Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
As a grade schooler, I learned the discipline of having a dress code policy because I went to a private school that required students to wear uniforms.
The positive aspect of wearing a uniform is that it takes the thinking out of what to wear in the morning.
The downside is uniforms are usually boring and get old really quickly.
The reason many schools have uniforms is to enforce a consistent look for all the kids.
Enter The Workforce
When I entered the workforce, the dress code for office workers was fairly formal.
Most required women to wear dresses or skirts and eventually, business pantsuits became very common.
Through the years, the formality faded, and business casual became more popular.
As the Silicon Valley techie companies emerged, casual dress began to break the corporate rules for dress, and casual clothes became more commonplace.
Businesses started to have casual Fridays when employees could wear their khakis and polo shirts, and more recently, casual Fridays often mean blue jeans.
Now the Senate
I found it interesting to learn that the Senate’s dress code rules are changing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) quietly has directed the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms to no longer enforce the chamber’s informal dress code for its members.
This means that Senators can choose what they wear on the Senate floor.
An institution that represents the highest levels of our democracy has gone casual. A striking sign of the times.
Is a dress code necessary in a church office?
Proper office dress codes are a drag because no one really wants to be told what they have to wear to work.
In addition, no manager really wants to confront an employee who doesn’t comply with the policy.
But office dress code guidelines are usually written because one employee crossed the line and forced a formal dress code policy.
According to a salary.com survey, some respondents felt like a dress code made the workplace feel professional, while others didn’t agree that wearing jeans would affect job performance.
A small percentage of respondents were unsure of their company’s dress code policy, and those who were aware of the dress code said it was unclear – which led to confusion.
Nearly 25% said their office dress code was too lenient and shared stories of low-cut tops, holes in blue jeans, and exposed body piercings and tattoos that they considered inappropriate for the office.
4 Considerations When Creating A Dress Code Policy
1. Church Culture
Every church has an organizational culture that should dictate church office dress code policies.
The way employees dress directly reflects the ministry and communicates such.
This doesn’t mean that the blue jeans and t-shirt culture at Apple is unprofessional – they are very professional. But it is more reflective of their particular culture.
Think of a meeting with your financial advisor.
Seeing them in blue jeans and a T-shirt might make you question their professionalism.
It’s all about the culture and what you are trying to communicate with the members, volunteers, and visitors.
2. Clear Expectations
Creating a workplace dress code policy helps employees understand expectations and boundaries for what to and what not to wear to work.
If the employee policies provide a level of detail, it communicates clear examples of what is appropriate and what is not.
For instance, if blue jeans are allowed in the office, are jeans with holes also allowed? Or is gym attire allowed in the office, and if so, is there a line of inappropriate that cannot be crossed?
3. Office Distractions
Part of the reason schools have kids wear uniforms is to minimize the distractions that come with some clothing styles.
The same is true in any office setting.
Whether it is clothes that fit too tightly, shows a little too much skin, or are dirty and not well-groomed, all of these things can create distractions in the workplace.
For instance, consider if women wearing low-cut tops is a look you want in your church office. If not, it is important to clarify those expectations in a policy.
4. Consistency in Application
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is not being consistent in policy enforcement.
When a policy is written and not enforced consistently, it can create confusion and difficulties in the workplace.
If you are going to create a dress code policy, it is important to make sure it is enforced without bias and consistently throughout the church workplace.
Work with your Personnel Committee to draft all employees’ policies. Take the time to discuss expectations for how employees should dress while in the church office.
When creating your church dress code policy, consider the culture you are trying to reflect the community, the atmosphere you want your employees to enjoy, and the boundaries employees must abide by.
A Balance Is Important
I have to admit, I am one who still dresses up for church because that is how I was raised, and it communicates respect. I also admit that casual Fridays were always a perk for me because I could dress down at work.
However, how we dress communicates a message about us and tells a story about our priorities.
Whether your culture is blue jeans and t-shirts or business suits and ties, it should reflect the church’s personality and culture.
Does your church office have a dress code policy?
If you are a member, you can log in here to access an example dress code policy. If you are not a member, you can explore our growing library of forms, documents, and job descriptions here.