Casual dress codes, informal etiquette may help recruiting and retention, survey indicates

As hybrid schedules continue to change workplace norms, casual dress codes and informal workplace etiquette are becoming more common as well, according to June 26 survey results from Express Employment Professionals and The Harris Poll.

Fewer U.S. hiring managers said it’s important to have a dress code than did five years ago. Employers are also less likely to ask employees to silence their mobile devices at work, refrain from making personal calls or use formal business communication.

“In a tight labor market, perks like a more casual dress code are simple to implement and can have a significant impact on recruiting and retention,” Bill Stoller, CEO of Express Employment International, said in a statement. “Some values, however, like punctuality and workspace cleanliness should remain important to respect colleagues’ valuable time and mutual space.”

In the survey of 1,007 U.S. hiring decision-makers, less than a third said having dress code guidelines and adhering to a dress code is important, as compared to 49% and 46%, respectively, who said the same five years ago. In addition, 7 in 10 said workplace etiquette that wasn’t acceptable three years ago is now acceptable.

However, several aspects of workplace culture remain important, such as arriving on time for work and meetings, keeping a clean workspace and greeting co-workers, hiring managers said.

But as rules shift or become less formal, employees may find it difficult to keep up, the report found. About half of hiring managers said it’s hard for employees to understand what is and isn’t acceptable due to recent changes in the workplace.

Workers reported similar sentiments. In a separate survey of 1,002 U.S. adults, a majority said the same aspects of workplace culture remain important, such as arriving on time for work and meetings, keeping workspaces clean and greeting co-workers.

About a third of workers said having a dress code and adhering to a dress code were important, which dropped from nearly two-thirds about five years ago. In addition, 75% of workers agreed that workplace etiquette that wasn’t acceptable three years ago is now.

Overall, most companies appear to be shifting toward a more casual dress code, according to an Adzuna analysis. Although few job ads mention a dress code, the vast majority that do tend to list “casual” or “business casual” attire.

Although company culture has also become more casual, 41% of job seekers say they aren’t comfortable being themselves at work, according to another survey by Express Employment Professionals. More than half also said it’s hard to know what’s acceptable at work due to recent changes, and 86% said they prefer to keep their home and work lives separate.

Workplace etiquette and professionalism continue to be popular areas for learning and development opportunities, especially for younger workers, Christine Cruzvergara, the chief education strategy officer for Handshake, previously told HR Dive. In particular, no-shows and a lack of communication about sick days can be a problem, so time management, organization skills and communication should be “taught from an upskilling and professional development standpoint,” she said.