When every day is casual Friday
June 19, 2017
• Workplace is trending casual, even for historically more buttoned-up professions
• “Having a casual dress code can be an enticement when recruiting”
Don't expect your accountant to be sporting a tie or business suit. Workplace attire today is trending casual, even for historically more buttoned-up professions like accounting and finance, according to recent surveys by units of the staffing company Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) of Menlo Park.
In its recent survey, Robert Half Finance & Accounting found that 74 percent of chief financial officers said their accounting and finance departments have a somewhat or very casual dress code.
Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) said business attire guidelines have relaxed over the last five years, compared to 16 percent who reported a more formal dress environment.
"Workplaces are evolving and so are office attire trends," says Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald. "Employees often prefer more relaxed attire, and having a casual dress code can be an enticement when recruiting finance and accounting professionals."
But casual dress is causing consternation among some workers, says the other RHI survey.
Although 56 percent of employees surveyed said they prefer to wear more relaxed work attire, four in 10 (41 percent) admitted they're at least sometimes unsure about whether clothing is office-appropriate, according to a survey paid for by OfficeTeam.
Nearly half (48 percent) would choose to eliminate uncertainty altogether by donning a uniform.
• Those ages 18 to 34 (56 percent) have the greatest preference for formal dress codes. They're also most commonly unsure if their clothing is appropriate (54 percent) and the age group with the largest number of respondents interested in wearing a uniform (59 percent).
• More men (54 percent) prefer formal attire than women (30 percent).
• Nearly half of men (48 percent) are at least sometimes confused about whether their apparel is OK for work, compared to 31 percent of women.
• Most employees (86 percent) reported they like casual dress codes because they can wear more comfortable clothes.
• About one in four respondents (23 percent) said their company policy isn't always clear about what attire is acceptable.
Relaxed dress codes aren't an excuse for employees and job seekers to wear whatever they want to work or an interview, however. Robert Half offers tips for dressing appropriately in today's business environment:
→ Look to the next rung
What does your boss — and your boss's boss — wear? Take inspiration from upper management's style and formality. Set yourself up for success by dressing for the job you want.
→ Keep it tidy
Even if you can wear jeans and T-shirts to work, ensure they're clean and wrinkle-free.
→ Don't forget the details
A dress code encompasses an employee's total appearance. Pay as much attention to your accessories and grooming as you do your clothing.
→Play it safe when meeting with hiring managers
Don't risk making a poor first impression with clothes that are too casual. Women should wear a blazer or business-appropriate dress and closed-toe shoes with a low heel. Men fare best in a suit or jacket and tie.
→ Dress for your day
Some companies now give employees the flexibility to choose attire based on their responsibilities (e.g., visiting clients versus doing desk work). If you're unclear of your organization's guidelines, consult the employee handbook or human resources department. Consider keeping a jacket in your office should your day unexpectedly change.
"For employees, if you're not sure what's appropriate to wear for a particular situation, talk to your manager,” says Mr. McDonald. “For job seekers preparing for interviews, tap your network or check out the employers' social media activity for insights on the company's corporate culture. If you're still uncertain of what to wear, err on the formal side."
About the surveys
The Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey was conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.
The OfficeTeam survey was conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 390 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.