How to talk to employee about being too casually dressed at work!

(30 Posts)
KateAlexander Thu 08-Nov-18 15:20:47

Hi all
I’m a new manager and my new team member is great except that she dresses far too casually in the office. She’s customer facing and dresses slightly too casually. I think because we’re a design company she’s interpreted those who dress very cool but gone a bit too casual. It’s tricky because some days she looks absolutely fine and some days she is too casual.

I work at home a few days a week but someone has text me today to say she is wearing leggings - so others are noticing. I want to deal with it quietly before it reaches senior management ears - can someone give advice on what to say?

Thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
ScreamingValenta Thu 08-Nov-18 15:22:20

Do you have a written dress code?

KingLooieCatz Thu 08-Nov-18 15:23:38

I'm no HR guru but is there a policy on this that you could just remind everyone of?

It does sound like it might be hard for a new person to work out where "cool" ends and "too casual" begins.

KingLooieCatz Thu 08-Nov-18 15:24:33

Cross post. If you don't have a written dress code you might need to put one together pronto.

ShalomJackie Thu 08-Nov-18 15:24:56

Leggings with a dress or leggings with a waist length t shirt are completely different i wouldn't go off what was told to me only on what I saw. Can you pop in and see for yourself? Then I would just explai that the general code is smart casual or business casual and that some.of her outfits are a bit too casual. However, are you sure she is the only one? Do others wear jeans etc as to me that would be more casual than some leggings?

ILoveAutum Thu 08-Nov-18 15:29:33

Someone actually text you to comment on her leggings? Perhaps that person needs more to think about while at work 🙄...or a life?!

Why not just compliment the outfits you deem appropriate and mention she looks a wee bit too casual when she doesn’t, you don’t have have to make a huge deal out of it.

KateAlexander Thu 08-Nov-18 15:35:32

We do have a written dress code but it’s not massively specific:

you are required to be neat, clean, well groomed and presentable whilst at work, whether working on the company’s premises of elsewhere on company business. The company requires that your dress and appearance reflects the nature of our work and that of our customers and clients

Part of the problem is that the customer service team, for example, are not (in person) customer facing and lots are junior so can be a bit scruffy. But my team are talking to visitors all day so she can’t copy their example confused

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Thu 08-Nov-18 15:37:11

If they have only just started presumably you have regular review meetings as part of their induction so could raise it then. Have they worked in a similar environment before?

donajimena Thu 08-Nov-18 15:37:21

Its nowhere near specific enough.

ScreamingValenta Thu 08-Nov-18 15:45:04

I agree, it isn't specific enough. 'Reflects the nature of our work' could mean anything in the sort of industry you work in. It's unreasonable to expect people to guess what is acceptable when it comes to specific items such as leggings.

I think you need to amend your policy to add a few examples of what would be deemed too casual.

The shortfalls in the current code could be something you acknowledge when you speak to her - in fact, it would be only fair to do so. She's not a mindreader, so it would be unfair to suggest she has done anything wrong.

KateAlexander Thu 08-Nov-18 16:27:27

Yes I’ve raised the policy with our FD as it’s a bit woolly and I know that ultimately our directors are more strict than this policy implies.

Would this be less embarrassing for her if I mentioned it over email? Genuinely thinking of her here - I think I’d rather be told over email where I wouldn’t have to face someone in potential embarrassment! But maybe that isn’t right?

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Thu 08-Nov-18 16:30:26

Think it should be a face to face conversation.

BrokenWing Thu 08-Nov-18 16:32:39

Doesn't need to be embarrassing if you approach it straight on and friendly. Just say to her as she is customer facing she needs to dress a more professionally than the back office. Give examples of leggings, casual t-shirts etc that are out. Maybe apologise for not making it clear in the beginning. If she needs to judge what is okay to watch what her customer facing peers are wearing rather than the back office and if she has any queries or is unsure if something is appropriate just ask.

ScreamingValenta Thu 08-Nov-18 16:35:28

I think face to face is probably better - if she is mortified, she'll have to brood over the email knowing at some point she has to face you.

Can you include some positives in your feedback - e.g. 'the skirt and jacket you were wearing on Tuesday hit just the right note' - that will also help her tailor what she wears in future.

Keeping it factual will help, and avoid any suggestion that others are talking about her behind her back. You could also be impersonal (as this isn't a case of her wilfully disregarding a known code) - 'We don't think leggings project the right image to our clients, so we ask that all customer-facing employees avoid them.'

MargoLovebutter Thu 08-Nov-18 16:37:42

Why not have brief meeting with her and tell her you (or HR) are reviewing the dress code guidance as you think it isn't clear enough. Going forward the policy will state XXXXX and you thought you'd give her the heads up, so she can get aligned with that before it is formalised.

In the meantime tell HR that the policy isn't clear enough and needs to be amended.

Doje Thu 08-Nov-18 16:38:17

It doesn't have to be made into a big thing, especially if she's new. Just grab her, say you need a catch up and say she needs to be a bit smarter as she's customer facing. If you want to, say HR have had a word with you or something.

123rd Thu 08-Nov-18 16:40:50

As PP said, don't email. Next time you are in the office just say to her- do you have five mins for a quick chat?

Don't make it a massive thing in this first instance. And have some examples to hand of what to wear

Racecardriver Thu 08-Nov-18 16:40:59

Could you just send a group email saying that you had recently had questions about the policy and you just wangtto clarify that it means smart casual?

Polarbearflavour Thu 08-Nov-18 17:11:44

What’s wrong with leggings? I wear them in the summer to work under knee length dresses with ballet flats. I’m currently wearing dresses with tights and ankle boots to work. Not sure of the difference?

poorbuthappy Thu 08-Nov-18 17:13:54

Shore up the policy and then send it to everyone alerting them to the alteration.
Do not single her out at this stage.
She's not contravening the woolly policy so I'm not sure exactly what you'd say.

Holidayshopping Thu 08-Nov-18 17:17:41

I would make sure a dress code was written that was worth the paper it’s written on, and then email it out to everyone. Ours is very specific-no spaghetti straps, no flip flops, no denim, no leggings (unless worn with a dress/skirt and to replace tights) etc

PerspicaciaTick Thu 08-Nov-18 17:23:55

Have an informal chat with her, ask.How she is getting on, does she need any additional support etc. Give her a bit of feedback on how you feel she is doing and mention that you expect staff in a customer facing roll to err on the smarter side of the dress code.

Hopefully she will act on what you say, but at least it won't be news to her when you have a more formal review.

NotANotMan Thu 08-Nov-18 17:26:08

If you're her manager then bring it up face to face. Give examples of the outfits that are suitable and give general rules - eg tights but no leggings, shoes not trainers etc

Workreturner Thu 08-Nov-18 17:26:09

Sometimes she dresses ok?

In that case

“I was really pleased to see your outfit last Tuesday; it was the perfect balance of professional whilst unmistakably your style. I feel that going forward I would like to see that more professional look on a daily basis. Let me know if you’d like to chat further”

EvaHarknessRose Thu 08-Nov-18 17:31:35

‘Your work clothes are too casual at times would you like some guidance on what is expected’.

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