Lately, there has been a change in what employees wear in the office. At one time, 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. Is it affecting productivity, though? Black suits retailer, CT Shirts, tell us more:

A change in dress code

Could it be the influence of younger workers that has resulted in a shift towards business casual dress? It seems as though this age group is more protective over identity and style of dress and are opposed to being told what to wear.

How can business casual be defined? It’s a dress code that is smart but not too formal. For example, for a man, this might be a shirt without a tie, navy trousers and loafers. For women it could be a smart blouse with cropped, tailored trousers and flat shoes.

Research discovered that more than one in ten people aged 18-24 had considered quitting their job because of 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 it’s clear to see a divide. It might depend on which sector you operate in as to how your staff feel about uniform. 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.

Should company bosses be scrapping their dress codes to keep their staff? Quite possibly. 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.

What’s another reason for more people dressing business casual? 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’.

What you wear and your behaviour

Studies have proven that what you wear can have an impact on how you behave at work. In one study, 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.

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg takes a different approach though. He 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.

And, what about productivity? 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 by Stormline. Moreover, 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 is beneficial for the company?

Looking at the research we’ve seen, it’s clear to see that it depends on the employee as to whether they should follow dress code.  It may depend on their role, too. First impressions still, and most likely will, always count. If employees are in a client-facing role, it’s important to look professional and approachable — they are effectively representing the business and should be making it look good.

One thing business could do is speak to their employees about the topic. Ask their 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.

Sources

https://www.duedil.com/blog/power-dressingthe-effects-of-dress-code-on-productivity

http://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2017/october/dressed-to-impress-is-it-time-for-managers-to-embrace-off-the-cuff-employee-fashion-at-work

https://www.recruitment-international.co.uk/blog/2017/01/61-percent-of-employees-more-productive-when-dress-code-is-relaxed-study-finds

http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/uk-creative-overview/news-and-views/news-creative-industries-earn-uk-almost-%C2%A392bn

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