Younger Workers Not All Sold On Casual Attire; But Their Bosses Are

Now here’s a curious tidbit from a totally unscientific poll that has us scratching our head: Half of all entry- and middle-level workers think business casual dress hurts productivity.

That alone surprised us, since we have this sense that most lower-level workers are in their 20s and 30s and came of age at a time when casual was already the norm.

The corker, though, is that this self-same survey had bosses saying casual attire was perfectly fine. Only 40 percent thought it hurt productivity.

Remember we said this was an unscientific survey. Conducted by FPC, a national franchise search firm, the survey had 9,105 responses collected anonymously from workers who visited the site. Researchers and pollsters can legitimately argue that it is not random and self-selecting.

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Caveats aside, we would have guessed that the bosses were the ones ready to go back to suits, skirts, and ties. And though a bare majority (51 percent) of the workers said going back to formal business attire would be a step backward, our guess would have been something like 90 percent would feel that way.

Interestingly, only in chemical, biomedical, and pharmaceuticals did workers and bosses agree that casual attire hurt productivity.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


2 Comments on “Younger Workers Not All Sold On Casual Attire; But Their Bosses Are

  1. Thats a tough call. It depends on the business’s reputation and the social environment at the office. If you’re a huge, successful advertising firm, odds are your workers don’t dress up. I have to dress business causal because I’m in HR and its demanded by the companies dress code. But I don’t deal with people at all because I’m a marketer in the HR firm. Sometime I wonder if its a role you play in the company rather then the company itself.

  2. I have visited some companies (and been at some job fairs & trade shows) where “casual clothing” means tattered tank-tops and rubber slippers (you may know them as flip-flops). So, perhaps the idea of “casual wear at work” has gone too far, and that’s why younger workers prefer to get dressed — they want to take their jobs more seriously, and who can blame them?

    Business casusal should still means business IMHO, and this means being well groomed and business-like when dealing with the public, otherwise you look like you just don’t care.

    For example, some restaurants have a wait-staff “uniform dress code” and that makes them look cleaner than their counterparts with no dress code. At Target, where the employees all wear their own khaki pants and red shirts, they look neat and it makes them easy to identify which I also appreciate. This simply “dress courtesy” makes for a more pleasant shopping & dining experience.

    BTW, I work at home, so “casual attire” means bunny slippers and not bothering to brush my teeth.

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