Every business has some employees who dress like every day is casual Friday, even if it is actually the day of an important presentation. Perhaps some employees feel like business suits stifle creativity. Perhaps some employees who are recent college graduates were never taught how to dress professionally. Whatever the reason for unprofessional attire, it is important for you to emphasize the importance of professionalism in the workplace among your employees. Here are five tips to help get the ball rolling.
Dressing for Better Professionalism in the Workplace
1. Set the Standard.
If you want your employees to dress in a certain way, then the first step is to create a dress code that specifically encourages certain types of clothing and discourages others. It is probably not okay for your employees to come to work clad in flip-flops, even in the waning days of summer. But would you permit some employees to wear more comfortable shoes as long as they were black or brown and closed-toed? Decide on organizational dress code priorities that are compatible with other companies in your industry, and survey other managers to determine common problem areas within your organization. Be certain that your dress code expectations are professional but also practical and affordable to all employees.
Research by the Society of Human Resources Management suggests that one of the most important ways to ensure employee happiness is to allow flexibility, so be certain that your dress code is flexible enough to allow employees to express their own personal style.
2. Educate Employees.
When your new dress code is in place, be certain to educate all existing employees about your new expectations for professionalism in the workplace. Allow employees to ask questions about the new policies, and give a grace period before the dress code officially begins. This way, your employees will have time to adjust their wardrobe and shop for new clothing if needed.
3. Sponsor Professional Dressing Seminars.
Sponsor a few different seminars on professionalism in the workplace, specifically in regards to attire, during the work day. Allow and encourage employees to step away from their desks for an hour or two to learn about putting together business-appropriate outfits. Make the seminars enticing for employees by asking for presentations by popular local retailers and perhaps even offering discounts or other incentives. And don’t forget refreshments! Be certain that some of the seminars are geared towards the basics of professional dress, while others might focus on how to creatively accessorize an outfit or how to dress professionally on a budget.
4. Encourage Personal Accountability.
Don’t come down harshly on employees who don’t follow the dress code to the letter, but instead openly praise those employees who follow the dress code well or those who are able to dress in a way that is both creative and professional. If you have any employees who are perpetually problematic in the realm of appearance, you may wish to bring up their departure from the official dress code in their performance review. Try to get to the root of the problem, and encourage the employee’s personal accountability in solving the problem.
5. Allow Casual Dress – Sometimes.
Be certain that there are acceptable times for loosening the dress code, such as an established policy of casual Fridays, or some similar incentive. Simply avoid scheduling important meetings or presentations on days when employees are allowed to kick back a bit and express their more casual side. Occasional freedom like this will make your employees more likely to willingly comply with the company dress code at other times.
How do you encourage dressing professionally in your organization?
Photo Credit JoseMa Orsini