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$ != :) Or "Why money doesn't equal a happy workforce"

I was speaking to a friend the other night (yes, contrary to the rumours I have one friend cheeky tongue) and we got onto the subject of her work. Whilst she is overworked and understaffed (like most of us), she earns a pretty decent wage and the perks are pretty good but she’s not happy.

I was shocked (and dismayed) to hear that in her office they have a “uniform” – white tops and black skirts/trousers. This struck me as rather odd as she’s not customer facing and no customer ever goes in her office. Where’s the sense in that?

I can understand wanting everyone to look professional in the office; and, I’ve blogged about how dressing “up” can make you work more productively but enforcing a dress code on employees when one isn’t necessary isn’t the way to go to inspire and motivate your employees.

It’s been said that “A happy workforce is a productive workforce” and it’s also been said that “Money can’t buy you happiness”. Allowing someone a little freedom in their dress can go a long way in making them feel good about themselves and therefore their job.

Where I currently work, we have a “smart-casual” dress code. Whilst I generally hate the term and thing of it as a bit of an oxymoron, the code works. We all look smart and presentable to visiting clients but still have  freedom in what we choose to wear which makes us happy.

During the days of the DotCom boom, we were all in schlepping around jeans and t-shirts which I grant you isn’t very professional looking but to force someone into a set pattern of clothes is ridiculous.

In certain industries you expect some form of uniform – waitressing, the police, McDonalds. But what do these have in common? The uniforms:

  1. differentiate staff from customers
  2. stop them getting their own clothes wrecked

Making someone who’s not customer facing wear clothes of a colour-choice you arbitrarily decide is very much in the “Hamburger” school of management (as an aside, if you’re not reading that blog you should be!) – and that’s where it belongs; in the fast food store.

Sure, you can pay someone more than the industry average and give them a discount on your goods, but allowing them to wear a blue shirt if they want to isn’t that difficult, is it?

Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way – what do you guys think?

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