For many years the idea of not wearing formal business attire for work was so ridiculous as to not even be considered worth discussing. But as the status quo shifts, questions arise, and ideas about what employees should be wearing to work are asked.
It is Appropriate to Have a Uniform/ Dress Policy?
Some businesses have a strong corporate image and need employees to be dressed alike so that customers can easily spot them and ask for help. These businesses will usually have a uniform of some kind, which can be as simple as a shirt which can be worn with casual trousers or a skirt, or it can be a full uniform, from shoes to hat. This uniform policy should be clearly announced and easily findable within the business’ employee hand-book.
Other business models work in environments that mandate the use of PPE and health and safety equipment and processes. These can include not wearing anything loose or floaty, like a tie, scarf or long trailing sleeves. These policies are more often dictated by outside agencies and industry authorities – and usually cannot be changed or deviated from.
Still other businesses have an expectation of a certain look, usually requiring professional dress to retain the sense of gravitas needed for the work. Think of a lawyer or even a policeman. A constable dressed in jeans and a hoodie is highly unlikely to be listened to by the public if he or she can be mistaken for an unofficial busybody!
What are the Costings?
Employee dress falls into a number of categories: fully funded uniforms paid for by the company, and returnable to them at the end of job; uniform provided by the company but paid for by the employee; smart casual or professional dress, chosen by the employee, using a dress allowance given by the company with a clear expectation of the style and quality of clothing to be bought – again, sometimes this allowance must be paid back to the company, at other times it is a taxable benefit. Finally, there is the employee being allowed to freely wear their own clothing, with no allowance offered and varying degrees of dress code put into place.
The more the company pays towards the employees clothing, the stronger their ‘right’ to demand compliance with even a stringent dress code. On the other hand, some employees might have financial issues (supporting a large family, unexpected expenses, an unwitting accumulation of debt) that prevent them from purchasing office quality clothing without help. There are certain factors to take into account before punishing an employee for not complying.
Legalities of a Dress Code
Every business should make sure that the business dress code is fit for purpose, with any old or outdated advice removed. This includes demands that female employees wear ankle-breaking high heels, limitations on skirt lengths – which could open the company up to allegations of sexual assault should things get out of hand, that head-coverings be removed, or even that hair length must comply with arbitrary rules. There are many religions which demand that head coverings be worn (by men as well as by women), and that dress should be modest. No one wants to have to choose between their religious beliefs and paying their bills and eating! Even demands for men to wear full suits in blazing summer should be reviewed – there really is no need for any employee to be uncomfortable at work!
There Are Lines that Shouldn’t Be Crossed
However, while you must err on the side of caution when it comes to offending your employees, it is fair and reasonable to expect your employees to dress in a manner that your customers expect and will respond well to. This will mean setting limits on what is meant by casual wear, and what would be deemed too informal. For example, jeans are usually fine for work – as long as they are not ripped jeans or so overly tight that they prevent your employee from sitting comfortably. It can also mean having a discussion about how much cleavage (or any other body parts) can or should be on display. While no one should have to dress excessively modestly if they are proud of their – ahem – assets, those assets should not be at risk of a wardrobe malfunction that could embarrass the customer, even if the employee is comfortable with higher levels of nudity than might be considered ‘the norm’.
What Do Employees Prefer?
Most employees want to feel comfortable at work, without standing out from the crowd and drawing too much attention to themselves. It is perfectly possible for any employer to help their employees settle upon a mode of dress that is both comfortable and unique to their preferences while still fitting in with the company’s ethos and needs. Businesses can buy a job lot of voucher codes, getting great deals on them as a bulk buy. Giving your employees online coupons for casual clothes that suit their tastes and the business’ needs is a great way to sort out issues with employees’ attire in a way that is best for business. Most people these days are comfortable with online shopping – and for those who are not, you can perhaps let their colleagues show them how to choose their preferred garment in the right size and apply the coupon code during working hours. At least that way, you will be assured your employees will feel comfortable and look good, giving your business a welcoming and friendly air that customers will be drawn to!
Encouraging your workforce to get great deals using the coupon code you have provided for them is a good way to encourage them to shop at appropriate stores, choosing from a wide range of clothing that is all appropriate for the workplace. In this way, you will reach a comfortable compromise between pristine formality and casual comfort, and your employees will feel valued and work more productively, making it a win-win policy all round!
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