Changing a Dress Code Culture – Part 1

Best Practices, Employees, Employer

“What a strange power there is in clothing” – Isaac Bashevis Singer.

 

Clothing can make or break a person. Let’s face it, sometimes we judge the character of a man by the clothes he wears.  So what is your employees’ attire saying about your company? Whether you have an existing dress code already established, need to implement one, or want to make a change, how do you choose what would be the best fit for your company? Creating and enforcing a dress code can be very easy, and yet it also can reveal some very difficult challenges.

 

Analyze Company Culture

When it comes to creating the appropriate attire for your company, you need to analyze your company as whole. Look at what your values are as a company and what type of culture are you are going for. If a laid-back culture is something you seek, go with a casual dress code. It works for plenty of startups.

However, if you are meeting with clients all day, maybe professional attire will suit best. One company in particular Andaz Hotels, felt they wanted a professional dress code due to whom they come in contact with on a daily basis. Since the company wanted the employees to wear such expensive clothing, they gave their employees a list of clothing designers they could purchase from and reimbursed them. They also stated that another reason they wanted the employees to purchase their own clothes was because they can’t dress an employee because everyone has a different body shape and size. Unfortunately, one size doesn’t fit all. If your company is currently like Andaz Hotels and you’re wanting to make a change toward professional but hesitate, don’t worry! It can be done.

 

Keeping It Casual

Many wonder if going casual will hurt in productivity and employee performance. A company called CGH, a health services company, went from a professional attire to a casual dress code. Not just business casual but the employees are allowed to wear jeans, flip flops, and ball caps. In 2013 they were ranked No. 3 in the nation for one of the best places to work. They decided to create an extremely laid back dress code because they wanted their employees to feel absolutely comfortable. If their employees feel comfortable, they will be happier and will overflow in how they relate with the customers and clients. That small gesture made a huge change company wide. The CEO of CHG, Eric Ethington said “Our focus is always on how is our culture going to be encouraging people to be their most successful.”

Casual dress code isn’t the only thing that people are changing when it comes to policy. Tattoos and piercings bans are another thing managers are looking into changing. Tattoo taboos are slowing dissipating. Tattoos are on the rise. As of 2013, 45 million americans had tattoos. Some companies won’t hire a person with tattoos while others don’t mind but ask that they be covered. With 45 million plus americans with tattoos, not hiring them will leave you to a very few candidates to choose from. Another survey said that 6 out of 10 people said that tattoos made a person unattractive. When it comes to customer-employee relations, customers will feel more drawn with whom they are like. Wide variety of employees equals a diverse pool of customers or clientele.

 

What about NO Dress Code?

This isn’t for everyone, but it IS becoming increasingly common in smaller companies or startups that aren’t necessarily consumer facing. While not having a dress code can work in these situations, it’s not always scalable with the growth of the company. Eventually, someone will come in with a smiley face crop top and daisy dukes and you’ll have to tell him his attire is unacceptable. Having NO dress code on file gives HR or management no legs on which to stand.

The beauty in this, is that there is no right or wrong answer. It simply comes down to what is best for the work your people do and whom they are coming in contact with. Feel free to choose what is best for YOUR company. Every company wants to stand out on doing something different. What are you doing different?

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