By Alan Price, HR / employment law director of employment law consultancy Peninsula and director of the CIPD, the HR professional body

For any organisation the first impression you make and the continued image you portray to clients and business partners can affect your reputation and whether your business grows and develops. One of the biggest factors that contribute to a company’s image is how their employees personally present themselves at work. This is particularly true within a corporate office environment, where maintaining a professional persona is often affiliated with the dress code adopted by your employees.

If a company prides itself on professionalism and wishes to attain a certain level of status within their industry, dress code should be given a top priority. If your employees present themselves professionally in formal business wear, it sends a powerful message, one which states that as a company we are reliable, trustworthy and experts in our field. Alternatively, maintaining a formal company dress code also provides a sense of visual uniformity for employees. It makes them feel part of a collective community and that they are a team working together to achieve goals and targets.

Despite this, from time to time, employee dress codes can fall short of the expected requirements, as staff become complacent or comfortable in their position. This isn’t necessary a reflection of their attitude towards their work or dedication to the job, but if left unresolved can cause other members of the team to follow suit.

As the employer, you need to take action and remind your employees of the company policy regarding appropriate business dress. Start by sending an office wide email that serves as a reminder as to why a company dress code has been enforced and why it is important to maintain a certain image. Reinforce the idea that it is the employees’ responsibility to meet the requirements of their job specification, which includes dressing appropriately whilst at work. If this fails to have the desired effect and the problem persists, it may be worth conducting an informal one to one meeting with the employees in question to clarify what you require from them moving forward in terms of personal presentation.

Employees can often underestimate the importance that their personal appearance can have on the business. There should be a mutual sense of responsibility in ensuring that the required dress code is followed and maintained. Employers should enforce clear guidelines and expectations when it comes to the work dress code; whilst employees should understand that following the dress code is part of their job role requirements. At the end of the day, it is your company’s reputation at stake and every area no matter how small it may seem can make all the difference.