Is It Appropriate to Set an Employee Dress Code?
As a small business owner you are absolutely within the scope of appropriate when considering a dress code for your employees. Now, there are several things to consider that can guide you in your decision. You have to take into consideration the nature of your business, the reasons behind dress codes, and you must consider the expense to your company or your employees when setting up a dress code.
When looking at dress codes in any scenario you have to consider the overall goal of such a policy. Employees are often the very face of a company. If you are of the mind that uniformity projects the right kind of face for your company then a dress code might be the right way to go. If you have a internet business that rarely see customers, then you may not have the need for company uniforms. There are pros and cons to both sides of this issue.
Uniformity in Service
There are famous companies like UPS that are known for their uniforms. They are a nationally recognized outfit with universal recognition because of their uniformed employees. Now, did they do that to accomplish that goal or did it just happen as a result of a dress code that over time led to these results? Only UPS knows the answer to that question. Whatever their goal they got more than they bargained for out of the deal. Not every business is going to have this result, but, there are other advantages to be had.
When a customer walks into your business they should be able to immediately recognize the employees. In some settings, like an office, that won't be difficult and foot traffic is likely very light anyway. Customers will know that the person behind the desk is there to help. In a retail situation, it can sometimes be frustrating trying to figure out who is there to help. When you have a uniform shirt, or a dress code that distinguishes employees from customers, your customer knows who to go to. Now, if you are in an office setting a dress code can greatly lend itself to professionalism. Business suits, ties, skirts, and shined shoes project and image to your customers and to your employees that you mean business.
With dress codes that are too restrictive you can harm the individuality portrayed by your employees. In some cases this can actually harm the atmosphere in the office. For example, if you are running an Internet start up or a graphic design company where creativity is a plus, stuffing a creative person into a skirt and heels might not be conducive to free flowing ideas. You have to find a middle ground. There is ultra professional and there is casual and about five stops in between. Business casual can mean the difference between allowing khakis instead of denim. Finding the right place to land is really about the atmosphere you are trying to create, the face you must put on your business, and the results you are looking for.
Your dress code should fit your company like a glove. It should make sense. How foolish would it be to ask restaurant employees to pay for crisp white shirts in a BBQ joint? It is an expense that makes no sense. Find a middle ground that is inexpensive for the worker, beneficial to the atmosphere, and that will accomplish your goals for customer service or to increase productivity.
As a small business owner it is appropriate to set an employee dress code. Having guidelines in place for your employees is a good thing. It removes any questions and keeps things clear. That is a win/win.
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