policy, be sure to keep your policy gender neutral to prevent a discriminatory impact. If your policy unfairly impacts employees of a particular gender, it could be problematic.

Once your policy is created or updated, train your supervisory staff on the policy and what process to follow if an employee is not abiding by the policy. Your employees may not be thrilled to hear about the dress code, but if you explain your reasoning behind the rules, they are more likely to accept it.

The key is figuring out what is appropriate for your workplace culture and simply making the expectations clear.

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