Summer Dress Code: What Not to Wear

As the weather warms up, we all start thinking about days spent in cookouts or by the pool. Warmer weather means tank tops and shorts in our free time, and more relaxed dress at work can become tempting. One way to stay ahead of the curve is to adjust your business’ dress code to fit the season. Some businesses go as far as adopting summer hours and “super casual” Fridays. No matter how your business chooses to handle the summer season, planning ahead is essential to keeping your employees comfortable, satisfied, and productive.

A successful summer dress code begins with the creation of clear policy, outlining what is and is not appropriate for the workplace. When looking to create new policy, the best place to begin is with your employees. Ask what is seasonally appropriate in their opinion, what they are comfortable with, and what they are not comfortable seeing in the workplace. This conversation can provide a solid foundation for your new dress code that is both seasonably appropriate and meets the needs of the employees.

Allowing employee involvement in the creation of new policies encourages them to follow through with new guidelines and can additionally strengthen your business culture. Research shows that employers that offer a more relaxed dress code create a stronger, more positive business culture and empower their employees. This leads to increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and innovation. That said, there should be clear guidelines on what is not allowed. Encourage your employees to take advantage of more relaxed dress codes while maintaining a professional environment.

Some businesses opts for policies that address “client facing” dress separately from general office dress. For instance, if an employee is presenting to a client or potential client, perhaps they should wear a suit, while an employee with no client interaction that day maybe allowed to wear a more casual outfit, such as jeans.

Once you have a dress code in place, it is important to enforce it. While it can be uncomfortable, addressing violations is essential to making sure policy is followed and the workplace remains comfortable and productive. No matter the violation, the best way to approach the situation is to focus on the violation of policy. Speak to the employee privately, and let them know that they have violated the dress code and need to remedy the situation.

Before these situations ever arise, your policy should clearly reflect what the employee can expect. Whether that is being sent home to correct the dress code violation, or a level of warnings prior to being sent home, the policy should be clear and it should be followed. Following your policy on the situation ensures employees feel comfortable and not as if someone is being made to feel the exception or discriminated against.

Creating a new dress code policy can be a challenge, but employers that offer more flexibility are more likely to see loyalty, innovation, and satisfaction in their employees. No matter how you choose to implement this flexibility, speak to your employees, hear their needs and their ideas. This will ensure any policy is appropriate and fair while still meeting the needs of the business.

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