Dress code policy… I vote yes

I was watching a debate on Loose Women about make-up been worn at work (you now know my guilty TV pleasure).

I love a good debate and this one struck a cord. It has been revealed last week that Virgin are relaxing their rules on make-up and now cabin crew can go make-up free. I have to say that I am disappointed with this move, as this gives the team too much choice and I know that it doesn’t work when this happens in dental practices. Moving forward to Virgin, I feel they are giving out a mixed message.

Here is their statement via BBC news

“Virgin said cabin crew could now work without make-up, but were welcome to follow the palette of lipstick and foundation set out in its guidelines.

Virgin Atlantic spokesman Mark Anderson said: ‘Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work.'”

So the choice is no make-up or they were welcome to follow the palette! I can see this rule being reversed at some point when team members push the envelope. I agree that team members should be able to wear trousers and not dresses but expressing themselves at work is a no for me. If you are at work you are not there to express yourself in what you are wearing you are representing a brand. I wear a suit regardless of the day, I wouldn’t dream of wearing comfy clothing to present in or to attend a practice. I can remember wearing black shorts for a few weeks in summer one year, the outcry from the team and patients was enough for me to go straight back into black trousers, lesson learned.

We at Horton recommend that you really invest in a branded dress code policy for your team, which includes an essential list of what is allowable. Here are our tips:

  1. Uniform – Each team member to be supplied a uniform (employed paid for. Self-employed, expected it’s part of working for your brand). Uniform has to be pressed. Top tip – have an iron and ironing board in your practice.
  2. Make-up – Select a palette of colours you’re happy with so that you don’t get the party face at work. The clinical team often wear less make-up; for the reception team, treatment coordinators and managers I would expect a look that is ‘fresh and professional’.
  3. Nails – short and no nail varnish for clinical staff. For the non-clinical team pick a palette of colours – it is not acceptable to have chipped nail varnish.
  4. Hair – tied back for clinical staff. For non-clinical I would have rules on how it can look, styles you are happy with, some practices even ban certain colours. Decide on appropriate hair bobbles and grips, and pick a palette of colours for them too.
  5. Facial hair – this is important for male colleagues as it is certainly in fashion, but beards need to be well managed and trimmed.
  6. Shoes – I see so many shoes that are not fit for purpose, like uniform, pick styles of shoe that are suitable, from heels to clinical shoes. Use the same policy for buying in shoes too.
  7. Jewellery – confirm items that are allowed, this is really easy for the clinical team as rules are established but not always adhered to! Non-clinical staff need a clear guide of what is acceptable, remembering that less is more.
  8. Name badges – So important and so often missed off, this completes the appearance for me, first names and job titles are the two important aspects here.
  9. Tattoos – The most controversial and some practices are much more tolerant than others for many reasons. There are arguments on both sides but here is some guidance from a UK HR company called 24 HR whose article we found on their website:

“Apart from religious markings, body art is not considered a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, therefore employers are free to base their hiring decisions on this aspect alone. Furthermore, in certain circumstances and where there are no contentious issues to consider (as well taking into account an employees’ length of service), employers could consider visible body art as a valid reason to dismiss existing employees, especially if they are frequently dealing with clients and customers.”


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