Enforcing Your Dress Code in the Summer Months

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Banish the Office Beach Bum Mentality

As the weather warms, halter tops, flip-flops and Bermuda shorts may make their way into the workplace, despite what your dress code says about what's appropriate to wear. Workplace attire is a growing issue as workers' priorities in work apparel center on casual comfort. A recent poll by Yahoo! HotJobs showed that 25% of workers report having a casual Friday and an additional 32% say every day is a casual day at work. With all this emphasis on “casual” in the workplace, lines of appropriate attire become blurred, and more and more workplace fashion faux pas are slipping through, making dress code enforcement a hot issue for the summer.

No Flip FlopsSo what should you look out for as workers begin to don attire more appropriate for the beach than the office? Here are some typical summer workplace attire issues and tips on how to address them.

To Flip or to Flop?
In recent years, flip-flops have become a must-have for women from New York to L.A. But their casual vibe caused a media uproar when a group of students wore them to White House to meet the President. In fact, there is a lot of controversy over the appropriateness of this beach shoe away from water. So are flip-flops an appropriate choice for work? Experts agree that unless you're in a line of work at the water's edge, it's best to steer clear of flip-flops at work. Flip-flops convey the air of vacation, making employee behavior even more relaxed. They can also be a safety hazard, causing slips, falls or equipment malfunctions. Flip-flops are a dress code issue for both men and women, but policing the flip-flop in women's fashion can be more difficult because the shoe comes in a variety of colors, heights and styles. If an employee trots in with flip-flops on, it's best to request that they return home and change to safer, more appropriate shoes.

To the Beach or Bust.
During the summer, beachwear at the office isn't restricted to shoe choice. Employees in a workplace with a casual dress code may show up in shorts, tank tops or halter dresses, whether there's a beach-themed party that day or not. Far worse is when employees wear swimwear as undergarments that show underneath normal work attire. When an employee arrives at work looking like they're headed for sandy beaches, let them know that such attire isn't appropriate for work but that when their shift ends, they can change into their beach gear before they head to the beach or pool. You may want to send employees home to change if the offense is obvious. Otherwise, simply tell each employee when the infraction occurs that they will be expected to not wear such clothing again or they will be sent home to change.

Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie Attire.
Women's fashion has taken hemlines up and down throughout the years, but regardless of what's “in,” summer is a time when many female workers will wear clothing that's shorter, tighter or more revealing. Regardless, revealing clothing is not appropriate in a business setting. However, addressing this issue can be difficult. Many employers fear that addressing revealing clothing will stir up problems, but actually, it's in their best interest to address the issue each time it arises. This establishes the precedent that workplace attire must adhere to your stated policy standards and helps you to avoid showing favoritism. Send employees home to change when they wear too-tight shirts or too-short skirts and you'll have the power to send home workers wearing other inappropriate items.

Addressing these workplace dress code issues when they arise will keep your workforce looking professional and appropriate during the hot summer months.

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