There are many factors that may affect employee performance, from the environmental to the motivational. One of the most easily overlooked – but often most significant – is how the way that we dress has an impact on how we feel, and consequently how we perform. Most of us have had that one experience where we have been in the wrong outfit and experienced a whole range of negative emotions as a result. Whether you’re too casual at an interview or overdressed at a party, a drop in confidence, feelings of low self-worth and some serious self-consciousness can all result. But how does this translate to the workplace every day – and could a dress code be the answer?
The link between dress code and performance
What we wear impacts on what we do via how it makes us feel. If we feel confident, like we are being ourselves and that we fit in with the team around us then we are much more likely to feel secure and perform well. So much emphasis surrounds aesthetics and what we wear today that having this clarified via a work dress code can be crucial. A dress code may also encourage employees to wear clothes that create a work-appropriate mood in the office, for example a well-tailored suit for bold, professional confidence.
Using a dress code to enhance team performance
Whether a dress code will work within your business will depend on its existing culture and what the business values are. The sudden introduction of a very formal dress code, for example, could unnerve employees who are used to wearing casual. So, it’s important to make dress code changes gradually and ensure that they are in line with how the business has defined itself.
Set your dress code out in unambiguous terms
It should be very clear what the dress code is so that there is no confusion. You may find that employees feel it’s a relief that they don’t have to start from scratch in choosing their outfits each day.
Focus on comfort and calm
If you’re demanding that staff wear restrictive or uncomfortable clothes to work then you may start to see issues with performance or absenteeism. Some requirements – such as a dress code that insists women wear high heels, for example – could also generate legal or reputational issues. So, pick a dress code that will encourage employees to choose outfits that are professional but comfortable and which don’t detract from why they are there in the first place: to work
Give employees some room for self-expression
If a dress code becomes a uniform it can have a negative effect on a workforce of adult humans who want to feel like individuals. So, leave some room for individual expression and your employees will be happier and work better as a result.
Don’t be afraid to set a standard
Power dressing can have an impact on confidence, which is a powerful driver of performance. A dress code that encourages power dressing could contribute to a workforce that is more confident, focused and employees who believe they can exceed their goals.