The Workplace - May 2019

The Workplace - Guy HaywardWhy dress down on a Friday when we should be able to dress down every day? And why business casual when surely, we should be able to wear what we choose… including jeans and even shorts in the summer? I agree with my first point and I’m becoming increasingly convinced of my second.

I love one of Google’s principle philosophies: ‘You can be serious without a suit’. It speaks volumes for how the company’s ‘casual culture’ has evolved and contributed so much to their success and employer brand. It’s an employer brand that now serves them so well, with the ability to have choice and hire the very best. A desired outcome surely for us all.

I’m intrigued why companies would stick to formal dress codes. ‘Your clothes reflect your company and influence your brand identity’ is often the answer you hear. I would think what reflects better is your ability to deliver… to meet the demands of your clients, along with high levels of service quality. This doesn’t require a suit – and if it is face to face, I can’t imagine that anyone would choose to wear flipflops. Broadly speaking, we all know instinctively what is right to wear.

With a third of UK workers saying that their company has started to adopt casual dress codes in the office I wonder if our industry, that we love so much, has been left behind here. What is clear is that what you wear to work is meaning less and less; it is possible to be promoted, influence people and make deals without being suited and booted.

As proven at Google, this attitude towards dress plays a role in talent attraction. We know it does when hiring at Goodman Masson and we know that Goldman Sachs took the bold decision to enter the world of casual dress for their technology and engineering staff because of competition for talent. Why don’t we all do this? It could be rather liberating.

As a CEO of a long-standing client said to me recently: “Thank the Lord we have moved on from pin-striped suits and bowler hats. The working environment has changed in so many ways, yet the change in dress code takes it still further. My people express themselves in their own personal way and I have no doubt they are more relaxed and engaged.”

My parents don’t understand it – my dad definitely doesn’t – but in today’s world of the modern workplace, going to work in what you feel good in really is a must. And we’re not talking about a casual Friday that started out as Aloha Friday in Hawaii all those years ago.

Guy Hayward – redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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