Why advisers should care about clients’ dress codes

What do dress codes and benefit advisers have in common?

Believe it or not, identifying a client’s dress code is important for advisers. These policies are centered on exemplifying company culture, and advisers should be discussing this with clients as they identify benefit solutions. This is one way that consultants can assure they are offering viable benefits tailored to meet their client’s individual needs.

Traditionally, dress code policies were about empowerment. They set white collar apart from blue-collar workers, the executive from administrative staff. They also were individualized to the industry, such as retail or hospitality. Employers designed dress code policies that conveyed a visual image of trustworthiness and reliability.

Bloomberg Dress Code
City workers stroll during a lunch break in the financial district of Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. London could lose 10,000 banking jobs and 20,000 roles in financial services as clients move 1.8 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion) of assets out of the U.K. on Brexit, according to think-tank Bruegel. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Today, it’s still about a culture of empowerment. Aligning with the DNA of the generation that employers are focusing on attracting and retaining, dress codes established today focus on setting individual company culture. Take, for example, the “dress appropriately” policy at General Motors. The company has created a culture where supervisors and employees are empowered to think for themselves when determining what to wear to work.

Today’s more relaxed dress codes also allow for personal expression, advancing the form that diversity in the workforce can take. For example, bolder hair colors, tattoos, larger jewelry and religious customs are just a few of the considerations for employers to review. For some companies, the line is drawn at clothing that is not distracting or disruptive to the workplace and falls within non-discrimination guidelines.

How clients design their policies
When designing or updating a dress code policy, HR typically first identifies the objective of the dress code. Here are some questions they might consider.

  • What is the message the company wants to convey to its employees and the customers it represents? Some dress codes are meant to send a message about the company’s image or style – like a trendsetting salon or restaurants that require workers to wear all black or all white.
  • Does a policy need to be established for different departments, especially when safety is a requirement? Some business require closed toe shoes, no jewelry, or hair pulled up, such as on a construction site, manufacturing facility or restaurant.
  • Do employees who meet with executives or have regular client-facing meetings require a more professional attire?

Companies also need to ensure they are making decisions that will retain workers. Employers today should take just as much time in the interview process sharing and learning to see if a candidate will fit into their company culture.

In general, businesses are moving towards a more casual, comfortable style of dress. Advisers can use this as a guide to help identify company culture and tailor their benefits suggestions to help fit.

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