Comment of the week: how to tell staff they’re dressed inappropriately

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Earlier in the month, we reported on potential solutions to a pet peeve of many managers: inappropriate office wear. One company had an innovative approach: Express Employment Professionals gives staff an annual clothing allowance of $600. From the firm’s perspective, it’s an acknowledgement that keeping high standards in dress can be a pricey affair.

Reader Max Underhill proposed another idea: simply set out dress standards in a formal agreement.
We have a Service Level Agreement (which can be audited by the management and staff on random basis) which covers what is acceptable from a client perspective and also from a business perspective for those not working with clients. – Max Underhill

Sounds great in theory, but what if the standards are too exorbitant for members of your staff on lower wages? Does it display a lack of empathy on the part of your organization?

Another reader suggested simplicity and clarity were key for written dress codes:
I worked in an organisation where we developed a very specific dress code - but it was not about staff wearing suits! It covered personal hygiene (breath freshness and deodorant) and specifically outlined areas of the body which needed to be adequately covered! It made discussing these "difficult" issues much simpler - and I was very grateful because with a very young work force, these discussions were not infrequent!! – Catherine Cahill

As for the final word, Leanne had some pertinent advice:
Don't wear anything to work you would normally wear to a nightclub unless it's a watch. – Leanne Faraday-Brash

HRD America forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

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