If the old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” is true, then carefully considering what to wear in the workplace should be a high priority for anyone looking to advance his or her career. From the moment of the first impression at a job interview to the day-to-day schedule of any job, the way employees present themselves can affect how they advance in the workplace.
You can project an image of professionalism through the way you carry yourself, how you speak, and of course how you look. The way you dress for work and your personal grooming habits say a lot about your attitude towards the job. If you dress sloppily for work, it sends a message that you don’t really care about your appearance and how you’re perceived by your coworkers and employers. In some cases, employee dress habits can even be distracting and affect overall productivity.
Establishing and enforcing a company dress code is part of the HR department’s job, working to promote and maintain a productive and happy workforce. Here are some tips for how to establish an effective dress code and encourage employees to follow it.
Before establishing a dress code, consider what your company needs. If you work for a software development company that has a laid-back culture with mostly 20-something-year-old employees, then a casual dress code might work best. If you work for a law firm where employees have to constantly meet with clients and appear in courtrooms, then a more strict business dress code is more appropriate.
Consider a dress code that offers guidelines that managers don’t have to actually police. For instance, dress codes that prohibit skirts that are higher than three inches above the knee tend to fail because no manager is going to follow female employees around with a ruler to measure the height of their skirts. One tip is to ban specific clothing, like miniskirts, sweatpants, pajamas, athletic clothing, etc. Also, consider establishing a casual day by allowing employees to wear jeans on Fridays, for example. This will give them a little flexibility, which can go a long way.
When establishing a dress code for your company, try to get management’s support from the get-go. Consider asking some managers and maybe even some employees to come together to actually help develop the dress code, so they have a chance to provide their input and feedback. This way you’ll avoid springing a policy on them that they had nothing to do with creating.
Setting a dress code policy will ensure fairness. If it’s in the employee handbook and is part of the onboarding process, you’ll ensure that everyone understands that you expect all employees to dress professionally and have good judgment when choosing their work clothes.
Enforcing a policy that deals with something as personal as clothing can be tricky. To succeed, it’s best to be flexible, focus on what works for your company and the employees, keep it simple, and allow for managerial discretion.
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