Fix Up, Look Sharp.

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casualLove it or hate it, ‘Dress Down Friday’ – a day where our staff can cast aside their suits, blouses and ties in favour of the more comfortable jeans and tee – is becoming increasingly popular among UK businesses.  Originally spawned in America (no, really?), the introduction of a casual day to the working week has divided opinion.  So, what’s all the fuss about?  Does what you wear to work even matter and what exactly are the implications of encouraging your employees to come into work looking like they’ve just been kicked through River Island?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a less formal office attire, whether it be once a week or on a permanent basis, and the effects it might have on your business.    

What is ‘casual’? –  This is open to interpretation.  If you are thinking of rolling out a ‘casual day’ it would probably make sense to at least have some guidelines in place so that your staff know what is expected of them when they’re choosing an outfit for work.  To avoid an office full of distasteful t-shirts (anything with Justin Bieber on it) or items of clothing that some may find offensive (again, anything with Justin Bieber on it) it may be prudent to introduce a policy on what is acceptable attire on dress down days.  Also, you may want to ensure staff are in formal office wear for days when there are visitors to the office or when they attend events such as networking meetings or trade shows.      

Monitor sickness, absence & productivity levels – Believe it or not, feedback suggests that employees find the process of actually having to choose a full outfit far more stressful than just selecting which blouse, jacket or tie they will wear for the day.  In fact, in some cases, the introduction of a casual day to the working week has been blamed for a downturn in productivity and an increase in levels of sickness and absence.  Be sure to monitor attendance and productivity levels on an on-going basis to ensure that the only effects that casual days are having on your business are positive ones.

It is safe to say that casual days aren’t for everyone.  Some claim that they increase morale and act as a reward to staff for working hard during the week, others think they pose too much of a threat to the office dynamic to prove worthwhile.  It really depends on what it is that YOUR company does and the image you’re trying to promote to both your customers AND your staff.

Whatever your opinion is on ‘Dress Down Fridays’, think long and hard about the culture of your business before introducing them.


David is a Human Resources Consultant at Let’s Talk People.

David has been providing HR & employment law advice to business owners and company directors for 8 years. He is a qualified member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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