Office Productivity: The perfect dress code for your employees

What we wear to the office has changed significantly in the recent years. 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?

A transition to business casual

But this shift didn’t come easy; it’s believed that the younger generation have pioneered this movement in the office.  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.

Business casual is now recognised across the professional world — and is simply smart but not overdressed. For a man, this might be a Fitted Mens Shirts without a tie, navy trousers and loafers. For women it could be a smart blouse with cropped, tailored trousers and flat shoes.

Studies have found that more than one in ten people who fit within the age bracket of 18-24 have considered leaving their position at work due to harsh dress codes. 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.

This has left businesses wondering whether they need to remove the dress code. 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. See what the guys at Get Razor Advice thought about companies will a clean shaven policy. 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.

As well as this, it’s believed that the increase in creative companies has led to greater casualness across businesses. 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’.

The implications of how you dress

It has been found that whatever you wear to work can have a profound impact on your performance.

To gain a greater understanding of this; one experiment presented workers with a white coat and were 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 (such as a Tuxedos) can make people think more broadly.

Multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg for instance wears the same clothes every day and is founder of billion-dollar company Facebook. He says that dressing in this way gives him one less decision to make and allows him to focus on more important workplace decisions.

One study carried out by Stormline has suggested that a great deal of the workforce here in Britain would feel more productive without a dress code. 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 should your business do?

It all comes down to the mindset of the employee; whether it would be beneficial for them to dress formally or casually.

Job title and role within a company may play a big part in this 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.

To gain more insights into this area of your business, you should be asking your staff what they want. 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.

This article was provided by men’s shirt retailer, Charles Tyrwhitt.