HR · 7 August 2017

A third of workers call for end to formal corporate dress codes

Groom close-up of hands
Company dress codes are becoming more flexible

Just over a third of workers in the UK believe employers should put an end to formal workplace dress codes and encourage staff to wear more casual clothes instead, new research has found.

In a poll of more than 1,200 British workers, another 37 per cent of staff said that dressing smart at work had become outdated, with almost half of those polled saying they thought dress codes would become more casual and relaxed in the future.

Surprisingly, many younger workers were found to most enjoy following a workplace dress code. Some 67 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds said they actually enjoyed an enforced dress code, compared with 69 per cent of workers aged between 55 to 64.

Employees aged between 35 and 44 were the least likely to see the benefit of formal dress codes, with 43 per cent of staff from this group opting to ditch them altogether.

Commenting on the survey results, Lee Biggins the managing director of recruitment site CV Library, which commissioned the research, said that they provided interesting evidence of changing workplace priorities for UK professionals.

“We now have more flexibility in what we can wear to work and if your workplace has the option, then stick to what feels best for you,” he added.

“Dress codes mean different things to different people: some people prefer to dress smart, while others see it as a perk to be able to wear more casual clothes.”

When asked why they thought traditional work dress codes had become outdated, the top reason given by respondents was that it made people feel uncomfortable, followed by the fact that dress codes didn’t allow people to show off their real personalities at work and because style continues to change.

Although the number of UK workers urging employers to do away with dress codes has grown, there was nonetheless a significant proportion who thought some form of workplace dress code was still necessary.

The reasons given by respondents who still favoured formal dress codes included that they made staff look more professional for customers (56 per cent), and they felt more professional while at work (26 per cent).

A further 2.4 per cent of respondent workers said that dressing in a smarter way made them more productive during working hours.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.


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