Dress code and grooming policies: How to express how to dress

Posted November 13, 2016

For employers wanting to stay up to date on how to handle dress code and grooming polices, here are a few tactful tips to consider when approaching the ambiguous topic. (Deseret Photo)

Dress and grooming policies can be challenging to create and enforce in the workplace.

Some companies have policies listing everything and are quite restrictive while others have little to no guidance, resulting in too much lenience. When it comes to dress code and grooming policies, balance and practicality are key.

The workplace is slowly transitioning from a place where every staff member is expected to sport a blazer to somewhere employees can wear the latest trends. According to a recent Mountain States Employers Council study on millennial, the ideal work environment includes being able to self-express at work. millennial are playing into the balance and practicality idea by wanting to be less rigid about professional appearance but still have an idea of what is expected.

For employers wanting to stay up to date on how to handle dress code and grooming polices, here are a few tactful tips to consider when approaching the ambiguous topic:

Consider the Culture: Employers must think of the kind of employees they wish to hire and retain. It’s important to determine what sort of consistency is desired among employees. As an employer, do you want to fall in line with the casual dress trend of today or require a more classic, professional appearance? What is the kind of culture you’re trying to create within your office?

Don’t Discriminate: It is prohibited under Utah state law to adopt gender-biased dress codes, unless an employer also offers reasonable accommodation to employees based on gender identity. Stereotypical dress standards have become a thing of the past which means employers need to remember to address workplace attire from a general standpoint and avoid stepping on any man or woman’s toes.

Define Casual Friday: Often a source of confusion, Casual Fridays need to be made clear on what is accepted as casual. Every employee may have a different view on what ‘casual’ means so it’s up to employers to decide what is and isn’t allowed on Fridays. A good question for employers to ask is “what is the difference between casual Friday and business casual the rest of the week?”

Step in When Necessary: Employers have the right to step in if an employee is seen wearing offensive or revealing clothing to work. The same applies to employees needing gentle reminders to maintain good hygiene when working in an office.The goal behind this tip is not to demean employees but to create a sense of pride in an organization.

Remember Your Role: Setting the tone for the company’s dress and grooming standards is part of an employer’s role. Employers should strive to be an example of what is deemed appropriate to wear in the workplace. Employees should be able to know what sort of dress code is expected merely by looking at how the boss is dressed.

Monica Whalen possesses over twenty years’ experience in employment law litigation and claim prevention services. She is the Utah President of Employers Council and member of its Board of Directors.


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