As an employer, you have a lot to manage - and the image of your company is one of them. While hiring, you often see potential hires in their best interview outfits and polish, but on the job, expectations can have discrepancy between you and your employees.
Compare a financial institution to a brand new tech startup. In IT, it's perfectly normal to rock a t-shirt and jeans in the office - and not just on Casual Fridays. It can be a sign of belonging to dress like this in these spaces - it shows your focus is on what's behind your screen, and allows employees to be comfortable while spending hours solving problems with code.
For front-facing roles - like banks and customer service - looking the part is equally as important - just in a different frame. A polished blazer or tailored pant can show a customer you care about what they think of you and you're confident and capable in what you do.
First impressions can make or break the start of a business relationship, which is why your staff should look cohesive in your professional settings. We've rounded up our top tips to handle dress code violations.
To achieve a unified look across the business, a dress code that orients the staff on what they should wear to work is often set.
However, as what happens with any set of rules, there is always someone to break them. Whether it is on purpose or not, if your business relies on a dress code, there will be occasions where it will be breached.
Here are examples of how these situations may come up and how to deal with them.
Maintain some flexibility!
Although you should certainly care about the presentation of your business, it’s also necessary to respect the right to self-expression of your employee. If we take a look at dress codes that are too strict, such as in schools in the U.S., it’s easy to see that people patronized and unhappy if they have no room to show their personalities.
Try to find a balance between preserving the company’s image and allowing the staff to express themselves. They will certainly appreciate such freedom and having happy, satisfied employees is a great way to guarantee the success of your business.
Ensure rules are clear to employees
Nothing contributes to a positive work environment like good communication. Make sure you have clear guidelines and that they are properly explained to the staff.
The dress code should be explained to every new staff member that arrives and, ideally, you should take that time to remind the entire staff of the rules.
Finally, you can have signs and posters explaining the dress code on the walls of the workplace as a further measure to guarantee that the employees will remember it.
First break in dress code
Unfortunately, even following all of the preventive measures, you will still run into situations where staff violates the dress code. This is because there are too many variables that can’t be accounted for when you depend on the employees to provide the clothes for themselves.
Considering this, your business should have a policy to deal with violations.
The first thing to consider is that your employees deserve a second chance. Therefore, the first violation could earn only a warning. This way, you can let the staff know about their mistake and the importance of following the dress code, without necessarily punishing them.
Hopefully, this will encourage them to be attentive to the dress code and won’t lead to repeat violations.
Repeat breaks in dress code
However, they may break the dress code repeatedly.
In this case, you have to assess the size of the violations, as well as the reason for it when deciding what the penalty should be. Often, they might ignore details of the dress code, such as sock colour or jewellery, because they don’t take such rules seriously. In this case, you might want to ask them to remove the violating piece or to stay home for the day.
In more extreme cases of dress code violation, however, you might consider letting them go and hiring someone new. Repeated sizeable dress code breaches could mean they don’t care about the work they are doing, and in that case, it’s better to find someone new.
Have a uniform
The best way to avoid a dress code violation is to not have a dress code!
Instead of that, you can design a uniform for your business that will ensure all of your staff looks professional and on-brand.
When designing a uniform, don’t forget to get some feedback from the staff to make sure they will be satisfied with it. If they’re happy with the design, they won’t have any problem wearing it every day at work and you won’t have to worry about them breaking the dress code anymore!
Make sure to clearly explain the dress code to your staff, and to create a set of policies on how to deal with violations. But keep in mind the best way for you to avoid such issues could be designing a fun uniform for your employees!