Employer

While tech companies are often portrayed as allowing relatively relaxed attire these days, it turns out that many companies still have and enforce business professional dress codes. And not only do they have them, but the majority of employees think they’re beneficial.

Recently, BambooHR polled more than 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees (half of whom are in HR) who work at small-to-medium-sized tech companies to get a better sense of the type of dress codes enforced at their companies. The survey highlights that in today’s world of increased workplace flexibility and willingness to cater to desires of a largely younger workforce, dress codes are still relied upon and valued – 70 percent of respondents reported feeling their dress codes were good for the company.

And while it’s not much of a surprise that a good portion work at companies with business casual dress codes, it’s interesting to note that 40 percent adhere to a business professional code (e.g., slacks, dress shirt and jacket for men; button-down/collared shirt and skirt/pants suit for women).

The survey confirms that HR still places a lot of stock in an employee’s attire during the hiring process, and it’s still crucial to have a professional appearance, even if doing a virtual interview. And then once hired, it’s important to adhere to the dress code. Nearly half of respondents admitted to having been talked to about their choice of dress being inappropriate for their workplace and nearly one in three
respondents have had to go home and change because their dress was not appropriate for their workplace. Despite the perception of some that dress codes primarily impact women, 51 percent of men reported being talked to about violating the dress codes, compared to just 41 percent of women.

And despite the number of facets of appearance included in dress codes, fewer than 1 in 5 said they wanted a more relaxed dress code. In fact, the overwhelming majority—77 percent—reported being open to working for another company with a less-relaxed dress code. While the dress code may sometimes seem out of style, these survey results suggest appearance still plays a big part:

  • Casual: 60 percent
  • 4 in 5 respondents (80 percent) said they “usually” or “always” follow their organization’s dress code
  • 70 percent of respondents said having a dress code is beneficial (“somewhat beneficial” or “very beneficial”) – the feeling was nearly even between men (71 percent) and women (69 percent)
  • 77 percent of respondents would be open to working a similar job (that paid the same) at another company that required a more professional dress code
  • When asked how much they would like to work for a company with a less professional dress code or dress expectation than the one at their current company, only 17 percent said “a lot”
  •  Casual dress articles or accessories that respondents noted employees are allowed to wear at their company:
    ○ Jeans: 57 percent
    ○ T-shirts: 45 percent
    ○ Sandals: 27 percent
    ○ Leggings: 27 percent
    ○ Visible piercings and tattoos: 26 percent
    ○ Hats: 24 percent
    ○ Shorts: 24 percent
    ○ Hoodies: 24 percent
    ○ Sweatpants: 18 percent
    ○ Exercise clothing: 17 percent
    ○ Ripped, “distressed,” or otherwise altered clothing (e.g., cut-offs): 10 percent

Heads up from HR: Dress to impress

  •  2 in 5 respondents in HR noted that their organization doesn’t run into issues with its dress code
    ○ 1 in 5 (19 percent) said that they think their code is too restrictive
    ○ 15 percent said it’s not enforced
    ○ 16 percent said that employees generally don’t follow it
  • Nearly half of respondents in HR (49 percent) said they feel it’s more important for members of HR to follow the dress code than other employees
  • While many respondents in HR (43 percent) consider those in HR to be primarily responsible for enforcing the company’s official dress code, 1 in 3 (35 percent) think it’s upper management’s responsibility and 1 in 5 (22 percent) think it’s an employee’s supervisor’s responsibility
  • How respondents in HR expect candidates to dress for a virtual interview:
    ○ Business casual: 39 percent
    ○ Business professional: 26 percent
    ○ Casual: 18 percent
    ○ There is no dress expectation: 7 percent
    ○ Don’t conduct virtual interviews: 10 percent
  • How respondents in HR expect candidates to dress for an in-person interview:
    ○ Business professional: 38 percent
    ○ Business casual: 37 percent
    ○ Casual: 19 percent
    ○ There is no dress expectation: 6 percent
  • Respondents in HR at companies with casual dress codes still expect candidates to dress up for the interview:
    ○ Virtual interviews: 1 in 10 (10 percent) expect their virtual interview candidates to dress in business professional attire and another third (33 percent) expect candidates to dress business casual
    ○ In-person interviews: 13 percent expect their in-person interview candidates to dress in business professional attire and another 44 percent expect candidates to dress business casual
  • More than 3 in 5 respondents in HR (61 percent) said that a candidate’s dress during the hiring/interview process influences their hiring decisions “a lot” or “completely”

The consequences

  • 64 percent of respondents in HR have had to communicate with a candidate that their dress was inappropriate for their workplace
  • Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) admitted to having been talked to about their choice of dress being inappropriate for their workplace
    ○ Men ranked higher than women (51 percent vs. 41 percent)
  • Nearly one in three respondents (30 percent) have had to go home and change because their dress was not appropriate for their workplace
    ○ Men ranked slightly higher than women (32 percent vs. 28 percent)
  • The top issues with inappropriate dress that HR respondents said their organization has disciplined employees for in the past year:
    ○ Being too revealing in dress choice: 36 percent
    ○ Being sexually suggestive in dress choice: 31 percent
    ○ Wearing clothing with offensive/inappropriate (political, social, profane, vulgar) messages: 30 percent
    ○ Dressing less casually than the official dress code: 27 percent
    ○ Being ungroomed: 24 percent
    ○ Dressing in extreme styles (hair, makeup, accessories, strong perfume or cologne): 23 percent
    ○ We don’t discipline issues with inappropriate dress: 17 percent
  • Top three ways that issues with inappropriate dress are handled:
    ○ They are addressed through formal verbal warning: 46 percent
    ○ They are informally communicated: 41 percent
    ○ They are addressed through formal written warning: 31 percent

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