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Managing employees is a minefield of balancing authority with understanding, rules with guidelines and one of the most tricky areas for many bosses is the issue of what your employees wear to work. The easiest way to make your employees aware of your expectations is to draft a dress code which is distributed to all existing employees and made clear to all prospective employees. Many employers avoid this handy tool for office harmony because it seems a daunting document to draft. By working through these questions, you’ll have it done in no time, though:

1. How formal is your workplace?

This is the most fundamental element to confirm in your mind. If you want your office to be very serious and smart, keeping your dress code quite strict would be the way to go. If it’s a bit more laid-back, that can be reflected in your rule for dress.

2. Do you want to implement a corporate uniform?

If you want a very formal dress code, this is also advisable. It allows you a lot more control over what your employees wear but some may resent the inability to express their personality through their dress. There are many documented advantages of having a uniform, including a sense of belonging, the opportunity to advertise through incorporating branding and ensuring that garments are of good quality.

3. What will you rule in terms of how short, strappy or tight?

One of the most frequent complaints by fellow employees in the workplace is that a co-worker looks unprofessional because they are wearing something that’s too tight, too revealing or too short. Make these expectations clear in your dress code. No skirts above the knee, for example, or no spaghetti straps or visible underwear are all good catch-all phrases.

4. What about tattoos?

If your business leans to the creative, you may not be worried about visible tattoos or excessive piercings but if it’s a more conservative company, you may want to prohibit this. Do keep in mind that in the 21st century, you may find yourself having to turn down an excellent prospective employee who has a tattooed wrist so it may be worth wording this to suggest that you will assess the situation on a case-by-case basis.

5. Are you happy with tons of make-up?

Again, this one depends on your company culture, but some businesses do prefer women to tone down their makeup for work. It is worth considering and making a note of in the dress code if you do have a preference, though.

6. What footwear is appropriate?

Most people deem slip slops to be unprofessional and it’s worth noting in your dress code if you want to prohibit them, along with any other shoes you don’t want to allow. Many companies say no to running shoes, sneakers and heels over a certain height.


Once you have been though all these questions, and clarified what you want to allow, and not, work through from head to toe, making your expectations very clear. Get someone to read over it and ensure that it is easy to interpret and leaves no room for misunderstanding.



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