If you decide to implement a dress code in your workplace, you’ll need to figure out what style—business formal, business casual or casual—is most appropriate for your company. If you’re leaning towards enforcing a formal dress code for your workplace, here are some of the pros and cons to consider.
1. Formality Projects Professionalism to Both Vendors and Clients
By requiring that your employees dress formally, your company will make an impression that tells your vendors and clients that your company is successful and serious. This can help add legitimacy to your business and provide confidence for both you and your employees during meetings or when closing deals. If your business is in the professional sector, where you will more than likely interact with other professionals (e.g. banking, finance, law, etc.), you’ll find it easier to operate if you dress in a similar style. While it may seem superficial, it’s true that people who dress in a formal manner are normally taken more seriously than those who wear jeans or t-shirts to work.
2. It Sets the Tone for Your Company Culture
Formal attire can play a substantial part in setting a professional tone for the culture of your workplace. It communicates that there is structure and method to the way business is done, and it sends the message that the company’s mission is valued above any one individual employee. Perhaps more importantly, it shows that co-workers are to be treated with a level of respect above the standards of a casual environment. In addition to taking their work more seriously, employees may begin to take themselves more seriously, which may help maintain high office morale and productivity.
3. Relative Uniformity Removes Distractions Among Peers
One of the primary reasons for dress codes is that it levels the playing field among peers in regard to offensive or abrasive personal styles, which can effectively reduce office distractions. A unified code helps reduce harassment or unwarranted confrontations that might arise from behavior born of an employee’s personal style. When people dress in a more uniform manner, it is easier for others to see past individual idiosyncrasies and treat each other as equals.
1. Formal Dress Is More Expensive
Nice suits, shirts and slacks, as well as matching accessories are more expensive than casual clothing. Once you add on the cost of maintenance (e.g. tailoring, ironing, dry cleaning, etc.), your employees will find that the cost to maintain a professional appearance can pose a significant expense. In some cases, you may need to consider the cost of your dress code when making salary offers. Make sure that the upkeep of your dress code will not cause financial hardship for any of your employees, including your entry-level ones.
2. Employees May Feel That a Formal Dress Code Is Too Oppressive
While it’s true that employees can choose not to take a job because of office policies, you might want to consider the long-term implication of having a more restrictive dress code on your existing employees. It is a generalization to state that people who dress more freely are more creative, but there is something to be said for people who choose to express themselves through their clothing or style. You may find that you want these types of thinkers in your organization, as they can help to expand your business or add a new perspective that may be missing. Consider the far-reaching effects of excluding these types of people from your workforce when establishing a formal dress code.
3. It Can Be Uncomfortable
While you may not want your employees wearing ripped jeans and flip-flops, there is something to the adage that people do their best work when they feel comfortable. While sharp suits and stockings may look professional, they can be very restrictive and can cause people to feel less like themselves when they’re at work, preventing them from focusing on tasks at hand, and forcing them to worry more about what they’re wearing or how they look or feel.
It’s quite possible that the nature of your business requires that you institute a fairly strict formal dress-code policy, and that is fine. Many people who go to school and study finance or business enter the profession expecting that a certain level of formal dress will be required. However, if you work in an industry that is more lax or with a workforce that is younger, you may want to truly consider the long-ranging effects of instituting a very strict formal dress code.