6 Minute Read

Changing a Code Culture – Part 2

In part one of this series, I discussed how to choose a dress code for your company. Two things to look at after doing some research is to do what is not only best for the employees but what is best for the clients, as well. Since a simple dress code can affect performance and productivity, it is important to look deeper. Changing the dress code of your workplace can be easy once you decide what path to take. Enforcing the matter though is where it can get difficult.

It starts with the top (not THAT top)

Fact is, the employees will look at leadership to see their reaction to change. If management isn’t taking it seriously, the others beneath won’t either.

Here’s the reality: managers need to walk their talk or you face an impossible, uphill battle about enforcing a dress code, or any other policies, for that matter, once you are clear on your reasons for needing them.

To prevent an uphill battle, when you go to management and make sure everyone understands and is on board. Be sure to communicate all of the expectations.

Make it Simple

When communicating the expectations to management or even employees, for that matter, be sure that policy is simple and to the point. Having a 10-page document on a new dress code will be very overwhelming for all staff and likely cause resistance. Remind yourself that those you are working with are adults, even though it may not seem as so sometimes. Liz Ryan the CEO from The Human Workplace said,

We can treat our employees like adults, and stop writing endless policies that tell people how to do things any adult can do without help, such as picking clothes to wear to work. We can get out of the policy-writing frenzy and make room for people to bring themselves to work. HR people have far more important things to do than tell intelligent and talented people how to dress. If we trust ourselves to hire people who were already mature, creative, switched-on value creators before they ever heard of us, we’ll prosper and have fun.” 

Trust your gut and trust your employees. Just keep it simple.

The Voice

When enforcing a dress code, it is good to communicate several times so employees know what is coming. Allow them to be apart of the change and allow them time to process the changes to come. An article on hcamag.com said,

Research demonstrates that employee participation in workplace change can promote ‘buy-in’ to the change initiative and feelings that the change is ‘fair’. Participation can help employees feel more in control of the change and empowered to direct outcomes that impact them and their work whilst reducing negative change perceptions of fear, frustration and ambiguity.

Once everything is final, be sure to email the changes and have it on paper. Be sure that you have exhausted your efforts so that it is clear and understandable.

Sloppy Joe

Once the changes are set in and seem to be going well, there may be some that don’t quite understand dress or casual etiquette. We all know who I’m talking about; the guy who walks around with his gut hanging out at the bottom of his shirt, the girl who thinks she’s Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII, the guy you are convinced he hasn’t washed his clothes in the last 5 months, or the nice lady down the hall who’s gained some stress weight and her sweater dresses are looking more like just sweaters.

Knowing how to address these issues without crossing boundaries and being sensitive to their feelings will set you up for success. If any of the situations happen above, comstackmag.com suggests explaining how you enjoy their work performance, announce that you notice some violations, and allow them time to make those changes. Not everyone may have the funds to go buy a new wardrobe so it wise to be sensitive to that. Additionally, to avoid any sexual harassment lawsuit, have a woman tell another woman that she’s revealing too much. While it is not illegal to tell a woman to cover up, it will save your company an unnecessary headache if she tries to pursue the complaint.


This process may be very simple for your company or could be a little difficult. Just take these proper steps and do research on what best suits your company. Remember to communicate the upcoming change to your superiors and get them on board. Be sure the policies are simple before announcing to staff and employees, and lastly allow employees to have a voice in the changes before actually implementing them. Take the challenges as the come. If need be ask a superior for advice. How could you improve the way you make changes within your company?