With this hectic ever changing pace; traditional thinking and ways of doing business have and will continue to be challenged. One of these demands is a flexible and more casual way of dressing in the workplace. In the past few weeks, we've seen JP Morgan and Chase and PwC scrap their dress guidelines.
So what has sparked these recent changes in dress guidelines?
- Experts claim the trends are being driven by millennials who want to work for companies that reflect their values and a relaxed dress code and work-life balance is proof of that approach.
- Big companies are scrapping their dress codes and banning weekend work in a bid to compete for high-performing millennials.
- To boost employee engagement and morale - this initiative doesn't require an investment from the business
As with most things, I think there is
a time and place for everything. Although the dress guidelines have been scrapped I'm confident there will be an unspoken expectation to still "look the part" when it counts the most. So this is not the time to let your dress standards slide. I guarantee you people do notice how you dress and will use that to form an opinion about you and your work standards.
Whether you're meeting with an important stakeholder, presenting at a high-level meeting or leading your team, these are the times to maintain a level of dress that telegraphs confidence, credibility, and trust worthiness
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when entering these situations.
- What are the expectations of the client I'm meeting with?
- Do they have certain dress guidelines in their organisation?
- Is this a first time meeting or do I have an established relationship?
- How do I want to be perceived by this person or team?
HR leader at Deloitte, Alec Bashinsky, said the firm relaxed its dress policy as clients became more casual. "More clients are dressing informally [but] business casual is not weekend casual, and if you're seeing a client you should dress for that client".
Chairman of the Australian Human Resource Institute Peter Wilson AM says "The two key principles for dress
at work now are becoming 'trust and respect for your employees' and 'think customer'. If a worker is in a role that is not customer facing, they don't need a suit, slacks, heels, scarf or a tie," he said.
So will a more relaxed dress code boost employee engagement, morale, and creativity?
I suspect time will tell.
Here's what senior executives have shared with me over the past 5+ years.
- They appreciate having the flexibility to dress down, however, it's brought a new source of heartache and confusion to their morning ritual as they prepare for work. Because of this confusion, many revert back to traditional business wear.
- 'Dressing down' requires a lot more effort than meets the eye, particularly for women given the vast array of options.
- Managers are not well equipped in handling conversations around inappropriate dressing. Please feel free to download our free 5 step guide on how to discuss image issues with staff
- CEO's and senior leaders have had to stop inviting executives to meetings with key stakeholders because of the way the executives are dressing.
There is a tremendous amount of confusion among female executives on what is considered Business Casual vs Smart Casual. Business Casual has morphed into a grey area of broad interpretation by all employees so here is some guidance on what constitutes a business casual vs a smart casual outfit.
Business Casual Outfit
Smart Casual Outfit
- Includes a three piece outfit, a jacket is a must.
- It's a merger of two types of attire: traditional business wear which represents professionalism and credibility and casual wear which allows for comfort and creativity.
- Business casual attire must still convey business first and casual second. It must still look ready for an unexpected meeting with clients and top management and should not have the look of weekend sloppiness.
- Includes a two piece outfit
- Jeans are usually included in this level of dress (check your company policy)
- As you dress down the fit of your clothing, the quality of your fabrics and your grooming will become paramount.
If you are a female
in or aspiring to a leadership role consider attending our live workshop "The Art of Self Packaging For Success". Click here for all the details.
So as you navigate this new frontier always keep in mind your leadership aspirations and how you want to be remembered by peers, clients, and colleagues.
Styling Your Success