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The Young Professionals’ Guide on Workplace Attire – Part 2 – Figuring Out Formal Attire

In part one of The Young Professionals’ Guide on Workplace Attire, The Case for Casual Clothing, our Revenue Analyst here at eHealthcare Solutions, Samuel, laid out both sides of the debate for dressing causally in the workplace. After doing some research, he concluded that as long as it is appropriate, allowing employees to exercise their creativity and reflect their personalities through their clothing could serve an organization well.

In part two, Samuel delves into young professionals’ feelings on formal attire.

In the study of students (referenced in part one), respondents explained that formal business attire projects dependability and capability, while somewhat formal business attire is associated with productivity and trustworthiness. Indeed, even young professionals who may not have workplace experience understand the importance of ‘dressing the part’, and this should be considered when formalizing workplace dress expectations. “HR managers and other corporate executives should operate under the assumption that younger professionals do associate authoritativeness and competence with more formal business attire,” and plan accordingly (Cardon & Okoro, 2009).

In fact, employees may not mind dress codes as much as management may anticipate. A Salary.com survey of 4,600 individuals found that nearly one-quarter believe their company rules about attire are too lenient – further supporting the study’s findings that the majority of students supported dress codes in general. Formal dress codes can create stronger work cultures, and can help to bring people and teams together, as everyone is operating at the same level of professionalism (Taylor, 2016). At worst, a policy that isn’t comprehensive or is overly casual can break down an organization’s established culture.

The importance of a detailed policy to avoid confusion cannot be understated – as Tess Taylor points out in an article for HR Magazine: “a study conducted by professor Dennis Tootelian at California State University revealed that today’s workers don’t understand the concept of ‘business casual.’ In fact, 47 percent of the U. S. population cannot define that term and ‘nearly one in three Americans find it harder to know what’s acceptable to wear to the office as compared to ten years ago,’” (Taylor, 2016). Choosing a more formal dress code can help employees establish consistent work practices and might be more easily understood throughout an organization.

Hopefully this helps highlight the benefits of professional attire in the workplace. We’ll be back with part three of this four-part series, which will dig deeper into how apparel impacts the attitudes of young employees.

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. Taylor, T. (2016). Formal Business Attied Boosts Confidence and Performance. HR Magazine, 61(5), 29. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=115912949&site=eds-live&scope=site

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