BUSINESS: personnel pointers
Dress for Success
A written dress code policy for staff creates a professional setting.
TRUDI CHAREST, RO, ABO
Has an employee ever come to your office dressed inappropriately? Seeing an improperly dressed staff member could give patients a negative image of your practice. As the practice owner, you must ensure your patients’ first impression of your practice and staff is a professional one.
Creating specific dress code guidelines for your office creates a professional setting, while reducing internal stress and conflict.
How to create a dress code policy:
1 Decide on appropriate attire.
Outline specifically what you want your staff to wear. A key decision is whether to choose business or business casual. If you elect a business casual dress code, specific guidelines, such as dress pants, sweaters, collared shirts, etc., ensure that the “casual” is not abused.
In addition, include specific items you consider inappropriate, so there is no room for interpretation. This could include wrinkled or torn clothing, flip flops or sandals.
Also, consider uniforms — an easy way to ensure a proper dress code. However, some patients feel uniforms are too clinical and give off an impression of medical only and don’t portray high fashion, which can hurt optical sales.
An example of a written policy on appropriate attire:
► Men: business suit, dress pants, dress shirt, tie, dress shoes
► Women: skirt, dress pants, blouse, blazer, cardigan, dress
► Closed-toed shoes
► Simple accessories, such as jewelry and scarves, permitted
► Eyeglasses recommended (this promotes style and brands)
2 Address exceptions to the rules.
Don’t forget to have a little fun. Casual Fridays are one example of a time you may want to bend the rules for employees. Decide whether this works for your office setting — how would patients react to seeing your employees in jeans? Does it portray a sense of style, or is it too casual?
Another opportunity to stray from your dress code is holidays, such as Halloween, or special events, such as trunk shows.
For each of these occasions, develop specifics to give staff direction on what is appropriate.
3 Discuss the policy with your staff.
When installing the dress code, schedule a staff meeting in which you discuss the policy’s details.
Bring written copies that include an introduction that details the need for a dress code.
For example, “ABC Optometry is setting new dress code guidelines within the practice to ensure a professional impression to patients. Please review the following list of appropriate and inappropriate attire for the workplace, and sign upon agreement and understanding of this new policy.”
Have the staff members sign and date the document to indicate they agree to abide by the new policy (you can reference this, should they not adhere to the policy).
Also, encourage questions and discussion to ensure your staff’s clarification of the policy.
Follow the code.
It’s difficult for a policy to cover all situations, so be prepared to tackle non-adherence to the guidelines.
You’ll help non-compliance by remembering to stick to the dress code yourself. If you don’t, neither will your staff. OM
Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: February 2014, page(s): 58