Spring has sprung, and that means dress code violations may unfortunately be in your future. Here’s some help on handling inappropriate clothing on the job.
Many firms’ dress code policies fall into two camps — very vague or way, way too specific.
Take Swiss firm UBS. The company made headlines in 2010 for its 44-page dress code policy. Among the stipulations:
- no loud socks
- no flashy jewelry, and
- ties match the bone structure of male employees’ faces.
You know that’s a bit insane.
But how far should HR and a company go in telling people how to dress? And how should a company handle a dress code issue?
Dress (code) for success
- Revise or look over your dress code policy — now. Why now? If you wait until someone violates the policy, you’ve made things personal.
Shea suggests spelling out exactly what “business casual” or “business” refer to, for both men and women.
Don’t be afraid to get specific: Things like “no visible cleavage” or “no tight pants” are OK and recommended.
The key is striking a balance — you don’t want a dossier, but you also don’t want employees having to interpret vague guidelines as they see fit.
- Single out only the offenders — or everyone. You have two options when handling dress code violations.
One, only speak to offenders. Some HR pros or managers find this situation delicate, Shea says. But HR or managers single out people all the time. A dress code violation is no different.
If that’s not your speed, then talk to everyone — and not just women. Singling out an entire gender doesn’t sound like a good or fair idea, right? Right.
- Follow policy. If you do politely remind your entire workforce of your dress code and you still have issues with one or two employees, there’s no need to keep bugging everyone about it. If you haven’t singled those select people out yet, do so at this stage in the game.
- Help when necessary. Some people actually have a difficult time deciding what is and isn’t appropriate to wear to work, and their clothing decisions aren’t made to cause a kerfuffle.
It’s not HR’s job to play Tim Gunn, but Shea says that some “individualized guidance from a tactful, discreet, and knowledgeable source may be welcomed and appreciated.”