One of the most difficult organizational documents to finalize is a dress code. This is especially true in higher ed. We are in a culture that encourages diversity and self expression – but it also important to reiterate that our organization’s credibility and brand can be established by the appearance of our staff. As stated in the previous post about Customer Service Basics,
“The appearance of the full time non-uniformed staff sets the standard for the company’s brand. An employee that appears sloppy and lazy in their professional appearance presents the image of not being able to adequately perform their job responsibilities. It is necessary to define and enforce a professional dress code in order to better win the respect of valued customers.
A study at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School showed that the best marketing tool was professional company uniforms. They are noted as more successful than internet, television, radio, billboard, and yellow pages advertising. Uniforms are perceived to be more professional and welcoming than casual wear in front line positions. It also builds the impression that all of the staff is working together as a team, which tremendous positive effect on staff morale and unity! Illustrate a more professional and hospitable brand by having a uniformed polished first impression.”
Understandably, this is one of the most controversial guidelines to establish. People typically don’t like to be told how to dress – but unfortunately a standard has to be set. Having a dress code also helps management in potentially uncomfortable discussions with staff regarding the appropriateness of their attire or grooming.
This is not a perfect solution for every organization – but here’s an example that might help guide or support you as you start along this journey.