Dress code violations are a special pain you will encounter as a people manager. As reported in Maclean’s this past week, summer can be the worst time for employees taking business casual too far: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/07/13/flip-flops-at-the-office/
Unfortunately, flip flops aren’t the most egregious violation you might face.
Clothes too casual? Yep, I’ve had that one many times.
Too much cleavage? I’ve had that conversation so often I’ve lost count.
Shorts too short? Low-hanging pants too low? Obscene shirts? Yep. Yep. And yep.
But those still don’t come close to being the worst. My two favourites in the “no, you can’t wear that” hall of fame are from my call centre days. The first story comes courtesy of a colleague who had an employee show up in a t-shirt with the words “Lick It” in loud letters and a giant arrow pointing straight down to her crotch. Subtle, I know. She was of course very surprised to learn this was not acceptable work wear.
The second hall-of-famer came to work in a sheer, completely see-through dress. No bra. Black thong.
I’ve never seen so many men run into pillars and cubicle walls.
If you are an employee out there who hates being told what to wear, I promise I hate having to explain your wardrobe violations to you even more. Please just make an appropriate choice and save us all some embarrassment.
For a people manager looking for advice on this particular topic, make sure the conversation is private. Keep it brief. Tell the employee the clothing is not an appropriate work choice and suggest they don’t wear it back to the office. With a smart employee, one conversation will suffice. With the slow ones, be prepared to have the same conversation over and over.
I had one employee whose low-rider jeans were constantly falling down, giving everyone around him an eyeful of his briefs. He never got the message. When we fired him for other reasons, his pants were still around his knees.
If you are a new manager and you think bad clothing choices are the most embarrassing thing you’ll ever have to discuss with a staff member, you haven’t had the pleasure of a smelly employee. But that conversation is for another blog post.