Employees Can Dress Themselves


I hate when HR practitioners transform into the fashion police. Most HR peeps hate it, too. No one’s dream job is hatching policies outlining how many inches a skirt should leave above the knee or what to do when—oh no!—a bra strap peeks through.

Speaking of, “I had to ask one employee to wear a bra” or cover up “to keep from distracting the male employees who were complaining about her bralessness,” one CEO recently told SHRM. (Apparently, fellow female colleagues didn’t mind the extra bounce?)

Bra-gate aside, I’m currently engaged in a conversation on LinkedIn about dress codes. The thread includes an HR professional seeking help with drafting a policy. I wanted to know: “Has there been a downside to the company’s current lack of rules? Is there really a need for a policy?”

I asked especially because, as I said yesterday, businesses are sometimes too eager to pass rules when none are necessary. (Perhaps there should be a policy around crafting policies?)

The HR pro explained that this workplace already has an unofficial business-casual policy, but “the casual part occurs more than the business.” No surprise there. According to a recent OfficeTeam survey:

  • Dressing too casually accounts for 47% of all dress-code violations cited by managers,
  • Showing too much skin accounts for 32% of complaints, and
  • Having visible tattoos and piercings comes in third, at 6%.

Still, what really caught my attention was an explanation of the company owner’s philosophy: When people don’t dress for success, it’s OK to withhold raises and other financial incentives. Continue reading “Employees Can Dress Themselves”