Goodbye casual Fridays. More companies with traditional dress codes are loosening their policies and allowing employees to dress as they please every day of the week.

About three-quarters (74 per cent) of accounting and finance departments in Canada have a somewhat or very casual dress code, according to recent research by recruitment company Robert Half Canada Inc. It found 17 per cent of employers have relaxed their guidelines for business attire over the last five years.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is one employer that has adopted the trend, switching from a formal dress code policy to a more relaxed one last fall, says Andrea Hough, vice-president of talent acquisition.

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She says the bank’s employees can make personal fashion choices, whether it’s men wearing a golf shirt with a pair of khakis or women donning jeans with a sweater. The only thing TD Bank prohibits is any type of clothing with an offensive message or a flashy advertisement, says Hough. “So there’s still an element of professionalism that we want to maintain, but it doesn’t have to be a suit and tie. It can be something comfortable but still work appropriate.”

Employees who interact with clients and customers also have the freedom to choose what they wear, as long as they maintain a professional image, says Hough. “But if you have a day when you’re doing a lot of work at your computer and not interacting with any customers or candidates, then we would encourage you to wear jeans and something really comfortable, like tennis shoes, to work.”

Hough notes the company benefits from adopting a more flexible dress code. For one, it helps TD Bank recruit millennials, who make up 70 per cent of its employees. It also helps staff relax and be more productive at work and reflects the company’s switch to an open-space office environment. “I think the two of those together is very important in helping create a more team-based, collaborative environment,” says Hough.

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Younger workers aren’t the only ones who appreciate a relaxed dress code policy, says Lisa Kay, president and lead consultant at Peak Performance Human Resources Corp. She notes that most Canadian employees today prefer a flexible dress code and find they’re more comfortable at work when they don’t have to wear formal attire.

As well, people can assess whether they subscribe to a company’s culture by looking at what other employees wear, she says. “I think anyone who walks through downtown Toronto and sees the suits down there, they either feel they’d fit into that or they wouldn’t. So I think it’s probably limiting to maintain that type of dress code in an organization, unless there’s a good reason to.”

But employers that want to change their dress code policy should still analyze the reasons for making the change, which values are important to them and what type of clothing they won’t permit before making the move, says Kay.

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It might also take a while for employees to adapt to the change, especially if the company has had a traditional dress code for many years. For instance, Hough says employees at TD Bank were hesitant to wear casual attire at first. It was only after management started wearing business casual clothing that many made the transition.

“A lot of the leaders started to model the behaviour, wearing jeans and sweaters to work, and that really demonstrated to everyone that it was to be embraced. So I think people, towards the winter, started going, ‘Oh, they’re serious,’ and, ‘This is really cool.’”

Hough believes more companies will likely follow suit. “There will be a time that we don’t wear just [suits and ties] anymore, because so many companies are adopting a dress-for-your-day policy, so it really does diminish the need for more formal work wear.”

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on
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Thank you, great news!

Saturday, July 29 at 10:10 am | Reply

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