BLUF: My site needs to develop and implement a dress code for employees.

I work in aerospace in an electronic repair shop located in the Pacific Northwest.
As such, I have a large population of electronic technicians who have grown used to a very casual dress code over the past several years.
We have several people who feel very comfortable wearing gym clothes, t-shirts (of the undershirt variety) as a top layer, shorts, etc.
I have a meeting next Friday, January 9th, to begin the discussions of developing a dress code.
I am asking if anyone out there has a dress code that I could use as an example for what this should look like.
We have been unable to find anything official from the company as we believe that they primarily leave this up to each site to manage.
Here are some of the items I have set up for discussion:
• Gym attire
• Grooming standards
• Headphone use
• Ball caps
• Shorts
• Shoe type
• Short/skirt length and type
• Definition of undergarments

Any help with this is greatly appreciated.

DiSC 7121

donm's picture
Training Badge

I have several workshops under my direction. When I was hired at this company, I immediately implemented the requirement that everyone wear appropriate protective attire. We will be opening the electronics repair laboratory within the next three months. I have had discussions with the supervisor (already hired; acquiring training specific to our industry) about the attire. I have already found and am procuring laboratory coats such as you might see a doctor wear; long sleeves, button-up with a belt/tie sewn in place; knee length, more or less. I see this as a safety issue. Splashed solder, burst capacitors, exploding lightbulbs and similar shrapnel-producing mishaps can all happen even with low-power electronics. If you don't believe this, then just look up "exploding cell phones" on google. I also insist every one of my directs and subs wear safety glasses except in the office environment, which will include the electronics work benches. Headphones are banned outright, in all locations. No open-toed shoes allowed in any company facilities. Safety shoes or toe-caps in all work areas, which would include the electronics laboratory. So, for safety reasons, I'd put the kibosh on the attire you describe immediately. I just don't see it as safe. I do not have a dress code, though. I have safety requirements, which includes appropriate and safe attire.

leanne's picture
Licensee Badge

This may sound dumb, but...

Why do you need to make a dress code? You say 'my site needs to' but you don't explain *why* you need to.

I get that they're not wearing 'professional attire'. What I don't get is why that's a problem that needs to be addressed with a policy.

Once you know what problem you're trying to solve, *then* you can come up with a dress code that makes sense to solve that problem.

I'm in a position where I'm sometimes in front of customers and sometimes not, and when we're not, we're allowed to wear jeans and whatever. I don't have to wear a suit in front of customers but I do need to step up from jeans. I don't wear jeans most days, others do; then again I get in front of customers more than a lot of others do.

What is the problem that you're trying to solve? That's something to focus on. E.g., safety gear is *of course* critical. So is clothing that is anti-safety - I'm thinking long flowing scarves when you're dealing with sparks, for instance.

Smacquarrie's picture

Here are the reasons for the dress code:
• Growing site – went from 130 employees to 200 in 6 months
• Creating a showcase site for customers – Several airlines and outside agencies come through our site every year to see what we do and to audit us
• Jeans should be the norm but several people wear shorts and gym attire – this does not properly project the image we are looking for
• None of this is from a concern but rather about the image that we present to visitors (internal and external) to our site
We are an electronic repair center that works on cockpit control devices. Our work includes the use of various chemicals, soldering, and probing “live” units. Some of the voltage in these units can exceed 25k volts.
Right now, we have PPE requirements around safety glasses and glove use for various activities.
I would like to have a policy that prohibits gym attire and promotes the wearing of more professional, albeit casual, wear for our technicians and support staff.
Currently, everyone other than leadership can wear whatever they like (no policy) and several wear sweat pants, board shorts, jean shorts, track suits, and jeans. Shirts come in a variety of styles.
As we groom individuals for more responsibilities, they are coached on dressing appropriately for the position they want.
The leadership team typically wear slacks and either button up shirts or polo’s with a more relaxed standard for Fridays.
I am the exception to this as I run the Safety and Facilities department.

I have recently had a few new employees start who have commented on the relaxed dress code and mentioned that were surprised at what some people wore to work.
We have also had complaints from some of the employees who were uncomfortable having someone in sweats standing next to them while they were sitting. It put certain aspects at eye level which made them uncomfortable.

I hope this helps to explain where we are and where I am trying to get us.

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

Good day,

When faced with this situation I phrase as if you would wear to gym, beach or gardening then you do not wear to work.  Also, if you are considering an outfit and you are uncertain if it is ok then default that it's not, to be on the safe side.  I think then using the O3s to clarify with managers and waterfall from there.  Saying this I also agree with leanne that you need to understand what the dress code needs to be and then just implement it.  If it really doesn't matter what they wear then focus on other parts of the business, but as you point out it may matter to external parties then use this as the start of the communication with employees.

Keep us posted on how it goes!


mrreliable's picture

An employer has every right to implement a reasonable dress code. If people have become accustomed to wearing pajamas, you will need to be careful with implementation.

You seem apprehensive, looking for rationale and backup. In my opinion you don't need either.

You've identified safety and image as the main factors with implementing a dress code. Safety is a no-brainer. Image is not much more complicated.

If your customers will see your workers, they will make an impression. Does it matter if it's a good impression or a bad impression?

If you were evaluating two workshops, one operated by people with haphazard dress, shorts, flimsy gym wear, sandals, scraggly hair and the other operated by well-groomed people with a uniform polo shirt and slacks, which would make a better impression on you? Which would give the impression of people who take their work seriously, as opposed to taking an aggressively casual approach? It could be argued that "It doesn't matter what we look like, we're doing a good job," but that argument wouldn't have merit in a case where image is an important factor.

Make sure when you implement the dress code you do it in an assertive, confident manner.

Smacquarrie's picture

This may have become a moot point.
I have tentatively accepted another position in my company that will require me to relocate.
As I am the one who identified this issue and have been the driving force behind it.