Back during the 1990s, businesses across the United States eased their dress policies in order to boost morale. Most of these companies kept their traditional “suit and tie” requirement in place from Monday through Thursday, permitting relaxed dress on the last workday of the week. That practice became known as Casual Friday, an event not without controversy.
Flip flops, short shorts, wild hair and hairy legs soon became the talk of the office. If you wondered what someone looked like underneath their business dress, that wonderment soon gave way to full understanding, for better or for worse.
I’m not going to criticize corporate policy, but I will say that Casual Friday could be in for a much needed makeover especially if worker productivity slides with it. Let’s take a look at some ways you can make every day a better day at work:
1. Performance – If the last day of the work week turns out to be “Slacker Friday” then gather the troops and point out the problem. Likely, once everyone realizes that Fridays doesn’t represent a casual disregard for productivity, you’ll have their cooperation in a jiffy.
2. Dress – What sort of dress code do you have for Fridays? Casual shouldn’t mean beach attire, something other workers can find to be immensely distracting. Review your code and set down explicit guidelines for just how relaxed workers should be.
3. Rewards – Perhaps recognizing the “best dress” of the casual set is one way to help people to conform to a certain standard. Why not allow the friendly “fashion police” to determine whose wardrobe looks best and come up with a reward for following company guidelines?
4. Codes – Speaking of the fashion police, why not allow your employees to develop your company’s casual dress policy? With an administrative sign off, of course! They know how people dress and they also know what bothers them. Your current policy may be too vague, relaxed or rigid. Let the team tell you what is needed (see University of South Carolina: Dealing with Dress Codes).
5. Customers – Personnel who work face-to-face with customers may need to keep a certain image in place. Back room workers, on the other hand, should be allowed to dress down. These differences can cause tension between departments, something easily overcome by giving dressed up personnel their own reward.
6. Backups – Encourage everyone to have a backup set of business attire available in the event a customer comes calling or if they must leave the office for a meeting. Yes, you may have to invest in lockers or other storage compartments, but you’ll create goodwill if you help ease the burden on employees of storing their clothes particularly if they take mass transit to work and don’t have a car to use for storage.
7. Causes – One way to bring everyone onboard with Casual Friday is have employees “pay” for the privilege of dressing down, with monies collected going to charity. For example, have employees chip in one dollar every Friday and match those donations with corporate funds. When the month is over, collected funds will be sent to the preselected charity, a “feel good” effort that will be appreciated by all.
Lastly, if Casual Friday just isn’t working out and your employees know the time has come to put it to an end, don’t fret: dressing down isn’t a practice that can be universally applied (see Career Builder: Has Casual Friday Become too Casual?)
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