Q: Are dress codes a thing of the past in the workplace?
Aimee Russell, Aimee Provence - Owner Buderim
My approach to dress codes is comfort! If my staff are comfortable with what they are wearing, they feel good and this is reflected through better customer service. There will always be limits as to what is deemed appropriate at work, but there is a wider acknowledgement that you don’t have to wear a suit to be smart. At Aimee Provence we choose to follow a dress code that reflects professionalism and etiquette. I believe wearing the correct dress for an occasion is a matter of good manners. Dress codes in the hospitality sector usually follow strict guidelines due to hygiene and regulations, and in some cases also creates branding awareness. Ultimately I think a strict dress code at work is slowly becoming a thing of the past as the workplace becomes more relaxed and less formal.
Nicole Wykes, Nambour Christian College - Marketing and Communications Manager
Dress codes always have and will continue to have relevance in the workplace. Although a strong feeling exists that dress should be a personal matter, particularly with Gen Y, the personal interpretation of appropriate dress can lead to awkwardness in the workplace both for the employee and employer. Dress codes define expectations and reduce the need for difficult situations, which can be interpreted as discrimination or even bullying. Recent research published in the Harvard Business Review’s article, Dress For The Job You Want, supports the view that dress style and appearance contribute to the notion of executive presence (a blending of temperament, competencies, and skills), with evidence suggesting that women considered dressing the part was a vital factor in attaining success.
Sam Cook, Something for Catering - Owner/Manager
Presentation is important in any business, but I don’t think there is a general rule that needs to be followed in regards to dress codes. Working within the hospitality industry, however, there are definitely expectations from clients that all staff are presented well. This is due to both food safety and hygiene as well as the overall aesthetic that the business would like to portray. Given the versatile nature of our business and the range of clients we work with, the requirements change each week. We work with clients to ensure they get exactly what they want, from the food we serve to what the staff wear. Front of house staff attire can range from formal black tie to beach style party attire – for us it is about giving the client the experience they desire. We are a young, progressive, energetic company and like to connect with clients in an honest and open way. Dress is definitely a part of this and when meeting clients we don’t go over the top and wear suits, ties and the like. Instead we are ourselves, wearing what we feel comfortable in, which represents who we are and what we do.
Pippa Colman, Pippa Colman & Associates - Partner
I am sure if you compared dress codes in today’s workplaces to workplaces of around 20 years ago, some might say that the standards have certainly dropped. However, I think they would find it hard to say that dress codes are a thing of the past. While it may be acceptable for men to not wear a suit and tie and for women to wear pants, a level of dress code still applies in most workplaces. For OH&S reasons, dress codes are necessary in maintaining workplace safety for everyone. Certainly dress codes don’t need to be as restrictive as they were in the past. People should be allowed to wear clothes they feel comfortable in and that comply with a minimum standard. Dressing in a way that makes the employee feel cool, calm and confident is a great thing for client service and staff morale. As an employer, you want to make sure that the way your staff dress reflects in a positive manner and ensures standards are maintained. So, dress codes are still relevant in today’s workplace, even if they aren’t as strict as they once were.
Jacinta Blundell, Helloworld Travel Buderim - Owner/Manager
While the working world has changed since my first corporate position, where it was strictly a ‘no pants for ladies’ rule, I do believe you must dress appropriately for your position and your target market. I am sure a prospective client would not take a staff member seriously if they dressed in jeans and a t-shirt when wishing to purchase a high end luxury holiday, however you don’t wish to appear too conservative and out of touch either. It’s a fine line and very difficult to police with multi-generational staff members who all have their own personal style choices. We have avoided this very delicate conversation by creating our own corporate uniform, voted for by all staff members, so they feel that their personal input matters. So while dress codes have been relaxed over the years, I believe there will always be a place in certain working environments for a uniform.
Rebekah Fusca, Mask Events - Owner
No, I don’t believe dress codes in the workplace are a thing of the past, I believe that over time we have seen the evolution of what is and isn’t acceptable. For me clothes are a form of artful expression, they tell a story without words, and as we live in a world where first impressions are mainly based on visual appearance, clothes are a very important factor in business. We know that people hire Mask Events for who we are, just as much as they hire us for products. The way you present yourself to clients can help to subconsciously reassure them that you have everything under control and that you can successfully deliver the job. Mask Events have just hired several new staff members and at their induction interview they all asked what they were expected to wear as part of their job. My answer to them was that they were to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, what will show their personality, and what they believe will portray the culture of our business – which is professional with a hint of edgy.