What You Wear to Work May Be Preventing You From Getting a Promotion

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83 per cent of Canadian workers and 78 per cent of managers feel clothing choices affect a person’s chances of being promoted

  • Professionals in Canada spend an average of 7 minutes a day choosing their office attire; those ages 18 to 34 take the longest.
  • Piercings other than the earlobe, visible tattoos, jeans and leggings are more acceptable for work now compared to 5 years ago
  • Flip-flops, shorts and tank tops are less acceptable versus 5 years ago

Toronto, ON — Climbing the corporate ladder requires the right gear, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam suggests. The majority of professionals (83 per cent) and managers (78 per cent) surveyed said clothing choices affect someone’s chances of being promoted.

“What you wear to work speaks to your credibility and overall fit within the company,” said Koula Vasilopoulos, a district director for OfficeTeam. “Dressing professionally, even in a casual office environment, helps employees distinguish themselves as capable, confident and ready to take on new challenges or growth opportunities.”

Added Vasilopoulos, “It’s up to managers to give staff a benchmark for what is appropriate by clearly communicating company policies and leading by example through their own attire.”

Time Well Spent?

The study also found that workers spend an average of seven minutes a day selecting an outfit for the office. Employees ages 18 to 34 spend the most time deciding what to wear (9 minutes) compared to those ages 35 to 54 (7 minutes) and 55 and older (5 minutes).

One thing that may make choosing an outfit faster is keeping a separate work wardrobe, like 63 per cent of the professionals surveyed said they do.

Wear This, Not That

What items are office-appropriate? According to HR managers, piercings other than on the earlobe, visible tattoos, jeans and leggings top the list of things that are more acceptable at work now than five years ago. In the same timeframe, employers have become less tolerant of flip-flops, shorts and tank tops.

Addressing Employee Dressing

It seems supervisors may not always do much in response to employees who don’t dress to impress. Only eight per cent of senior managers have talked to an employee about their inappropriate attire, while another eight per cent have sent staff home based on what they were wearing. Of those executives who did speak with an employee or told someone to leave and change clothes, nearly half (48 per cent) felt awkward stepping in, and another 15 per cent didn’t want to have the conversation at all. Thirty-seven per cent said they were comfortable bringing it up with the employee.

About the Research

OfficeTeam worked with independent research firms to survey two populations: professionals and managers. Survey results are based on responses from more than 1,000 Canadian workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers and 300 HR managers at Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

About OfficeTeam

OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, is the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has 300 locations worldwide. For additional information visit roberthalf.ca/officeteamFollow roberthalf.ca/blog for career and management advice.