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Dress code policies in SMEs: should you have one?

Dress code policies in SMEs: should you have one?

A dress code policy is a set of guidelines that outline what your employees should wear to work. Dress codes set standards for your organisation and will vary depending on your industry.

With more and more businesses choosing a relaxed approach to work attire, are dress code policies really important for SMEs?  

Should you consider a dress code for your organisation?

Your dress code reflects your corporate culture, so whether or not you adopt one depends on how you want to portray your organisation.

Dress codes encourage professional behaviour, as wearing formal clothing reminds employees that they’re in a work setting and that they should behave in a way that reflects your brand.  

It is good practice to lead by example, but be aware that strict dress code policies can negatively affect your employee’s wellbeing and productivity.

Is a dress code policy the same as a uniform policy?

Some organisations require their employees to wear a uniform. This differs from a dress code policy because it ensures that everyone is dressed in the same way.

Uniforms establish your brand and strengthen unity between teams. They also help customers to identify your employees, which is particularly important in the hospitality sector.

What are the different types of dress code?

There are four different types of dress code:

  • Business formal: full matching business suits, preferably in dark colours
  • Business professional: conservative clothing in subdued, natural colours
  • Business casual: a professional yet relaxed style that still gives a business-like impression
  • Casual: comfortable, informal clothing that is appropriate for the workplace

Which type of dress code is best suited to your industry?

Your organisation’s dress code will be influenced by the type of work your employees do.

For example, if staff are client-facing, it’s important for them to wear smart, formal attire as they are representing your company.

Employees that don’t spend a lot of time in front of clients are often better suited to a more casual dress code.

Warehouse workers should wear a uniform for health and safety reasons. It’s also a fairer option as it removes the risk your employees damaging their own clothes when working on-site.

Tips for a successful dress code policy

  • Try to strike a balance: is there a way for your employees to express their personalities while also demonstrating your brand image?
  • Make sure your dress code policy is clear and easy to understand.
  • Be careful not to discriminate when creating your dress code policy.
  • Consider involving your employees if you decide to make a new dress code – ask them their opinions on the current code and discuss how they’d like to dress for work.

Wrapping up

Implementing a dress code in your workplace is an issue that should be handled with care. When it is, as well as presenting a united front and a uniform company image, it also protects your staff against health and safety risks.

When it’s not, as well as opening you up to potentially expensive tribunal cases for discrimination, it can lead to disgruntled and disengaged employees.

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