When you’re in the process of forming your own company, what kind of dress code policy you’re going to set in place is rarely one of your primary concerns. Once things are up and running, however, you start getting potential customers walking through the door at any moment. The impression your staff is creating becomes much more important. Thus, maintaining a level of professional dress in the office can build a positive reputation. As a business owner, there are aspects you’ll need to consider when implementing and enforcing an office dress code. For instance, your employees still need to be comfortable at work. In this post, you will learn how to choose the right office dress code for your business.
Consider Your Customers
As a rule, businesses and their dress codes have become less formal over the past few decades. Many companies now actively try to appear more relatable and approachable to their client base. One of the easiest ways to put walk-in customers at ease is for your staff to dress more like them. This is especially true if your customers tend to be on the young side.
Of course, there are always exceptions, and it’s important to understand what your customers expect from you. If you’re involved in financial or legal services, for example, the public is more likely to expect your staff to be dressed in formal corporate wear. They want to see your employees wear clothing that gives the impression you take your responsibilities seriously. If this sounds like your company, you can point your employees in the direction of a company such as House of Monatic for inspiration.
The vast majority of the people you hire won’t need much guidance on how to dress appropriately. Ideally, they will simply take their cue from you and their managers and supervisors. If you set the right tone at the higher levels, the message quickly trickles down to more junior employees and new hires. If you hire a SEO expert, you need them to walk in well-dressed on their first day. When every employee presents themselves in the same manner, you maintain a quality culture.
What can become confusing though is if that message seems to change all the time. If casual Fridays are starting to get a little out of hand, for example, you might need to speak up and actually address the issue. If a VIP customer is scheduled to visit and you ask everyone to dress a little smarter for the occasion, let everyone know that you don’t expect them to carry the effort on indefinitely and lead by example.
When To Implement The Policy
As mentioned above, it’s rare that you actually need to lay out a formal written office dress code policy, although there are times when this is the best course of action. If you have staff who worked mostly behind the scenes when you first started, but have since been promoted to roles where they now regularly interact face to face with clients, including a brief section on the expected dress code in their revised employment contract can be a subtle way of letting them know they’ll need to dress more smartly than they did before.
In the rare event that you have an employee who just doesn’t seem to be getting the picture and repeatedly transgresses, having a black and white policy in place that you can refer to should you have to take formal disciplinary action becomes very important. After all, many employees know how to negotiate. Do not let them win the dress code policy battle when maintaining one can improve your business.
Depending on the culture of your particular organization, a formal written dress code could be seen as a useful reference, or as a demeaning form of babysitting. Be sensitive to this when deciding whether or not to implement one. For the most part, people intuit what is expected of them, and you can demonstrate your trust in them by giving them the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to their work wardrobe.
Be Culturally Sensitive
If you are laying out an official dress code, be extra mindful of any religious or cultural beliefs that you could be coming into conflict with. The best way to avoid having someone feel like their rights are being infringed upon is to ask for feedback before you put anything in black and white. Make it clear you’re open to ideas and issues and get additional feedback from your managers or supervisors about any potential issues with the employees who work under them. There might be issues which would never have occurred to you. Such issues include clothing that makes performing a certain task more difficult. Some employees also get uncomfortably hot if they’re forced to wear a blazer all the time.
Remember to be firm but reasonable. Nip any issues in the bud quickly and in a sensitive manner. Then, you’re well on your way to an office dress code that reflects well on your brand and company culture.