Formal dress codes can lead to happier employees, research shows

Research into Britain’s most engaged workplaces has found that almost three quarters of the best companies to work for in the UK have a formal dress code.

40 per cent of the top companies enforce business dress on their employees and a further 30 per cent dress in business casual clothing.

Despite previous studies suggesting that businesses are scrapping the work wear rules, the analysis by Printerland.co.uk found that only 27 per cent of the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For list have a casual or undefined dress code.

The remaining four per cent of companies had a defined uniform.

The factors that go into deciding the Best Companies list include how staff feel about the company they work for, how happy they are with the benefits of the job, and how their wellbeing in work is looked after.

This research was carried out by Printerland.co.uk as part of an in-depth analysis of the psychology of different workplace dress codes alongside expert on the matter, fashion psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair.

Carolyn weighed in on the benefits of wearing business dress such as a suit in the workplace, saying “wearing a suit has been found to make the wearer appear more professional and competent. The power of belief is strong, so if the wearer believes that the suit will make them appear more competent and professional, they may well behave that way.”

However, she also claims that as remote working and shared offices continue to increase in popularity, the casual dress code will only become more common.

Her comments on casual dress codes also indicate that they may be preferable in more creative industries where “leaders and managers are likely to wear similar clothes to their subordinates which flattens out any organisational hierarchy.”

Catherine Bannan, HR Director of Printerland.co.uk, said:

“We were surprised to see that business dress codes were so popular in the best companies to work for, but our findings show that there is more to a formal dress code than just keeping up appearances.”

This survey of the top 100 companies to work for was part of wider research by Printerland.co.uk into the effects dress codes have on productivity and how people are viewed in the workplace.

Other highlights of the research include an insight into how wearing symbolically relevant attire can actually increase performance, a look at what colours are best to wear when you want to be seen a certain way, and what high-profile business leaders are saying with the way they dress.


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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. This article (and the one it is based on) assumes that correlation equals causation, which is not true. As an HR Manager in one of the Top 100 Companies referred to, I know that we have a business/business casual dress code, but it is something that our employees do not like and would prefer to be changed!

  2. I agree with Rachel – I also work in one of these companies, and the issue of casual dress is raised repeatedly. Many of our employees want to be able to dress down, and feel formal business dress is outdated and restrictive.

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