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Dress Code: How to enforce a dress code without causing problems

A question recently posted in BizJournals requested guidance on how to tackle those oh-so-awkward infractions of a company’s dress code.

According to the person who posed the question, an employee new to the company had taken the smart-but-casual dress code (think nice jeans and tops) a tad too far, punching in for the day in a ratty old sweatshirt and messy hair…after only three days on the job!

To address the issue, Alison Green of the Ask A Manager website, said that the author has an easy in simply because the employee is new. Specifically, she recommended that she take the employee aside and say “I realized we haven’t covered the dress code yet” and then take the time to state that while employees are welcome to dress more casually, they must still maintain a smart appearance. She noted that this can be done even if there isn’t an “official” (as in written) policy regarding dress code, since it falls into the category of being useful and kind information for a new employee.

Should this fail to improve the employee in question’s sartorial choices, you can then be more direct, stating something along the lines of “our dress code doesn’t include sweatshirts” as needed and then following up in accordance to your company’s policies should the worker fail to change their behavior.

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