The easiest way to shake up an HR convention is to announce that dress codes have no impact in the business world. The workplace dress code has been a hotly debated topic for many companies over the years. A great saying is that “the way you dress affects the way you feel and the way you feel affects the way you act”. Any good company wants their employees working at their best. Dress code is very important in contributing to corporate culture and expressing the daily values that the company stands for. Now that we’ve ended the debate of importance, it’s time to tackle the real one; which dress code is more conducive to a productive workplace?
The decline of business professional attire started more recently than you would think. The business casual trend emerged in the early 90s, when many Silicon Valley workers refused to wear a suit and tie to work every day. Companies wanted to stay competitive, which started with casual Fridays and lead some companies to an all business casual environment. Many companies feel it improves their employee morale and helps to eliminate status barriers, while some companies still feel that it enhances productivity. Like any good debate, the final answer boils down to a matter of opinion.
Now, let’s try a quick visualization exercise; when you see a man in a business suit and tie, what is your first immediate thought? Do you think power? What about determination? I can guarantee your first thought isn’t “lazy” or “someone who cuts corners”. Anyone who has donned a suit and tie can tell you that you don’t roll out of bed an hour late; grab your suit from the dirty hamper and still slide into work just in time. A suit requires time, care and a close attention to detail. A suit projects the image that you are ready to work, ready to take on the day. You mean business.
There are quite a few reasons why a company would want to keep a strict dress code. Some include:
First Impressions – I know the immediate rebuttal to this will be, “I don’t interact with customers.” But what about other employees? Imagine a new employee walks into the office for the first day, excited about the new opportunities and corporate environment. Will this eager go-getter still think they found the perfect job or will the laid-back environment set a tone of underachievement?
Pride – What you wear to an interview such as a suit and tie, was that a one-time deal? Dressing professionally gains you respect on an on-going basis. It shows that you take pride in what you wear and the image you exude. Most people translate that into having pride in the work you do.
Division of Personal and Professional Life – You’ve planned and prepared and are walking into the office mentally devoted, your full attention to the job, tackling the biggest problems and making the most of the day.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Dress for the job you want not the job you have”. Dressing professionally shows you’re serious about your career path and you’re striving for great accomplishments.