Now that we have your attention, I’m going to say that the title probably isn’t technically the best advice. But how fun would it be if employees randomly showed up dressed like a superhero…especially if it was nowhere near Halloween!
Depending on your business…and the superhero costume, for that matter…it could be highly inappropriate, though. If you have employees, you’ve probably already seen questionable dress at times. How do you insist that your employees properly visually represent your company and have steps to take in place if they don’t.
Stop Me…Because You’ve Heard This Before
I’m going back to a common theme…if you’ve read any of my recent blog posts, you’ve heard it…Create an Employee Manual!
Honestly, if you have employees at all and haven’t created an employee manual, you are doing yourself a disservice. Put into detailed documentation what’s expected of your employees, in addition to rewards and punishments if expectations are not met.
In this case, you should have your company dress code in writing, in as much detail as you can muster. If different parts of the company require different dress codes (warehouse versus office staff, for example), make sure to have different sections about each one. Thorough communication is important if you expect people to know what is expected of them.
Consistency Is King
I feel like I’ve said this before, as well. Whatever you do in enforcing (or not enforcing) a dress code, you have to do it with everyone. Show no favoritism. Even if the person violating the written code is your favorite child or spouse, you really need to treat them the same as you would treat anyone else. It’s ethically right…in many cases, it may be legally required!
“Favoritism” can easily be described as “discrimination”…and you really need to avoid that term as a business owner.
Make Your Case
Make your written dress code, but have good reasons for it, as well. Warehouse people need to wear steel-toed boots because there’s always a chance of heavy objects falling on their feet and the dress code will reduce the risk of injury. Assembly line workers have to wear hair coverings because of the risk of long hair getting into machinery. Front office folks may need to wear business suits, ties, or dresses because they are representing your company to the world and need to appear professional within your industry.
Every business will require different standards for dress. You have to determine what your standards will be, then make a strong case for them. That way you don’t just tell your employees, “You dress this way because I say so!” You never liked that when you heard it from your parents…your employees won’t like it much, either.
Punishment Fits The Crime
So if someone does violate the in-writing dress code what do you do? An incremental approach is probably the best way to go…
First, start by addressing everyone in the company…send out a company-wide email or bring it up with everyone gathered for a meeting. Send out (or hand out) a copy of the dress code. With any luck, the violator will get the hint and change their ways. And the rest of the staff will know that you are paying attention and that they shouldn’t take one person’s violation of the dress code as an excuse to let their own standards slip.
Second, if there’s still a problem, call the violating employee in privately and address it. There’s no good reason to dress them down (see what I did there?) in front of other people. Instead, try to keep it as low-key as possible…no reason to embarrass someone unnecessarily.
But in the end, if they just keep violating the employee handbook, then…punishment is justified. Make the punishment commensurate with the crime, though…a write-up is probably enough in most dress code violations…although there may be some cases where it rises to the level of suspension or dismissal.