7 Tips for Establishing an Employee Dress Code and Grooming Policy

As a business owner, you want your employees to reflect your company’s values. Sometimes, this requires establishing an appropriate employee dress code and grooming policy. Here are some tips to help you do it the right way.


From law offices to fast food restaurants, dress codes play an important role in the workplace. If you’ve ever asked someone for a dress size and they told you, ‘I don’t work here’, you understand all too well.

Establishing an employee dress code and keeping it consistent isn’t as difficult as you might think. A firm stance and gentle reminders will keep your dress code enforced and respected.

Dress codes don’t mean there isn’t room for expressing yourself, but it’s important people understand the rules before they are allowed to break them.

Let’s take a look at some easy ways to keep things uniform.

Enforcing an Employee Dress Code

Whether you run a small business or a chain retail store, these simple rules will help remind people of what is expected. It might be for safety, it could be to re-enforce brand. maybe, it just looks good.

1. Have it Posted

Having signs posted to remind employees of the dress code is an easy and gentle method. They will see it every day and get used to seeing it. Post it a dressing room, the lunch room or the washroom facilities, just to cover all the bases.

For people who work in construction or other fields where there is a chance they can be injured, it’s important they have all the right equipment and clothing.

Steel-toed boots, safety vests, helmets or hard hats and other safety gear are necessary. It can affect your insurance and other safety policies if these policies are not followed to the tee.

2. Follow Suit

It’s very important to dress in the fashion yourself. Different departments or levels may have different dress codes or uniforms, but if you want to enforce, you have to dress that way yourself.

By wearing the required items, you set a good example. People need guidance and often look for reasons to buck the system. If you are wearing the required dress, they can’t use that as a reason not to.

3. Mention it Before Hiring

When you are interviewing potential employees, mention the dress code and ask if they have any concerns. If people are expected to wear office attire, new employees may not have the funds for it.

Mentioning it before they are offered the job allows them to prepare. If they are on a restricted budget, make suggestions for good quality used clothing. This can be very helpful if very specific safety clothing is involved.

If you require employees to wear certain uniforms or safety boots, perhaps allow a grace period until they have their first paycheck or two.

4. Dress Policy in Contract

When hiring the new employee, be sure to include the dress code or uniform policy in the contract. Point it out to them when they are signing. It might seem redundant, but you want to cover all the bases.

This way, you have documentation, should you ever need it, to remind them of the policy. If it continues to be an issue, you can use this contract as grounds for a verbal or written caution.

5. Praise Employees

Just as you need to address people now and then on their lapse on dress code, you need to praise them on getting it right. Praise them in front of their co-workers but reprimand them in private.

You should bring up the dress code in regular meetings, even if there have been no issues. Thank everyone for dressing appropriately. It never hurts to drive the point home. Mention praise you received from a client or customer.

When people make small adjustments that work, praise them for it. You can have a casual day, where people can relax a bit. Even when uniforms are used, people can make them their own without covering or disguising it.

6. Allow for Individually

Even people who work at the computer store or delivery service need to express their own style. Allow for certain adjustments. It can be confusing for customers to walk into a store and just see a sea of red shirts.

Jewelry and other accessories are a small but personal touch people enjoy. Perhaps a plain T-shirt under a uniform top, and allow them to wear their own same-colored pants or shoes for comfort.

If facial hair is a problem, suggest they keep the funky sideburns but lose the beard. If it’s someone in an equal or higher position, you can surprise them with a thoughtful gift.

Tell them they look so much younger without the beard. Learn more about fabulous razors here.

7. Remind Them Why

There is a reason why companies expect employees to dress in a certain way. Whether it’s to give a professional appearance, to recognize employees in a crowd or for their own safety.

‘Doesn’t anyone work here?’ is something we’ve all muttered under our breath. If people are used to shopping in your store and seeing a blue shirt or a green apron, then make sure they find one. It can mean keeping a customer rather then them leaving out of frustration.

It helps to keep customers happy, to keep your brand consistent and to present an air of professionalism. Whether you run a small office or are part of a large chain store, these dress codes serve a purpose.

Clothing Matters

You wouldn’t expect to go to a fine dining restaurant and be waited on by someone with ratty blue jeans and a concert T-shirt. Just like you wouldn’t expect your doctor to be wearing a belly shirt and flip-flops.

Uniforms and dress codes are in place for a reason. Even a simple apron your baker wears stands for trust and reliability. it not only protects his clothing, it’s a symbol of his product.

Employee dress code doesn’t have to be unreasonable. If you allow flexibility and you follow the same rules, then you won’t have any problem keeping it adhered to.

It keeps your customers happy and keeps the confusion down, especially if you have a busy store. It makes people easily recognizable and sets a standard of the type of service you can expect.

For more helpful tips on small business, please continue reading here.

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