The relaxed dress code movement grew out of the “Casual Fridays” trend of the ’90s and swept across a variety of fields. However, professional industries such as accounting and banking have hesitated to join in due to the nature of their work.
“The overwhelming majority [of people] that are coming in to get your guidance on taxes — they look at you, and if you’re wearing an $800 suit, they think: She must know something,” said human relations expert Edward Yost of the Society of Human Resources.
However, as the job market landscape evolves and a new generation moves into the sight of recruiters, workplace values and incentives have begun to shift as well. Even financial companies are looking to appeal to the masses of Millennials who are now entering the workforce, which may mean compromising on certain office policies and relaxing the dress code.
Over the past six months, Chicago-based accounting firm Crowe Horwath has been experimenting with what they call the “Dress for your Day” policy, an extension of the “Casual Friday” practice, which is allowing employees a little more freedom when it comes to daily office attire.
The firm’s accountants still must dress business professional when meeting with clients; however, they are now enjoying the comfort of wearing jeans on days spent in front of the computer.
Like many trending office perks popular among startups and other companies led by young professionals, the freedom to dress down is a recruiting technique. Millennials just leaving college and entering the working world have a different set of values than the baby boomers they are bound to replace in the near future. Workplace happiness and a sense of autonomy have replaced high salary as the number one driving force behind young employees’ work ethic.
Studies show that well-lit, well-ventilated, comfortable workplaces increase productivity by as much as 16% and that comfort extends beyond desk chairs and air conditioning. Workers are more productive when they are comfortable in their clothes as well.