In any organization, its Human Resources (HR) are instrumental in setting its workplace culture.
‘Culture’ is a complicated set of policies and practices required to be implemented by the HR, to harmonize its overall working environment and bring about some uniformity in how the employees think and act. Remember, as kids, how we used to hate wearing uniforms to school? But it was a dress code to eliminate inequality and represent the ethos of our schools. While uniforms are typically not prevalent in offices (barring some industries), every HR department still cooks up a policy for its dress code to ensure that the overall dressing of its employees synchronizes with its line of business and culture.
To maintain the workplace’s decorum, several companies designed some significant dress guidelines. These guidelines informed the employees how they should dress that fit well to the office atmosphere. Overall, company dress policy plays a major role in making their employees look disciplined in their outfits while respecting the company’s values and perceptions.
In this blog, we will try to explore the role of dress codes as a part of professional settings from HR's view or perspective.
The Influence of Dress Code on Workplace Culture
1. Reflecting Organizational Values
You might wonder how a piece of dressing impacts organizational values. For those who do not know, many automobile companies have uniform dress codes from the shop floor to the office. This happens when one of the organization's values is ‘unity’ and there is a need to foster relatability and therefore unity amongst employees by eliminating differences in the way people dress. It is extremely important to dress in a way that your attire earns trust in you as a knowledgeable industry leader. For instance Big 4 Accounting firms or Big 3 Strategy Consulting firms.
These types of companies usually follow the complete formal attire with blazers. Moreover, the dress code speaks volumes about the company. HR meticulously crafted the dress code policy that syncs with the company’s values, mission, and overall work culture.
2. Fostering a Sense of Belonging
Several companies and startups prefer casual dress codes to offer comfort to their employees. A company’s dress code is specially designed to create a comfortable work culture where employees feel attached to the company’s values and mission. Moreover, the dress code refines the sense of belonging among the workers. Whereas, restrictive or old-fashioned dress codes can frustrate employees and decrease productivity.
3. Encouraging Professionalism
Dressing right portrays a very professional image of the organization. An organization that is largely customer facing will want their clients and customers to feel confident about the organization and its employees and their business dealings as such. Dress codes infuse a sense of professionalism in employees and implicitly lead to a professional attitude and behavior, which contributes positively to the workplace culture.
4. Balancing Individual Expression
To maintain a positive and disciplined work environment, the company has made some dress code guidelines for the employees. But on the other side, you can’t deny the fact that every employee or person has thier unique taste in style and fashion. That’s why while crafting the dress code guidelines, the organization also takes care about balancing the individual style. HR plays a great role in designing dress codes that allow the workers to express their unique style and personality while regulating office-appropriate looks.
5. Supporting Employee Well-Being
The comfort and physical well-being of employees are a high priority for all organizations. While finalizing the dress code guidelines, HR must focus on the comfort of the employees, especially in firms whose workers perform tasks that demand physical energy and movement for example labourers in factories, etc for their well-being and productivity.
Impact on Employee Morale and Productivity
1. Boosting Employee Morale
A dress code that offers comfort to the employees and promotes individual style plays a major role in motivating the employees and positively influences their morale.
When there are no strict boundaries on the employee for their choices and comfortably follow the dress code that reflects professionalism, they feel more confident and motivated, leading to incredible morale.
2. Reducing Stress and Distractions
Complicated and strict dress codes can lead to irritation or distraction among the employees. A right amount of freedom of choice is one of the crucial things to maintain a calm atmosphere in the office. When workers feel confused in selecting attire that doesn’t only harm the office decorum and dress code, but also it can give them unnecessary stress and negatively impact their productivity. HR should carefully look after the dress code guidelines to avoid these issues.
3. Promoting Productivity
There is also a correlation between employee productivity and dress codes. When employees are comfortable and dressed appropriately for their roles, they can focus more on their tasks and responsibilities. They stop worrying about being compliant or fitting in and can focus on their work without anything else bogging them down.
4. Supporting Remote Work Culture
Remote work has become a reality. While companies are calling back employees, there is resistance as employees have experienced higher productivity working from home. The concept of dress code has evolved now to extend for such remote working situations as well. HR can guide employees on appropriate attire for virtual meetings and remote workdays, ensuring that even in virtual settings, professionalism is maintained.
Fostering Diversity and Inclusion
1. Recognizing Cultural Differences
Don’t we all like to dress at times to our own personal culture at times. Different religions or sects could have certain norms to dressing that every HR should be cognizant of while drawing up a company’s dress code. Allowing such cultural variations and being sensitive to cultural differences among employees makes employees feel respected. These might include certain types of office kurtis, head coverings, flexible footwear or alike. HR must acknowledge that what is considered appropriate work attire can vary across different cultures and regions. A one-size-fits-all approach to dress code can alienate employees from diverse backgrounds.
2. Eliminating Gender Bias
HR also plays a role in addressing gender bias in dress code policies. Women’s dress codes have historically been modelled on men’s dress codes. However, old-fashioned or gender-specific dress codes can create stereotypes and inequality. The dress code should be free from gender bias and allow every employee to dress that reflects their own gender identity, leading to a positive work environment.
3. Promoting Acceptance
Dress code impacts the overall personality of the employee and workplace. It helps to make them feel accepted, valued, and respected in professional settings. When employees realize that their unique individuality is accepted and valued, the passion and dedication towards their company automatically rise in their hearts.
Creating Balanced and Inclusive Dress Code Guidelines
1. Employee participation matters a lot
Dress code guidelines can be made by democratic criteria by HR departments. The participation, reviews, opinions, concerns, and suggestions of the employees can help to create an ideal dress code policy that is acceptable and easily adaptable.
2. Offer a Clear and Practical Guide
As we have already discussed above, the dress code should be clear and easy to understand for all the employees. HR can also provide visual examples to offer a clear guide to workers, eliminating confusion.
3. Taking Care of Flexibility
HR must consider allowing variations in dress code based on different roles, responsibilities, and departments in the workplace. The dress code for the employee as a receptionist is different from the employee managing the desk tasks.
4. Conduct Periodic Reviews
The same dress code should not run for a longer period. It should be updated with times and other regular process. HR should conduct periodic reviews on what dress code probably every 6 months to a year, to ensure that the guidelines remain relevant and coordinate with the company’s core values.
The blog aims to inform about the Role of Dress Code Policies in Workplace Culture. We have discussed the role of HR in creating a dress code that aligns with employees' styles and comfort. On the other hand, we also explore how HR can create a dress code that should promote the organization’s values, and mission and regulate a productive and positive work environment.
Frequenlty Asked Questions
1. How dress code can affect the work environment?
Dress codes hold a major importance in maintaining the work culture in the organization. A strict and classic formal dress code will represent the traditional and disciplined work culture whereas the relaxed dress code can create a refreshed and cheering work environment.
2. What is the significance of dress code at the workplace?
The dress code has a huge significance at the company. They have meticulously crafted rules that have to be followed by every employee that they can wear whatever suits their comfort but not violate the company’s values, objectives, professionalism, and decorum.
3. How HR can offer clear guidance to the employee regarding the dress code?
The dress code should be clear and easy to understand for all the employees. HR can provide visual examples to offer a clear guide to workers to remove the confusion.