How To Talk To The Employee Who’s Turning Heads At The Office
Tube tops. Flip-flops. Hiking boots. Uggs. Most of us who don these items reserve them for weekends, but some bold dressers wear them to the office.
No matter how casual a company interprets “business casual,” there are reasons these pieces are often banned in company dress codes: Not only are they are distracting and can interfere with productivity, but they can be hazardous to your health.
“Flip-flops are something I’ve had to address at a number of companies during the summer,” says Julie Haltom, a team member at Andcor Companies who has 15 years experience in human resources leadership. “It’s considered a hazard because the rubber [sole] can bend and you can trip and fall into things. And it’s just considered unprofessional to have your feet barely covered.”
Most companies include a dress code in their employee policies and procedures manual, which is given to every new hire. Haltom calls this “setting your employees up for success.”
Still, addressing the offending employee can be touchy. Haltom suggests having either HR or the employee’s direct supervisor pull them aside privately, and stresses it’s important to put a positive spin on it. Something like this: “I know it’s fun to wear the clothing that you have on right now. However, because of the policies and procedures that have already been set, it’s really not acceptable.” Then the supervisor can either send the employee home to change, or simply ask them not to wear that item in the future.
In Haltom’s experience, “Sometimes the employee would turn bright red or be embarrassed or be angry. But I never met anybody that repeated the mistake.”
Haltom also offers these tips:
Do: Be gentle. Have a sense of humor about it.
Send occasional companywide e-mails reminding everyone of the dress code. For instance: “Reminder: You can wear jeans, but you can’t wear jeans with holes in them.”
Don’t: Embarrass the employee by singling out him or her in front of others. Instead, take him or her aside and talk privately.