Something that I’ve noticed creeping back into the news recently is the declining workforce standards and the dress code debate.
Seems that whenever a ‘standards are slipping’ or ‘workforce motivation’ piece is aired, this non-argument pops up at some point. Firstly I find it really frustrating that this is portrayed as a black & white argument and secondly that there seems to be a continous stream of Captains of Industry who delight in apportioning the decline of workforce standards to dress code.
The only standards that seem to be declining here are that of reasoned debate. I have yet to see any commentator produce any proof that a) standards really are declining in the workplace and b) relaxed dress code has anything to do with it, if indeed they are.
The problem with all this is it’s perception based. The workforce and indeed the workplace are drastically different places than they were even a few years ago. Technology has played it’s part, but theres also been massive social change. I often get the impression that its really down to this ‘if I had to suffer and where a suit in the workplace than you do too’. Lets take a step back a minute, are we really trying to say that clothes define whether you are efficient at your job, really? in what sphere of reasoning is a man wearing jeans less likely to produce results than a man wearing pinstrip trousers.
Thats not to say that we should abandon all pretence of smartness. That would be idiotic; but we must realise that it’s our expectations which drives that neccessity, it has absolutely nothing to do with efficiency and standards. we expect the Bank manager to dress smart, we expect the Lawyer to be suited but would they really be any less able if they didn’t wear a tie?
I heard one particularly idiotic comment the other day, trying to relate a decline in standards to the abandonment of public service uniforms. Lets be clear, uniforms don’t enter into this argument. They serve a completely different purpose and really are not in anyway related.
Personally I enjoy the fact I work for a company that has a relaxed attitude to attire; and do you know why? Because it makes getting up in the morning and getting dressed a non-issue, I haven’t got to go out my way to buy clothes I wouldn’t normally buy. I haven’t got to devote any time to it, I can just get to work and get stuff done.