In the headlines recently, there’s been talk about introducing new laws to make dress code in the workplace equal. This follows various cases where women have either been fired or sent home for not wearing high heels at work, sparking debates over whether employers are playing fair when it comes to workplace apparel and whether it is in fact legal to impose a rigid dress code.
Sure, as a business, there has to be some kind of policy on what is acceptable attire. Consideration has to be given to health & safety for instance, the amount of contact an employee has with customers, or whether the way in which someone dresses is representative of the organisation they work for showing a degree of professionalism. And of course, for many organisations, standards have to be maintained.
However, I was particularly interested in an article in The Telegraph today, about how some primary schools in the Midlands, are encouraging pupils to wear slippers in the classroom, feeling that wearing less formal and comfortable footwear would lead to pupils performing better.
This comes off the back of a study carried out by Bournemouth University, which showed that children were more engaged in the classroom if they didn’t wear shoes.
Of course, some parents have voiced concerns, questioning whether being less formal at school will benefit anybody. It seems though, that the schools that have introduced the option for pupils to wear slippers in the classroom have seen a marked improvement in how pupils felt and performed. Their children are calmer and more focused in their learning, feeling more attuned to the classroom environment, which is proving to have an all-round positive impact.
So my question here is, could a less formal workplace dress code be better for productivity, performance and engagement levels?
My answer is yes, but it’s not for everyone, it’s not for certain job roles, and it’s not for every organisation.
Going back to slippers, the whole point of them is that they are comfortable and relaxing. Just think of that moment when you’ve been on your feet all day, when you finally get home, all you want to do is take your shoes off.
And this is where my advocacy for slippers, and a less formal dress code lie. Here are some of the benefits of feeling more relaxed and comfortable at work with a less formal dress code:-
- Improves productivity
- Increases employee engagement levels
- Boosts morale
- Creates a sense of freedom
- Breaks down divisions between the more affluent employees and those less well off
- Attracts quality people who will not apply for a job at a company that does not allow casual attire
- Employees feel less micro-managed
- Generates creativeness
- Shows that employers value self-expression and individuality
Clearly, there are benefits for both employer and employee by introducing and encouraging a less formal dress code, even if it’s just for one a day a week.
Here at The Survey Initiative, we’ve recently moved into lovely new offices, with lovely new carpet, and the boss did suggest we should wear slippers. However, I think it was more of an idea to protect the new carpet, rather than getting us all working more productively. I think I need to revisit this with her.
The Survey Initiative is an award winning organisation with over 18 years expert experience in the field of employee research. We are passionate about what we do. If you would like more information about how we can help your organisation with employee engagement or any other employee research aspect, pick up the phone or contact us online.
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