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The Young Professionals’ Guide on Workplace Attire – Part 1 – The Case for Casual Clothing

Among the many different occupations that exist, few issues impact all of them. One concern, however, arises for employers and employees across industries alike and that is: workplace attire.

While United States fashion trends broadly morph from more traditional looks to those that incorporate more casual styles, the office is a place where this shift can cause tension and influence outcomes in both positive and negative ways. Navigating this trend is something offices cannot avoid, so it’s important for employers and employees to carefully consider attire when approaching any potential interactions on the job.

The Case for Casual Clothing

One of our employees, Samuel Ferrante, Revenue Analyst, did some research and as the title implies, below is the case for casual clothing in the workplace:

In a 2009 study carried out by Business Communication Quarterly, research gathered from students at two East Coast universities showed an overwhelming desire in them to work for companies where the usual dress code is business casual, with between 64% and 73% of respondents preferring a business casual work environment. However, even though respondents preferred ‘business casual’ attire, this was also a disapproval of ‘less-professional’, ‘casual workplace’ attire. Furthermore, a majority [of students] do support corporate dress codes (Cardon & Okoro, 2009). It is notable, however, that students feel that their preference for ‘less-formal’ business attire is associated with creativity and friendliness, two professional characteristics that they consider helpful or desirable in certain work settings.

Separately, in an article by CPA Practice Advisor, the ability to dress down at work was seen as a ‘summer perk’ that employees embrace and may be enticed by when selecting employers. As long as it does not detract from quality work output, their suggestion is to allow staff who aren’t customer- or client-facing to wear more casual attire. “Employers might even consider instituting themed Fridays where Hawaiian shirts or sports apparel are encouraged” (O’Bannon, 2017). Allowing more options and more flexibility is usually supported by employees, and, at no cost to the employer, can be an easy method of improving morale in the workplace and attracting prospects.

When deciding on dress codes and what is or is not appropriate for a specific workplace, Human Resources shouldn’t be afraid of assuming younger professionals won’t support dress codes, but should also be careful not to overly emphasize formal business attire. With the right balance, an organization can, hopefully, satisfy both employees and management – and create an environment more conducive to the needs of the business. The final rules surrounding attire should reflect the needs of the organization in a sensible way, while respecting staffs’ desires where applicable.

Part two of this four part series will continue with ‘figuring out formal attire’ and how it can be beneficial to the overall environment of the workplace. Stay tuned.

References

  1. Cardon, P. W., & Okoro, E. A. (2009). Professional Characteristics Communicated by Formal Versus Casual Workplace Attire. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(3), 355-360. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1177/1080569909340682
  2. O’Bannon, I. M. (2017). Flex Time and Short Fridays Top List of Summer Perks. CPA Practice Advisor, 27(6), 15. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=124445345&site=eds-live&scope=site

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