Recently a colleague of mine was contacted by a reporter for his input on how to communicate to employees about professional attire. My colleague was kind enough to redirect the reporter to contact me for my input on this delicate subject. This is clearly a vitally important aspect of workplace communication; here are my top 5 tips:
1. What you see is what you get: Before we hire someone we typically interview the person and preferably face-to-face. Use this as an opportunity to see how the candidate shows up as this is one way of making a statement. Take everything in from head to toe; do you like what you see? What impression does the person make on you? Be honest about your reactions.
2. Show and tell: With existing employees, as well as new hires, be specific with your expectations of what professional attire you expect. Rather than strictly talking about it and leaving it subject to interpretation, show actual photos of what is and isn’t acceptable. Many people retain information that is visual vs. auditory. By the way this is a perfect topic for a staff meeting!
3. Spell it out: To reinforce my prior tip, ensure that you have a well-written policy that reinforces your expectations. (Since fashion goes in and out of style, please take the time to update your policy.) Take that a step further by having all staff read and sign a copy of your dress code policy. In fact why not post the policy in public locations (e.g lunchroom, elevator, restrooms) as an additional reminder. Repetition helps!
4. Be a shining example: We all know the risk of saying one thing and conveying a different message, right? Simply put, ensure that you dress the way you expect your staff to dress. Be a role model at all times.
5. Image sells: As another way of making your communication crystal clear, help your staff to connect their attire to your company image and its impact on your clients or customers. Additionally, make the effort to offer examples of how to dress at trade shows, networking events, client meetings or any other scenario representative of how you conduct business. This is an effective way of “connecting the dots.”
While many employers dread the topic of speaking about workplace attire dos and don’ts, if you follow my top 5 tips you’ll have no need to quake in your boots!