How to Effectively Enforce the Company Dress Code/Policy

There is no question that business attire has changed significantly over the years.  It seems as though people have forgotten why proper dress attire is so important in the workplace.  The major reason why proper dress attire is so important for businesses is that it presents a visual message to employees that they are professionals.  It is also important because you never know when you might be required to meet with someone outside your company, and you want to convey an image of professionalism should a meeting take place.  While dress codes and policies vary by industry, there will always be a direct correlation between appearance and professionalism. That said enforcing a dress code can be a source of confusion for many businesses.  In turn, the dress code policy often fails because it is not implemented and enforced correctly.  If you want to regain a sense of professionalism in your office by enforcing a dress code, here are a few tips for ensuring its effectiveness.

Lead By Example

It’s one thing to have a written policy, but it really brings the policy to life when employees actually see it in action.  If you want your employees to dress for success, you need to start by modeling that for them.  This starts with management.  Management can and should set an example for the rest of the employees by demonstrating what it means to dress professionally.  Think of this as a tool for teaching your staff how to dress for success.  Remind them that what they wear helps them to look and feel more professional.


Let it Reflect Your Culture

Your dress code should reflect your industry.  For example, suits and ties are not suitable for factory floors.  You want to be sure the guidelines for your dress code are authentic to your business and are reflective of your company culture.  A progressive technology company that employs mostly millennials might not succeed in enforcing business suits and ties.  However, a law firm would certainly need to enforce a formal dress code consisting of suit and tie.  Find a solution that is both appropriate for your sector and beneficial for your employees.


Be Consistent

One of the most important factors in creating an effective dress code policy is consistency.  If an employee repeatedly shows up to work dressed unprofessionally and nothing is done about it, it sends a message to the rest of the office that they don’t need to follow the dress code either.  Similarly, if management is expected to dress a certain way but the rest of the staff can get away with casual clothing, you will have a rift in your dress code policy.  Employees and management alike should both be held to the same standards, and any breach of dress code should be dealt with promptly and fairly.


Make Sure it is Clearly Defined

Dress codes need to be communicated clearly so that everyone is on the same page.  Distribute a written version of the policy and have it signed by all of the staff to ensure that everyone is clear about the expectations.  This can help you avoid potentially embarrassing situations.  Also, allow employees to send emails anonymously if they have any questions about a particular garment.  Keep employees up to date on special occasions when they need to be dressed a certain way.  You can also implement “casual days” when your employees can have a chance to wear more casual clothing to work.