Dress Codes

Topic Views - 476

People Manager

Teletech Uk Ltd

Dress Codes
Does it matter what you wear to work?
Antone have any theories or case studies?

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More specifics
Yes it does matter. It is very dependent on the country you are referring to.

I assume you mean the UK.

>>>Anyone have any theories or case studies?

Yes there are plenty of case studies and a good deal of law - seriously plenty. Please be more specific and I'll endeavour to help.


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Case studies
Case studies, (All based under UK law)

In the case of Smith v Safeway plc [1996] IRLR 456, CA, Mr Smith, a delicatessen assistant in a supermarket, claimed sex discrimination. Safeways required both male and female food handlers to wear hats and both sexes were prohibited from having 'unconventional' hairstyles. However, the rules on hair length were different for men and women: women were permitted to have long hair as long as they tied it back; men, however, could not let their hair grow below collar length. Mr Smith was dismissed when he refused to have his hair cut. The Court of Appeal held that the prohibition of ponytails for male employees did not constitute less favourable treatment, for the same conventional standards were applies to both sexes. In their view a code that applies a conventional standard of appearance is not of itself discriminatory.

Thompson v The Department for Work and Pensions 2003, ET again highlighted the issue of dress codes and was widely reported in the press. Mr Thompson was employed at a Job Centre Plus office in Stockport that had recently introduced a dress code requiring staff to dress in a professional and business like manner. Mr Thompson complained that the dress code was applied differently to men and women with only men being required to wear a specific item of clothing (a tie) whereas women were actually allowed to dress in a more casual manner (Mr Thompson referred to a woman being allowed to work in a football top). In addition, only male employees were threatened with a fine for failing to wear a specified item of clothing and/or disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The employer sought to justify the dress code on the basis that it was seeking to improve the service to the public and provide a professional level of service likened to that of a bank or building society. The tribunal considered that the requirement for men to wear a tie and the absence of any requirement for women to wear specified items of clothing amounted to less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex. The imposition of the dress code was not itself unlawful, rather the difference in the application of that to each sex amounted to unlawful sex discrimination. The Department for Work and Pensions is appealing against the decision.

In the case of Stoke-on-Trent Community Transport v Cresswell 1993 (unreported, EAT 359/93) the EAT found that a female employee dismissed for wearing trousers, in breach of the respondent's dress code, was directly discriminated against in circumstances where the employers imposed no equivalent dress or appearance rule on male employees.

A male employee has insisted that under the Human Rights Act 1998 he has the right to wear his hair in a pony tail. This is in breach of our company's dress and appearance policy.

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. The European Court of Human Rights has held that this may include the right of an individual to express themselves by means of the way they dress. However, an employer may be able to argue that any restriction is justified for the protection of 'the reputation or rights of others'. This will include the reputation of the business itself.

Employers should not assume this right, however, as they will have to justify any restrictions. It is likely that flexibility will be required or an employee may be found to have been unfairly dismissed by supporting his claim with reference to Article 10. There are possible claims under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 if the dress code differentiates between men and women without justification. There are also possible claims under the Race Relations Act 1976 for indirect discrimination if the dress code is more difficult to comply with on the grounds of ethnic cultural requirements.



People Manager

Teletech Uk Ltd

Dress Code -Casual Dress as opposed to Business Dress
What I want to know is:

(1) Does dress code adversley affect the way people deliver in their job in this environment?
(2) Is it found to effect productivity?
(3) Does it inadvertently affect the way individuals behave i work?
(4) What is the most common Dress Code Polcies in the Call Centre Industry? and why?

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A Casual approach is not recommended
David,

Firstly I'd recommend that legal compliance takes precedence above all other considerations.

The application of different clothing or appearance rules to men and women can give rise to claims of sex discrimination. Case law demonstrates that courts have been willing to accept certain conventional standards of dress that would affect whether an employer's requirement was reasonable or whether the employee has been subjected to a detriment. Restrictions imposed do not have to be identical for both sexes as long as they relate to conventional standards or other non-discriminatory grounds eg a requirement for health and safety reasons. In the future, with the introduction of legislation making it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief (due December 2003) employers will also have to give careful consideration to any potential religious discrimination arising out of dress codes in the workplace and review their policies accordingly.

In the UK the imposition of a dress code (albeit casual - it becomes a stated dress code) is also an alteration of the employees terms and conditions as such this should be taken into account when altering their contractual terms. Indeed you might find that the number of claims for "wear and tear, rips and stains" increases when staff wear their own clothes.

That said (although I have been unsuccessful in tracking them down) there are several studies and reports that suggest that not wearing a suit in certain situations has a positive effect on morale - and by implication productivity. Tony Blair himself described having to wear a suit at all times as 'one of the tyrannies of modern life'. I doubt you will find any call centre specifics instead more anecdotal feedback.

All in all, I feel you are looking at the problem the wrong way. Most HR departments will tell you that dress code is a matter of company policy and culture (frequently with a basis in safety) not a matter of productivity or behaviour. Call centres are no different to any other industry in this regard, their dress code's being the same as most major clerical based UK employers.
Although call centres are frequently subject to more criticism regarding working methods and regimes, the imposition of a dress code to maximise productivity is certainly one of the alarm bells that the advocates of "sweat shops, dark satanic mills of the 20th century" would certainly seize upon to ring.......that's if the staff don't beat them to it.

Account Manager

Business Systems UK

Dress Codes
Hi There

My Observation are

If you are working on the phone it does not matter whether you are wearing a suit or casual clothes i wear a suit out of preferance because i have done it for many years and i like them
However i have worked in casual clothes and to be honest it did not make a blind bit of difference as to how effective my work effort was infact i would go as far to say i felt a bit more relaxed
It also depends on a companies working philosphy as to the way they want to present themselves to the world ie customers visiting the office and wanting to make a good impression to an organisation where there are no customer visiting where caual wear would be ok
There performance and suceess are in the person and not the clothes at the end of the day
Look at Richard Branson with his famous jumpers did what he was wearing stop him from becoming one of the richest men in the UK?(i don,t think so)

Hope this is of help

Kind Regards

John Nutley

Senior Operations Manager

West Corporation

I disagree
I have found, through personal experience as a Manager, and as an Agent, that the way employees dress in a call center, does impact their work overall..


Back in the late 1990's, our company finally broke down, and allowed the Agents on the floor to start to dress more casually. Jeans, T-Shirts, etc... And over the next 6 - 8 months, the overall attitude of the employees, Quality of Customer Service, Productivity, and general Attendance dipped dramatically..

The only thing that had changed, was the dress code.


We then moved back to a more strict, but quite as strict dress code, allowing Agents to wear khaki pants, dress shirts (no tie), and requiring the ladies to wear hose/socks, and no backless shoes...


And all of those metrics came back in line...


Quite simply, if you present the job as a hobby, that is what the employee will treat it as...

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Empirical proof?
The only thing that had changed, was the dress code.

Did you measure staff moral?
Did you measure management culture changes?
Did you measure management attitude to quality enforcement?

Studies evidence that it is not one single factor that impacts staff attitudes by 'enforcing' a strict dress code management 'enforced' a stronger management culture thus I suggest it wasnt the clothing per se more the overall management style that went with (or without) it. With casual clothing comes casual management unless recognised and addressed at the outset.

Operations Manager (owner)

PartnerCall

business casual
Whilst I don't have proof etc. I have found that looking for a happy medium tends to work.

We have introduced business casual which would have males wearing a collared business shirt but no tie etc. It was set up in consultation with staff which gave them buy in and has made it easier to manage.

Hope this helps

Paul

Collection Supervisor

USA Collections

Casual Vs Business
Hi Everyone,

I handle a team of 15 employees and yes I agree that dress code do have an effect on the employee morale and performance.
But if I see the way the call center industry is setup most of the workforce is young and does dislike wearing formal clothes to a certain extent, in order to solve this problem we asked employees to come in business casuals Monday - Thursday and they can wear casuals Friday – Sunday and this is working for us.

Take Care
Ragards,
Ravi


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Dress codes - Western assumptions
I note there seems to be an assumption here that 'business dress'= formal type shirt (with or without tie) for men and presumably dress/skirt or trousers plus top for ladies.

I cannot reiterate how important it is to stay within the law on dress codes, the assumption above is based on a Western style of dress. It is perfectly acceptable for employees in the UK to dress on cultural or religious grounds eg Saris, Turbans etc providing Health and safety issues are not compromised. To enforce a dress code otherwise is discriminatory - that's the law.

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

dress smart / think smart ?!?
I often hear the phrase "dress smart / think smart" thrown at me, no doubt due to my liberal interpretation of "business casual" in an area that refuses to let go the shirt & tie...

WHAT A SCARY CONCEPT!!!

Does this mean there are literally thousands of people who stagger around in the mornings unable to access their years of training and education and experience just because they haven't got dressed yet?

Here's an image for you... if I work from home I often sit there in my dressing gown drinking coffee and hammering away at my thoughs for hours before I actually get dressed - and yet somehow the work I produce is no worse drivel than my suited & booted effort - sorry that picture is not a pretty one so I'm gonna leave it there!

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Cutting off old ties?................
The annual report published by the Employment Tribunals Service (UK) says applications to employment tribunals have risen by 17 per cent last year.
There was a 76 per cent increase in sex discrimination cases, from 8,128 in 2002-03 to 14,284 in 2003-04. Due largely to 7,000 applications from Jobcentre Plus staff complaining about having to wear ties to work.

The TUC says that the increase in applications showed that employers were still failing to respect their employees and the law.

Anyone still have trouble with dress code or has this subject become less contentious within the workplace?

CSR

MCCI

Dress codes...
I have no studies to refer to, but I can tell you what I've seen in my own call center. Bear in mind, I'm just a lowly CSR, so my views are from the very bottom level.

The company I work for has a "business casual" dress code. In Canada, this means khakis are allowed, ties are not required, hats, jeans, shorts, running shoes and sandals are strictly taboo as are t-shirts with ANY writing on them at all.

We've been having a serious attendance issue in recent months. In fact, attendance has always been a serious issue. We're an outsourcer, and we seldom meet our attendance metric. In July, management adopted casual dress for the month with the incentive that if attendance metrics were met for July, we would continue to be allowed casual dress for the month of August. The only real difference is that we were allowed to wear jeans, shorts of a reasonable length and running shoes, even sport sandals (though no flip-flops for safety reasons).

We met our attendance metric for July, the first time this had happened since I started there in March. We've since met our attendance metric for every month, and are still maintaining our "casual dress" allowance. Granted, we're just barely squeaking by on the metric, but it IS an improvement.

There had been, and still remains in effect, a monetary attendance incentive of $100 for every CSR who makes it through 4 consecutive weeks with no more than one attendance occurance. I cannot for the life of me fathom why the casual dress incentive worked where the monetary incentive failed, but it did. It seems people in this town are more likely to come to work if they can wear jeans. Go figure. Personally, I'm still wearing dress clothes to work, though I have taken advantage of the casual allowance to wear jeans on laundry day a time or two, hehe.

So there you have it. The view from the bottom.

Service Delivery Manager

Telecom NZ

Monetary Incentive for attendance
Hi everyone, this is my first post although I frequently 'tune in' to this site as the discussions and opinions expressed are enthralling stuff! Personally I find it defies belief that people are incentivised with $ for basic attendance. I would have thought this money would have been better channelled towards productivity bonuses, where at least there is some return. If attendance is an issue then surely the reasons for that should be addressed instead of chucking money at people just to turn up.

Just my humble view, now to crawl back into the shadows again.

Director

Reynard Thomson Ltd.

Shadows...??
"now to crawl back into the shadows again"

No, Peter, stay awhile and chat - we'd welcome your views on this and many other topics!

John

Service Delivery Manager

Telecom NZ

Dress code
I know I strayed off the topic there, apologies. In my experience dress code issue is something that can come down to company image and also if clients are regularly on site. I used to run programs for 5 star hotels and we regularly had senior hotel management and clients visiting our sales office and therefore had to fall in line with the hotel 'image', which is fair enough. However I do not believe it makes any difference how they are dressed - within reason of course - as long as they are productive. That comes down to effective management of the staff in all areas of the business.

Service Delivery Manager

MXDigital

From the other side of the fence
In my job - I get to visit many call centres - and almost without exception - a very casual dress code is in place.
That being said, there are often a few agents who continue to dress in collar & tie / female equivalent.
Pretty much, these are the better performing agents. Whether they are better performing because they dress smarter, or dress smarter because they are better performing I cannot say.
Richard

Real-time Resource Analyst

Leading Canadian

My experiences
Our TSRs have a extremely relaxed "business casual" dress code.

All management recently moved to "business dress" inc. dress shirt and tie. The tie requirement was dropped after a few days but it is still mandatory for my Resource department.

Personally, I prefer to wear a shirt and tie. I find it does increase my productivity, or at least I feel like it does.

Also, as an ex-pat Brit living in Canada - I was surprised how many guys don't know how to tie a tie here lol :)

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

Dan - dodgy dress code application
>>>>The tie requirement was dropped after a few days but it is still mandatory for my Resource department

Other people will know more about this but...

That sounds like a deffinitely dodgy application of company policy. Has anyone tried to ignore/enforce the ties policy in the Resource department? I think it would be interesting to see the justification that showed that the Resource department should be subject to dress code rules that differ to other, non customer facing, roles.

This sounds to me like a discrimination case waiting to happen! If I worked in your area I would leave off the tie & prepare for war...

Director

Reynard Thomson Ltd.

I hate ties...
(when forced into wearing them against my will - they're ok if I so choose to wear them however).

Anyway, this was a useless reply to your topic just to try and budge the paging error that I keep promising to fix and never do. Sorry about that, I'll crawl back into my coding cellar now...

John

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

John's ties
œ50 - 2 weeks wages ;o) - says John owns at least 1 of the following ties:

Garfield
Wallace & Grommit
Simpsons

Plus one 'musical' or 'light-up' number

come on John... 'fess up!

Supervisor

NA

Tie 'em down
I know i am a little off it but i got a Beavis & Butthead tie :)
Total ownage.

Telemarketing Manager

CCT

Tie 'em down
My mother bought me an Andy Capp tie for Xmas about 10 years ago, she said one day it would be a collectors item.

Obviously I have never worn it.

Jason

MIS

AlgoRhythm

Tongue Tied
I've got one which has got cartoon condoms all over them, look like lill ghosts, thats what my boss thought.. Good For Him

Call Centre Manager

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clothes
back to work next week for me (Maternity leave over) so will have to wear proper work type clothes after seven months of jeans and t-shirts

At least men can get away with a couple of suits, or even just trousers, shirt and tie. I'm sure people would notice if I just alternated the same couple of skirts and shirts. Shirt and tie may feel boring but I would prefer not to have to think too much about what I wear in the mornings to go to work!

Call Centre Manager

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collectors items
Andy cap tie on ebay for 99p - now if only she had bought you the Andy Capp toast rack you could be looking at œ8!

Z

Director

Reynard Thomson Ltd.

Dylan's Foolish Gamble...
Dylan, you lose. Please make the cheque payable to...

John (who does admit to a Bugs Bunny tie, however ;-)

CC Operations Design Specialist

Financial Services

Cheque is being sent...
along with sincere apology for subverting an otherwise perfectly sensible thread *grin*

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