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The Impact of Work Attire on Employee Behavior

By | Elaine Bennett

All across the world, we have companies dealing with different products and services, and each one is different and unique. Therefore, we have different dress codes to fit into the company culture. Some companies are so strict that they measure their employees’ hemlines, while some are very lax in their policies, allowing anything as long as it covers private parts. In general, companies and researchers can never agree on which work costume is the best or whether it has any effect on employee productivity. 

According to some research, casual attire implies casual attitudes towards business, which doesn’t always leave a good impression. On the other hand, other research states that casual-dressing employees are much more comfortable and confident at work, thus having better productivity and more humane relationships with clients. 

Typical dress code

Throughout history, if a business is meeting clients all the time, expect to see a full ensemble of suit and tie for a buttoned-up look. Typically, formal dress codes are connected to companies dealing in law, finance and healthcare. The effect on employee behavior these strict dress codes is mostly in professional behavior they might awaken. Looking all formal and dressed up makes people more likely to act professionally and be respectful and polite. 

On the other hand, there are fewer formal offices employing people who conduct more behind-the-scene jobs such as programming, production, marketing, etc. Based on jeans, leggings and shirts, these lax dress codes might become standard if we continue supporting the dress code trends right now. The trends state that most companies (62%) allow casual dress at least once a week (on Fridays) while 36% have no dress code at all. 36% is not a huge number, but when you take a look at an increase from 19% in 2014, it’s a significant trend to keep an eye on. 

According to research, casual dress is the way to go for all offices because employees are more productive when dressed in a relaxed style. 80% of people who work in offices with a strict dress code say that they see no point in them. 

The rise of the Casual Friday 

According to specialist recruitment consultants, many companies consider their employees’ appearance to be a reflection of the business and their brand. Their conventional thinking is that a formal dress code (suit and tie) makes the company look authoritative, responsible and trustworthy. Allowing people to dress how they want leaves management fearful that employees will choose much less professional looks. In some cases, the casual dress can be a risky move. 

However, flexibility in appearance allows employees to fit in better with the modern trends. Casual Friday attire of well-tailored leggings and t-shirt has various benefits like creating a more relaxed workplace, having more productive workers, boosting diversity and resulting in a happier workforce. Employees dressing up sporty or choosing an athleisure style often feel less stressed, more open to collaboration and help and get to be more physically active throughout the day. The last one seems like a benefit that can easily be neglected, but healthy employees usually have more focus and productivity and fewer sick days, which is a great way to lower insurance costs. 

Being more relaxed with the dress code also leaves the impression that employers trust their workers to make the right decision on their own, allowing them to show off their lifestyle and personality. In turn, customers and clients are more relaxed when talking to your staff and can develop a much more intimate communication. 

It depends on the job

Most experts agree that the dress code should depend on the type of industry your business is in. How often is it necessary to meet customers face-to-face? And is it necessary for them to see you as a person of authority? If the answers are “often” and “yes”, it might be better to keep the dress code strict. If your staff connects with people on a business level, but also on a more personal level, a more relaxed dress code is necessary. In most cases, customers are realistic and smart and will judge your company and your staff based on nothing more than their results. 

In a workplace that’s casual on all levels of relations—employee/management, employee/employee, employee/customer—then policing how your staff dresses can be very out of place. On the other hand, if there’s a strict dress code in place in your company, but it often causes your staff to express dissatisfaction, relaxing the attire rules might be the right move. Of course, it’s necessary to still keep up the positive perception of your business with customers, investors and partners. 

Conclusion

While the dress code in your company does affect the employees, it’s not clear how and why that happens. It’s best to keep your employees happy and comfortable as much as you can without negatively affecting the image of the company—a semi-formal or athleisure style is what fits most companies in today’s modern world.

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