While the norm for the modern workforce is casual Friday every day, a new report revealed that some millennials are being asked to dress more professionally at the office.

The Randstad report, released on Tuesday, revealed that a total of 79% of employees cited their current organizations’ dress code as either business casual (26%), casual (33%), or non-existent (20%).

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Millennials are transforming the enterprise by pushing for flexible work options, but they also look at fashion differently. By 2020, millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce, and this influx of younger employees is shifting the way both fashion and work styles are viewed in the workforce, the report found.

The report said that 38% of millennials have been asked to dress more professionally by a manager or HR representative; yet, 63% of Gen Zers and millennials said they prefer dressing up, as it gives them a confidence boost.

“There’s an interesting disconnect around younger workers: most associate dressing up with
more confidence and better work performance, but nearly 40% also report they’ve had a
manager speak to them about dressing more professionally,” Traci Fiatte, CEO of non-technical staffing at Randstad US, said in a press release. “The bottom line is, as long as employees dress in a way that’s consistent with their employer’s policies, most managers care less about what their employees wear than about their performance and work output.”

Only 51% of workers ages 35 to 64 said they would want to dress up for work, the report found. Older generations get their wish, with most organizations opting for a casual dress code.

Respondents agreed that ripped jeans (73%) and leggings (56%) were not appropriate for the office space, even if the workspace is business casual. Of those surveyed, 28% said someone else’s clothing at work has made them feel uncomfortable because it was
too revealing.

What companies can do to help employees

One of the problems is that companies do not have clear dress codes, so employees are unsure what to wear, according to the report.

Of those surveyed, 30% said their employer’s dress code is unclear, so they’re uncertain as to what is acceptable. This has led to 38% of 25- to 35-year-olds being asked to dress more professionally by their manager or HR department, and 30% said they know someone who has been sent home for breaking dress code policies.

Employees should feel comfortable in their workspaces, Fiatte said in the press release. This means that the responsibility falls on companies to enforce a dress code policy, as well as the employees to follow policies set in place.

One of the top signs of a dysfunctional work culture is a lack of transparency; leadership must set ground rules for attire to prevent any possible uncomfortability or awkwardness. With managers most often to blame for creating toxic work environments, it is their responsibility to help enforce such policies.

Casual dress matters to employees

But employees want the freedom to dress more casually. The survey showed that 33% of workers said they’d rather have a casual dress code than earn an extra $5,000 in pay each year. Among those workers who have strict, conservative dress codes, this jumped to 41%.

And 33% said they’d rather quit their job, or not accept a new job offer, if it meant following a strict, conservative dress code every day of the week.

Overall, 55% of managers said they care about performance, not what their employees wear, and 67% of employees said they feel what they wear does not impact their performance.

The Randstad report surveyed more than 1,200 employees between the ages of 18 and 65+ to determine current attitudes around fashion in the modern-day workforce.

For more, check out the Top 5 things to know about working millennials on TechRepublic.

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