Although the summer season doesn’t officially begin for another few weeks, we’ve certainly already been greeted by the warm weather. Many organizations choose to implement a summer dress code from Memorial Day through Labor Day so that employees feel a little more comfortable during the hot summer months. While I believe that a summer dress code is a great policy for many organizations, it also opens the door to employee interpretation of what is appropriate for summer dress code. Following the three simple guidelines below can help your organization manage your summer dress code to ensure that a professional and respectful workplace is maintained.
3 Best Ways to Develop Your Summer Dress Code Policy
- Develop a Standard: Consider just how “casual” you want your summer dress code to be. Does this mean that standard dress goes from business to business casual? Are jeans appropriate? What about sandals? Once you have determined the parameters of the summer dress code that best suits your employees, write it down as either a policy, or memo to distribute to employees.
- Communicate Expectations: The summer dress code can be announced at an all-staff meeting, via e-mail, or both. When communicating to employees be sure to let them know the time-frame for which the dress code has changed, and outline expectations in order to maintain a professional and respectful workplace. It’s important to approach this carefully – if you begin to highlight all the items that you do not want employees to wear they may begin to feel like children; so instead I encourage you to provide examples of what is appropriate according to the standards that your organization has determined. If employees are going to be expected to dress more professionally throughout the summer as business needs require, for a client prospect meeting as an example, it’s helpful to remind employees of this up front.
- Address Concerns: Although it’s often an uncomfortable situation it’s important to address inappropriate behavior, to include inappropriate dress, immediately. If an employee has taken the “casual” dress code too far and the organization ignores it then you run the risk of offending other individuals and/or sending the message that the inappropriate dress is up to standard. When addressing these concerns it’s often embarrassing to the employee so it’s best to pull them into an office or conference room privately and remind them of the standards according to the dress code. Repeated behaviors after the initial discussion should be treated as performance concerns and documented if the employee refuses to follow expectations.
A summer dress code is an easy and cost effective way to make a high impact on employee morale and engagement. If your organization clearly communicates expectations for a summer dress code, and maintains a workforce with an emphasis on a positive and respectful workplace, then the implementation of this program should be smooth and successful for the organization and the employees.