As a small business owner, conducting staff evaluations can be difficult. Although it’s typically a time to address issues like productivity and performance, you may also need to touch on the awkward subject of employee appearance. All staff members are expected to comply with the company dress code. Those who fail to do so should be formally addressed, and a staff evaluation is an appropriate time to do it.

Critique Without Offense

Avoid critiquing employee appearance in an offensive manner. While detailed examples of past violations can be helpful, your wording should not be hurtful. Use phrases like “against company dress code.” Do not offend with terms like “racy” or “provocative.” Do not imply hidden meanings that might be considered harassment, sexual or otherwise. Focus on the fact that the staff member’s appearance, which might include dress, personal grooming or body art, does not comply with company standards. Leave personal opinions aside.

Reinforce Dress Code

Refer to your employee manual if you have one. Point out specific rules that are being violated. For example, if a staff member regularly wears revealing attire, has visible tattoos, or fails to maintain good personal hygiene, reiterate those particular sections of the dress code. Explain why the company dress code exists. If, for example, you require a business formal dress code because you frequently deal with executives, explain that they would be less likely to do business with your company if everyone wears jeans and sneakers.

Require Signature

Include space in the evaluation for employee and management signatures. This might serve as validation that the issues were addressed, should you require further disciplinary action. Give one copy of the evaluation to the employee for reference and maintain one copy in the employee’s file.

Use Discretion

Avoid bringing attention to individual noncompliance issues in group settings, such as meetings. Aside from adding unnecessary embarrassment to the situation, you might find yourself in violation of employee privacy policies. To address employee appearance, a private setting is best for the staff evaluation. Apply dress code compliance across the board. Hold every staff member, including managers, accountable to the company dress code.