Eventually every small business owner will have to deal with that problem employee who is always looking to push the limits. Whether it is too many sick days, coming in late and/or leaving early or figuring out new ways to abuse employee benefits or other privileges, we have all known this type of person. However, when you have an employee who dresses inappropriately it can be a more awkward situation to address.
Nationwide work place dress codes have become much more casual over the last 20 years. The days of suits and ties are for the most part long gone. Small businesses in particular often want to have a more casual atmosphere without all of the corporate bureaucracy that many large corporations have. Now, especially as millennials are taking over the work force, employees’ interpretation of appropriate attire may differ from that of the owners. One thing that owners should keep in mind is that their younger employees may be struggling with their business wardrobes just as much. So here are a few steps that you can take to alleviate your headaches.
First of all, you should have a policy. You can keep it flexible and not necessarily state what should be worn, but you should consider including a list of clothing that should not be worn. In a manufacturing environment safety is a consideration so loose clothing that could interfere with machinery should not be allowed. Similarly sandals, flip flops and other open shoes could pose a safety hazard. For the office, you may want to consider listing unacceptable items that are either deemed too casual, such as sweat pants, yoga pants and flip flops, or too revealing. Remember, you are running a business, not a night club.
When an issue arises with an employee, it is important to address it quickly. If not, others could take note and start wearing similar attire. Depending on the nature of the attire and how often the employee wears it, you may be able to address the issue by sending out a “reminder” notice to all employees or post a notice in the break room. Sometimes this subtle reminder with nip the problem in the bud, plus remind other employees of the proper wardrobe for the office.
Then again, sometimes it won’t. Then you need to meet with the employee to discuss the situation. Most importantly, do not meet with the person alone. As with any employee related issues, you should always have another staff member in the meeting as a witness to protect all parties involved. Also, be prepared. Plan your words carefully so you do not come across too strong or make it sound like it is a performance issue. Focus on clarifying the company’s dress code and be specific about the issue and explain why it is an issue.
Of course, ensuring that your dress code is legally compliant is also important and should be prepared or reviewed by a human resource professional. Total Team Solutions is a full service human resource outsourcing company that has HR professionals that can help you with this and many other policy and procedure issues. We also perform payroll and benefit administration services for our clients that often provide significant cost savings. For more information, check out our website at www.ttspro.com or call us at 800-836-9678.