What's the Appropriate Dress Code for the Summer Heat?


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, July 17, 2017

Maintaining a professional dress code is important, but it can make employees uncomfortable and less productive during the warm summer months.

Article 3 Minutes
What's the Appropriate Dress Code for the Summer H

Dress codes can be hugely beneficial for companies, ensuring that staff always look presentable and can make the best impression when meeting clients or customers. However, when the weather heats up, they can also mean workers end up feeling uncomfortable, even with the air conditioning on full blast.

While it is important to project a professional image at all times, your dress code also needs to take into account the challenges that warm weather can raise for workers. After all, feeling too warm can hamper productivity and see efficiency waiver, which can be detrimental to your company.

Allowing for changes to the dress code based on the season will ensure that employees still abide by it, feel comfortable and don't have their work negatively affected by the weather. However, you do need to consider what is still considered to be appropriate workplace attire.

Impact on operations and safety

Two of the biggest areas you need to look at when creating an appropriate dress code for the summer months are company operations and overall safety. You need to ensure that any allowances made during the summer in the name of comfort don't affect how people do their jobs or result in safety issues.

For example, you can't allow people to wear sandals or open-toe shoes if there is a risk of injury to their feet during their normal working day, as this could leave you liable in the case of an accident. Looking at safe and practical options for the dress code will ensure your rules are appropriate and that staff can better cope with the heat.

Special accommodations

Certain aspects of your summer dress code may not be appropriate for all staff members, especially if some employees work in different environments. Those who work outside or who are often out of the office visiting clients may be more susceptible to the heat compared to those who primarily work in an air-conditioned environment.

You also might want to consider your stance on visible tattoos in the workplace and how a summer dress code may be more revealing of previously hidden body art.

You may also have workers who rarely deal with customers and so may not need to stick to a strict dress code at all times. All of this means that different rules and safety requirements may need to be considered based on the various departments in your company.

Reflection on the company

Every aspect of your dress code is a reflection on your company and this needs to be remembered. As such, you won't want to go from suits to shorts and t-shirts for the summer months as this will fail to represent the usual professional tone of the company.

You need to consider how summer clothing might make your business look, assessing both the positive and negative impact. If you're unsure about the effect of a more casual dress code for summer, you may want to opt for one fully casual day a week to see if this changes how employees work or the way clients and customers view your company.

If you don't feel able to change the dress code too dramatically, you may want to consider what options you have for making the workplace more comfortable for people, such as providing fans or improving the air conditioning. This way, the summer heat should be less of an issue on a day-to-day basis.

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