4 Tips for Your Dress Code Policy


Thinking about implementing a dress code policy? There are lots of different opinions around dress code policies and they have received a lot of attention recently. My personal experience with dress code policies is I have rarely seen them done well and often aren't really needed with effective management. However, if you are in an industry with very specific safety needs regarding dress or grooming, or where professional appearance is very important a well done dress code policy can be effective. If you are thinking of implementing a dress code here are a few of my tips:

1. Need. As with any policy before you introduce it, assess whether you truly need one. Organizations usually implement for safety reasons or to ensure a professional image. If the concern regarding dress is only with one employee maybe try approaching that employee first (ensure the conversation is appropriate, if you need help with this give me a call). Often times a simple conversation can direct the employee to dress appropriately.

2. Fair. If you decide it's important to have a dress code policy for your business be cautious of human rights, specifically with different expectations regarding gender and religion. Dress code has been getting lots of attention in mainstream media recently, especially in the hospitality industry. When it comes to dress code, employers do have the right to set reasonable standards regarding dress, grooming, and appearance that impact the business's safety and effective conduct, however employers still have the duty to accommodate the protected grounds under Alberta Human Rights Act.

3. Simple. Use easy to understand language and make sure the expectations are reasonable. One extreme example of this is General Motors's dress code which is two words: "dress appropriately". While you may need a bit more details than that don't overcomplicate the policy as you need to ensure it is understood, meets the needs of the company, and is enforceable.

4. Compliance. Ensure that it is adhered to, if you have a specific dress code you have to follow it. If management is not enforcing the policy it sends the message that the policy is not important. Complacency will eventually lead to the policy not being enforceable.

Not sure if you should have one or need to revamp yours and want support? We can help.

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