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What about FlipFlops (and other summer challenges)

As teSummer Dress Codemperatures grow warmer, it is often just a matter of time before an employee steps into the office with a little bit too much beach theme in mind when they picked their dress for the day. But how do you deal with it as an employer, without destroying your embraced flexible dress code? Here are five tips to keep the culture great, and the dress code inline with your expectations.

1. Talk

Personally, I believe that employees should understand the culture of an organization and with that, what is right to wear and what not. But I also realize that my opinion about what is dressed appropriately is not always aligned with my employees (especially because my Dutch heritage plays still a major part in my clothing style). And that might be for your employees as well. Try to talk about appropriate dress with your employees. Great moments are at the moment of hiring, or that very first moment when you treat everyone on Ice cream at the beginning of the summer. A comment like:” Ok, summer is officially upon us, this means ice cream! And you don’t have to wear your Hawaii shirt, and your flip flops to work for that.” Will do wonders. Especially if you use the pieces that you absolutely do not appreciate in the work place.

2. Make it visual (like Pinterest)

Some employees just need to see what you mean with unappropriate dress. When you work with a creative workforce, let them make a story board about dress code in the organization. You will see that working on a board, will start a conversation and it also creates a community. Titles as “we like this” “we don’t like this” will make it clear for everyone passing the board.

3. Dress Code Competition / Theme Days

It is similar as above, but then you ask the employees to dress the best. The person who is Best Dressed, will win the award. Are you in a non-client facing department? You could try also Worst Dressed, or Beach Day. It is amazing  how people will get exactly what you mean when you hold a competition like that. In addition, are you not a fan of flip-flops? The Beach Day will give those flip-flop fans one day a year the opportunity to show off their coolest footwear. When you send out the invitation make some hints in what is absolutely not proper to prevent too much body exposure.

4. Send someone home

When you have explained to someone one on one what is proper and what is not, and this person keeps coming in with the wrong style. Just send him home. It is bad that it has to come that far, but it will make clear who decides on dress code. In the end it is the manager, not the employee. I did that once for a sales manager, and it did miracles. Always cleanly shaved, and well defined appearance after that.

5. Write it down

Would you like to have it very black and white? Write it down. Then you can point to something when somebody is not in line. When you do write it down, make sure that you write examples down of what is accepted, and not just what is and isn’t. Employees will find the holes if you don’t write down the specifics.

Please make sure that if you do decide to implement a policy that you implement them consistently. Policies that are implemented only on occasion and unequally enforced are often worse than not having a policy at all. Set up a method to communicate and deal with violations and be even-handed with application.