HR Brew: Science Says That Workplace Dress-code Flexibility Gives Employees Better Self-esteem and Confidence

20 Oct 2022
Researchers found that on days when employees thought their outfits were attractive, workers felt better about themselves and made more progress toward their goals.

Originally found at HR Brew.

When Joseph Kim, assistant professor of management at West Chester University, was a doctorate student, his colleague, Ryan Vogel, said he let fashion fall by the wayside. Clothes are “not very important,” Vogel quipped, when you’re focusing on surviving a PhD program. But even if Kim didn’t notice whether his socks matched, Vogel did notice his wife’s fashion—and observed that she seemed happier when she dressed better. As the saying goes: happy wife, happy life—and in this case, it was also the spark for a new research project.

Kim, Vogel, and his colleagues wanted to understand the relationship between how people dress and how they feel (research published in Academy of Management Journal), and if it translates to productivity on the job. By helping workers feel good in their ’fits, they wagered, HR could unlock productivity gains. After all, encouraging flexible dress can act as a “simple, low-cost intervention,” according to the study.

Trying it on for size. To determine whether attire affects employee performance, the team measured self-esteem, coworker interaction, and progress toward goals at four organizations over 10 days. Each day, employees rated their outfit’s attractiveness, uniqueness, and conformity with organization expectations, and recorded their workplace behavior.


Continue reading the original article at HR Brew.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal.

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