A new employer survey shows that competition for good workers has led to loosened dress codes; but some lines can’t be crossed.
In a new survey, 91% of managers say that their organizations have eased various workplace behavioral and dress standards, but they also indicate that using foul language (54%), bringing pets to the office (51%), and displaying political signs or messages (48%) are still considered unacceptable. Read on to learn about some popular—and eye-opening–trends and determine how you can ensure your organizational etiquette policies work for everyone.
Among the trends that employers identify as acceptable:
- 33% of managers say that nontraditional piercings, such as nose or eyebrow rings are okay, even though these were discouraged or forbidden in the past.
- 30% say causal language or emojis in emails are acceptable.
- 34% of respondents indicate that non-traditional hair colors are not out of bounds.
However, employers say that some behaviors and forms of personal expression are unacceptable:
- Conversations about politics (33%)
- Listening to music without headphones (41%)
- Streaming political events (44%)
- Streaming sporting events (39%)
- Cursing or using strong language (54%)
- Clothing or décor with political messages (48%)
- Bringing pets to work (51%)
Managers who say their workplace has relaxed their protocols point to societal standards (59%) and a desire to attract/cater to younger professionals (52%) as the top reasons.
The move to a casual dress codes is a no-brainer for many organizations that want to attract millennial or gen Z workers. According to another survey, 50% of companies allow workers to dress casually. Even among those companies that haven’t yet fully embraced the idea of casual attire, 62% at least allow for casual clothing one day per week.
It is essential to consider the nature of your business in determining how much to loosen your dress code. At the same time, even if some don’ts seem obvious, it is important to put them in written policies. These might include:
- No shorts.
- No sunglasses (unless there is a medical/health reason).
- No t-shirts with messages, pictures, or advertisements.
- No dangling jewelry that could create a safety hazard.
- No tube tops or crop tops.
- No flip-flops.
- No torn jeans.
Remember that the goal of a dress code is to ensure that workers meet a standard of professionalism, not to prevent people from expressing their personalities in some capacity. Be careful to avoid gendered or cultural rules, such as requiring heels or makeup for women or banning cornrows. Communicate your standards in orientation/onboarding activities. Stress the reasons for various elements of your dress code such as protecting safety.