Dress Code: How Office Wear Improves Employee’s Productivity

dress code employee's productivity

If we looked at dress code and office wear over time, we observe a drastic shift in what people were wearing to the office back in the days and how they dress today.

In the past, a nine-to-five job was synonymous with a three-piece suit and briefcase. But, now, many companies are happy to let their employees dress in business casual attire or what they feel comfortable in. As unsuspected as this could sound we might ask the question, is a simple attire affecting people’s quality work?

Swapping to Business Casual

It seems as though new workers who are coming into offices are switching up the dress codes. This age group is more protective over identity and style of dress and are opposed to being told what to wear.

What exactly is a business casual dress code? This is a style of dress that is smart but not overly professional. For a man, this might be an Oxford shirt without a tie, navy trousers and loafers. For women it could be a smart blouse with cropped, tailored trousers and flat shoes.

How seriously do people take their dress code? One study revealed that more than one in ten people aged 18-24 said that they had considered quitting their job due to a strict dress code. Older employees, however, do not share the same strong views. Only 7% of those aged 55 and over said that they would think about leaving their employment because of the dress code. Compare this to 17% of 18-24s and the divide is clear. Those working in the energy sector (32%), science and pharma sector (31%) and IT sector (29%) are most likely to leave their role due to dress code requirements, one study discovered.

It’s important for employers to consider their dress codes as it may affect their turnover rate. Employers are aware of how high staff turnover can have great cost and productivity implications. Costs incur during the recruitment process as the position is advertised and time is spent by employers interviewing and selecting candidates.

Having a dress code may deter candidates too.  61% of people looking for a new job in 2017 said that they’d have a negative perception of any company that enforced a dress code. Productivity also takes a hit, as often a current employee has to spend time training the new starter or letting them shadow their day-to-day activities. This can prevent existing workers from working to their maximum capacity.

There are other factors that may have led to a more casual office dress code. It could be a growth in creative companies. In fact, between 2010 and 2016, the creative industries sub sectors (i.e. advertising, film and TV) grew their economic contribution by 44.8%. Dress code is often less strict in these companies, as employees are encouraged to express their ‘creative flair’.

How Closing Affect your Behavior

Did you know that what you’re wearing can affect how you act in the workplace?

Take past studies as examples. Subjects were presented with a white coat and told different things. The participants that were told it was a doctor’s coat, felt more confident in accomplishing tasks compared to those that were told they were wearing a painter’s coat. Other research shows that wearing more formal clothing can make people think more broadly.

It’s important to note that everyone is different, though. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wears the same casual clothes every day and runs a company worth billions of dollars. He says that dressing in this way gives him one less decision to make and allows him to focus on more important workplace decisions.

How does productivity come into it all? The majority of UK workers said that they would feel more productive and put more effort into their appearance if there wasn’t a strict dress code. This is according to a study which shows that 78% of respondents to one survey said that they would still make an effort to dress well and wouldn’t blur the line between ‘work clothes’ and ‘non-work clothes’ if there weren’t any rules on what to wear.

What Employees Need to Know about Dress Code

It’s important to bear in mind that everyone is different and it’s worth basing dress code on a company to company business.

Think about the type of role that people are in too. First impressions still, and most likely will, always count. If employees are in a client-facing role, it’s important to look professional, approachable and effectively representing the business and should be making it look good.

A suggestion could be to carry out internal research with your workforce. Ask employees how they feel about uniforms and when they feel most productive. This could be the best indicator of whether a uniform is best for the business or not. As we’ve seen, uniforms can affect behaviour at work and it is down to the individuals as to whether they work best following, or not adhering to, a dress code.

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