Conference Paper

Employee Appearance and Productivity: The Beatification of Workplace Dress Codes

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Abstract

The issue of workplace appearance and dress codes has been debated and, in recent times, confounded by controversies among employers, employees, governments, and other stakeholders. Most employers uphold workplace dress codes as an important heritage of their organisations and chastise employees for non-conformity with these standards. This article investigates the impact of dress codes on employee performance and the employees’ standpoints on dress codes. Drawing on 28 semi-structured interviews with employees from a bank, two law firms, and a construction company, the research reveals that except for employees who work in construction, dress codes do not enhance employee performance. Furthermore, employees often feel stifled and uncomfortable cladded in suits, shirts, and high heels for long hours. The article concludes by imploring organisations to accord employees the autonomy to dress comfortably at work and not to canonise a particular dress code.

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