HR Blog

Shoulders and Arms and Toes, Oh My!

06/01/2018 | Dee Yingst

If you see your HR person sweating more than usual right now, it’s not because temperatures are going up but because they’re starting to see arms, shoulders, and even toes in their workplaces. Yikes!

We talked last year about crafting your year-round dress code, let’s talk now about we adjust that to create your summer dress code.

Safety should still come first.

Summer attire usually includes more casual footwear. That’s all fine and well until it causes a safety problem. Safety must be the first requirement of any dress code. I still like the example of an industry where patients are frequently pushed in wheelchairs. Do you really want these workers in sandals? Just imagine that fashionable sandal being crushed under an occupied wheelchair. Ouch. Given the choice of safety or style, always choose safety.

Continue being consistent.

You can have a different summer dress code for different functional areas of an organization. Maybe you want to allow office staff to wear sandals and short sleeve shirts but those garments wouldn’t be safe in your machine shop. That’s ok. Just be sure you’re being consistent.

Keep it reasonable and enforceable.

It’s perfectly fine to say you’ll allow sleeveless tops but not tank tops. Try not to get too caught up in how wide the straps are or how far over the shoulder they go; same goes for shoes. If you want to say no flip flops, then say ‘no flip flops’. There’s a difference between thong sandals and flip flops and it’s not that hard to figure out. I advise employees if they’re not sure just bring a sweater or a “shrug” along for that sleeveless shirt and maybe a backup pair of shoes – better yet, if they’re not sure then don’t wear it. Remind your employees that appropriateness is at the company’s discretion – not theirs.

Give examples.

Keep it simple. For instance, I recently incorporated a few PowerPoint slides as part of a larger presentation with photos of summer attire. Some had green check marks and others had red x-marks on them. I also retold the story of my former supervisor Roseanne and her advice: if you would be comfortable on the beach it’s not appropriate at work.

This is true all year round: Don’t allow your dress code to be used as a weapon of discrimination. Go back and take a look at my previous dress code entry for more information.

Banish the fashion police.

The overall thing to remember is that you want to keep your dress code simple – what you don’t want to do is draft something so onerous and detailed that you have to deputize your supervisors as fashion police just to keep up.

Have a great summer!