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Do casual dress codes improve workplace morale?

Jerry Miller's Profile

What have you observed about dress code effect?dress code and productivity


Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

One person's opinion. No, not when it is everyday, as it no longer becomes special. Human nature. If something is constant, I stop appreciating it. I think the benefit is greater for business casual Friday's or business casual Summer's. In this way the employee is always reminded that it is a benefit.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Jerry - Remember not to go too casual, after all you do not want customers, vendors, potential new hires to look upon your organization as unprofessional. I would consider looking at the policies of businesses in your industry to see what they are doing. I tend to agree with Regis. My employer has what it calls "Casual Fridays" but it has been so lax in its procedures and application of, that it is more like "Casual-any-one-day-of-the-week-you-want-to, day". So on any given day there will be someone in jeans, tennis/running shoes. It can be tacky too, if the casual days are not clearly defined as to what is acceptable, and what is not.

Regardless of what you choose to do, remember to keep it professional, employees should respect that.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I worked in an industry that was sometimes over the top in casual (it was high-fashion and they called it "trendy").

My feeling as long as you looked clean, and your clothing (regardless of "style") wasn't shredded, then I was fine. A comfortable person works better. The old fashioned feeling that "if you look professional you are professional" is just so 1950's.

On the other hand, if you want some uniformity, then a company monogrammed golf shirt and standard dockers for public facing employees (or all) makes some sense. All this clothing can be worn when ever/ where ever and the company gets free advertising from the golf shirts.

Lawrencia Osei
Title: Treasury Officer
Company: Ghacem Limited
(Treasury Officer, Ghacem Limited) |

YES, I am solidly behind Wayne for the point made.

Come to think of it, my colleagues at work feel so comfortable, relaxed and do extra work on Fridays. All because they are in what they feel comfortable in.

As Wayne rightly said, "A comfortable person works better". :-)

Thank you :)

Fritz Barth
Title: CEO
Company: Deepview LLC
(CEO, Deepview LLC) |

How about "Casual Fridays" at Job Fairs? I'm increasingly seeing job fairs where job seekers are dressed in the attire of the job they presumably want, from $800 dollar suits to shirtsleeves ("just thought I'd take a look"), whereas the recruiters, particularly from major corporations are generally in logoed polo shirts and slacks.
Does anyone else see the obnoxiousness of this? Yes, working a job fair is pretty rigorous but when a company does this, it's sending a clear signal of "us and them", employed vs. unemployed, secure vs. unsecure. In my opinion, it also signals unprofessionalism and connotes to jobseekers that employees are viewed as an input.

Damon Butler
Title: CFO
Company: The Protective Group, Inc.
(CFO, The Protective Group, Inc.) |

Easy guy... How many job fairs are you attending as the CEO of Deepview? Most of corporate America is business casual these days and slacks and a logoed polo are fairly standard.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

It depends on where you come from. If you are used to wearing a suit and tie and allow business casual on certain days, it's a plus. If you are business casual and allow jeans and athletic shoes on certain days, that boosts morale also. When you perceive something better than what you had, I think it does help morale.

Topic Expert
Henry Schumann
Title: Manager FP&A
Company: Allscripts
(Manager FP&A, Allscripts) |

Just my own opinion: A dress code policy should be clear, concise, and consistent. The morale killer is when one employee walks around the office in attire that is unacceptable and there are no repercussions to that employee while everyone else tows the company line. So the question of "how casual" is less important in my mind than being consistent in helping the company build a brand image, whatever that brand image might be.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Well stated.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I have worked in organizations where the dress code policy was supplemented with pics of "do's/don'ts"; in fact once we had Gap come in and do a business casual fashion show. Dress code and other practices help to define a work culture. The impact of casual dress code to reduce"economic/class" differences since formal business attire are at higher price points and put a strain on lower level employee budgets. If done right, it can reduce these social barriers, improve communications, team work, and morale.

(CFO) |

Absolutely. Casual dress:

1) costs less to buy
2) costs less to clean (it can typically be washed at home)
3) is more comfortable (how many people choose to wear business dress on their own time?)
4) saves the time required to change clothes when one returns home

What CFO can overlook these advantages?

Topic Expert
Karoline Mello
Title: Director, FP&A
Company: Apollo Group
(Director, FP&A, Apollo Group) |

While we hear antidotal evidence that a relaxed dress code makes employees happy and does not decrease productivity there is no evidence to support such claims. I believe it makes employees below a certain salary or level happy to wear pajama bottoms to work while executive management probably less so. As cited in this paper by Sarah Maloney Hughes there are negative impacts to too casual attire such as a decline in customer respect, trust; decline in professional image; more casual ethics, morality, and professional behavior.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

In fairness, most claims that professional dress code affects performance have been debunked too. The problem with dress code studies is that they are inherently flawed. The samples are too diverse, and you end up with too many other factors besides dress code that are truly impacting performance.

I can't speak for others, but I feel I perform the same when I am in a 3 piece suit that I do in my Friday slacks and polo. I think dress code is more of a culture issue than a performance issue.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I think Chris is overlooking fit. Due to expense, I am more likely to keep proper fitting clothes within my casual wardrobe than the formal one. I can struggle through a work day in something that is a bit tight, but I wouldn't accept that in my everyday wear, especially when I look at cost. When I am wearing something that fits, I work fine.

I do agree with the overall sentiment that guidelines need to be established and maintained. People understand different terms to mean different things and pictures/examples go a long way to making sure no one shows up in something inappropriate or offensive.

Konrad Sosnow
Title: Revenue Recognition Guru
Company: Konrad M. Sosnow & Associates
(Revenue Recognition Guru, Konrad M. Sosnow & Associates) |

I never felt comfortable wearing a tie and jacket. A dressy shirt and slacks with dress loafers works for me. I don't believe that jeans, bare midriffs, sneakers, or sandals belong in the workplace.

Alexander Cugini
Title: Accounting Team Leader
Company: SmartBooks Corp
(Accounting Team Leader, SmartBooks Corp) |

Our company works off the virtual model(ie rarely in office, people telecommute) so we tend to always be casual when we do meet in the office on occasion. However when we meet with a client we dress up depending on the type of organization, if they are shirt and tie, we will dress the same to any meeting, basically just mimicking them. In doing that you can make employee's happy with not needing to dress up, but still look professional when meeting with clients.

John Popp
Title: Partner
Company: Derma Ice, LLC
(Partner, Derma Ice, LLC) |

Our people work in casual attire in all of our businesses, although we often wear suits when meeting with customers, on sales calls, etc. Casual clothing does NOT reflect casual attitude if selection of personnel has been canny. We are specifically repulsed by the potential financial effects of an overly strict dress code - tasteful slacks, polo, and shoes & socks should come to less than $200, whereas a tailored suit & accoutrements will go over $2000, which makes care of the suit a distraction when not circumstantially requisite. In contrast, cheap suits look cheap and reflect poorly on the wearer. When business setting suggests a suit as being appropriate, then those affected dress accordingly. It's absolutely verboten to use attire internally as a sign of power, and equally repulsive as sign of protest or goofy individuality. We have work to do, not games to play. Learn to be a shark, but swim in calm waters - that is, use that talent for knowledgeable defense only when needed, including dressing for comfort (and useful work) or power as demanded by current settings.

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