Many UK workplaces have dress codes, introduced by employers to present a corporate image, to help customers identify staff easily or for health and safety reasons – factory workers might not be able to wear certain items of clothing, for example, if they operate machinery.
A recent survey, however, carried out by Banana Moon Clothing, suggested that not every employee who has a dress code for work is happy about it. Many would prefer more freedom to dress how they want, with comfort being a key factor. If given the choice, one in seven would go to work in slippers if they could.
Not everyone agrees with this approach, though. 30% of workers surveyed said it was important to dress smartly, but the majority (55%) expressed unhappiness with their dress code, with nearly half of these saying it impacted on their productivity.
Where people work makes a difference to how they feel about their company’s dress code. Those in corporate industries, for example, are more likely to want to see changes. Over 82% of people working at law firms are unhappy with what they are required to wear for work, followed by information research at 72%, then transport and retail – both at 67% – and business at 63%.
These industries may include a specific uniform and are often client-facing, with clients who expect the people they are interacting with to look a certain way. Most clients would expect their lawyer to wear a suit to court or meetings for example, and you would generally expect a bus driver to be wearing a uniform.
There might be different expectations from clients of people working in other sectors, ones where you might want people to think and work differently for example, and these are the ones where employees are happiest with their dress codes. They include those working in the media at 78%, science at 73%, charity at 67%, energy at 61% and other creative industries at 59%.
Top of the list for adding to dress codes for those that had them was jeans, with 44% of people surveyed saying they wanted to wear them to work. These were closely followed by trainers (37%) and hoodies (22%). Not quite as popular choices were flip flops and leggings, with 17% and 15% of people, respectively, wanting to wear these to work. Pyjamas were also favoured by 7% of those surveyed.
Banana Moon Clothing’s managing director, Alex Grace, said that she believes there is a pressure on companies to adapt and relax their dress codes, allowing staff to wear more casual clothing. She acknowledges slippers, while comfortable, won’t always be practical but says that, in some cases they might be. Making changes to dress codes, she argues, should be considered and could well lead to happier employees long-term.
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