Do the Advantages of a Dress-Down Policy Outweigh the Disadvantages?

by Wendel Clark; Updated September 26, 2017
Group of business people working around computer

Dress-down days are specific days on which employees are allowed to dress in more casual clothing than they usually do. Employees who typically wear a suit and tie may dress down in khakis; certain employers may even allow their staff to wear jeans and T-shirts or even shorts and sandals. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider when implementing a dress-down policy.

Advantages

A dress-down policy gives your employees the chance to wear comfortable clothing to work. This small benefit is easy to implement and can increase employee morale. In certain cases, dress-down days can be used as a fundraiser for charities by having employees donate a small sum for the right to dress down. This can allow you to give back to the community while boosting employee spirits.

Disadvantages

Although dress-down policies can make your staff feel more comfortable, they may have a negative impact on your clients. If your clients are accustomed to seeing a professionally dressed staff, they may be unimpressed with seeing them in jeans and T-shirts. Allowing employees to dress down can also negatively impact worker productivity if they interpret a dress-down day to be a day where less work is expected of them.

When the Advantages Are Greater

The advantages of a dress-down day are usually greater if the employees enjoy dressing casually and your clients don't mind. The advantages are also greater when your employees don't interact with customers directly, such as if they work in a call center. The advantages also shine through when the positive attention is greater than any negative attention, such as if you use the day as a fundraiser for a local charity.

When Disadvantages Are Greater

The disadvantages are greater when professional appearance is of great importance to your business. This is particularly the case in professions such as law, management consulting and medicine, where people are expected to look authoritative. The disadvantages are also greater in situations where casual dress may not be safe, such as in labor jobs that require protective clothing.

About the Author

Wendel Clark began writing in 2006, with work published in academic journals such as "Babel" and "The Podium." He has worked in the field of management and is completing his master's degree in strategic management.

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