Today, about half of the workplaces in America adhere to a more casual dress code. We can thank big tech companies for setting the trend.

In reality, dress codes vary so much due to workplaces’ nature and culture. For instance, the employee dress code at fast-food chains differs from law firms.

Dress codes send both employees and customers a message about how a business conducts itself. Send the wrong message and it loses respect. Furthermore, we want to show the public that employers know how to manage employees.

But how do employers specifically set dress code rules?

Read on to learn the key factors employers must consider!

Employee Dress Code Policies 101

First, we want to set the tone. Introduce the company, the nature of its work, which employees this policy applies to, and so on.

At this point, we can choose from 4 approaches: business formal, business professional, business casual, and casual.

Business formal states that employees must dress their best. This means tailored suits, ties, or tuxes for men and pantsuits, skirts, or professional dresses/blouses for women. This policy remains conservative.

Business professional follows similar procedures as above. Yet, employees can add personal touches and play around with colors/patterns within their outfits. Men can wear funkier ties, while women can wear brighter colors.

Business casual tosses the suits and ties, the pantsuits and skirts. That said, it still retains professionalism with khakis and button-downs, slacks, and blazers.

Casual sums up what most people wear in their day-to-day lives. It looks like jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, and polos. Employees should still arrive at work neat, clean, and presentable.

Some employers require formal uniforms, others might simply want engraved name badges.

Regardless of the dress code policy, all workers should look like professional employees.

Grooming and Restrictions

How we look matters just as much as what we wear to work. As such, employers should discuss any specifications within their dress code policies like:

  • Should attire be wrinkle-free?
  • Should workers have their nails trimmed or treated in a certain way?
  • Should workers have their hair done in some fashion?
  • Can workers have visible tattoos?

We must also avoid any discrimination against race, sex, gender, religion, disability, etc. We can examine our scope of power and limitations here.

Other Factors to Consider

Sometimes, employers need to grant others exceptions to the dress code. They often offer a separate policy in these cases. Managing employees means we have to build in flexibility.

Workplaces should accommodate employees with disabilities or religious restrictions.

For example, workers in a wheelchair may feel uncomfortable wearing a skirt or tighter-fitting pants. This requires a laxer substitute for a business formal or professional policy.

A Final Word on Dress Codes

All in all, an employee dress code signifies more about the workplace than the employee. It provides insight on the culture, belief systems, and nature of work.

Whatever the dress code policy, we should always remember to remain fair, clear, and consistent. While we may not face any legal consequences with a lackluster dress code, it certainly reflects our professionalism and image to the public, potential clients, and employees themselves.

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