Before we know it, summer will be here. And as the weather starts to warm up, many of your employees may begin to dress down. Some may even cross the line in terms of what is appropriate for the workplace. In this month’s HR Synergy blog, we discuss why you need a summer dress code policy and offer guidelines on developing one for your workplace.
Presenting a Positive Image for Your Company
Of course, you want all of your employees to present a positive image for your company. Inappropriate workplace attire—especially that which is offensive or distracting—reflects poorly on your brand. But what you consider inappropriate may seem quite acceptable to someone else. By developing a summer dress code policy, you will set clear expectations for both employees and management, and help keep things cool as the temperatures rise.
But before you can set expectations on appropriate workplace attire, you need to decide on the formality of your workplace dress code, based on the standards of your industry. Is it formal/professional, business casual, or casual? “At many companies, this will also vary according to the amount of interaction employees have with customers,” notes HR Synergy President Michelle Gray.
Guidelines for Developing a Summer Dress Code Policy:
- Put Your Summer Dress Code Policy in Writing
Your summer dress code policy should be a formal document that is included in your employee handbook. Copies of the policy should be easily seen in heavily-trafficked areas, including hallways, meeting rooms, break rooms, and restrooms. “We encourage our clients to review the policy at the start of the summer season during staff meetings,” Gray notes. This ensures there is no confusion about the policy.
- Apply Your Summer Dress Code Equally
When writing your workplace dress code policy, be careful not to focus more on one gender than the other. “I often find that businesses tend to focus on more on female dress attire,” Gray says. To be effective, your workplace dress code policy needs to be applied equally to all employees, regardless of gender, age, or level.
- Be Specific
As noted, the purpose of your summer dress code policy is to set clear expectations for both employees and management. Thus, you should provide specific examples of what attire is not acceptable for your type of business. Here are some considerations and questions to get you started:
- Parameters for dress and skirt hemlines (e.g. no more than 2 inches above the knee)
- Pant length requirements (i.e. Are capris or shorts allowed?)
- Attire that is not permitted, such as T-shirts, tank tops, low-cut shirts, halter tops, crop tops, sweatpants, sweatshirts, athletic wear, logo wear, jeans, or leggings
- Reminders that all clothing should be ironed, clean, and free of holes and stains
- Should men’s shirts be tucked in and must they have collars?
- Are sleeveless tops allowed? Is there a minimum strap width requirement?
- What about footwear? Are sandals and flip-flops allowed?
- Is there a Friday “jean day” and are there any restrictions (e.g. rips and holes, color/fading, etc.)?
- Summertime is also a good time to restate any policies your company may have around the visibility of tattoos.
- Explain the Consequences
Your summer dress code policy needs to state the consequences for failing to comply with it. Also, any special events or circumstances that can alter the dress code should be outlined in your policy and communicated to your employees.
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