It does not seem that long ago that the typical insurance agency office was full of men in suits and ties and women in skirts, blouses, and nylons. There has been a substantial shift over the last three decades to a much more casual approach. The push from employees to allow for an even more casual and laid-back dress code in the office continues.
There is no right or wrong way to write a dress code, but here are few things to consider when modernizing your company policy on acceptable attire.
Culture over tradition – The truth is that attire in general in most business sectors has relaxed considerably. Each generation that enters the workforce is a little (or a lot) more casual than the preceding one, and it is apparent in every aspect of their lifestyle. This desire for a more casual way of doing things shows up in their expectations for work. As tech startups encourage a much more laid-back office setting, this mindset has found its way into the insurance industry. While the suit and tie, dresses, and heels are traditional, they’re not necessarily attractive to the future members of the insurance workforce.
Creating a culture that offers flexibility when it comes to everyday wardrobe choices will make the agency more attractive to new talent. It provides room for employees to assert their personal style. It’s also an opportunity to show the agency focuses more on developing good employees less on ironing khakis every morning. Focusing on the person as opposed to the wardrobe will help agencies and identify those critical factors when it comes to whether an individual can do the job.
Some occasions may call for different attire than others – Not all work situation demands the same outfit. If an agent is going to visit a client who operates a quarry, a suit is not necessarily going to be the appropriate dress for the occasion. Some clients may be uncomfortable with certain types of dress. Going to a dirty job site in a 3-piece suit may be intimidating to the client, while a polo shirt and jeans could provide a sense of ease and relatability to the client. However, a meeting with the president of a large bank may have different expectations of the level of professional dress. Being able to understand and adapt to the situation with appropriate wardrobe choices is essential to connect with clients.
And if you choose a more laid back look for every day in the office, but may need employees to dress up for specific events or visitors in the office, it’s important to make sure these expectations are clear to all staff.
Develop a Written Policy – Providing flexibility without creating a free for all is critical and developing a written policy that strikes that balance is necessary. With the right guidelines in place, employers can have a policy that does not require micromanaging. It also calls employees to utilize good judgment and common sense when choosing work attire.
Well-designed dress policies will hit major “do’s and don’ts” of acceptability while still giving employees flexibility and freedom to choose what is comfortable, acceptable and makes them feel good. A policy can be vague while still providing clear ground rules that allow HR and supervisors to address problems and provide guidance for employees if they question something.
While there are certainly a lot of traditions worth keeping, an outdated dress code may not be one of them. Using the information above will help you evaluate what is the right fit for your agency.
For more on this topic, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below: