Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Should Every Day Be Dress Down #2

Forbidden footwear includes sandals, flip flops, clogs, athletic shoes of any kind, work boots or hiking boots. Casual walking shoes and flat shoes/loafers are acceptable.

What is he wearing on a September Monday? "Oxford comfort shoes, navy blue slacks, a striped Oxford shirt" and no tie.

"Casual dress days" are becoming quite prevalent around the Granite State, according to a recent survey by the NH affiliate of the National Human Resources Association. Of the companies responding to the survey (mostly manufacturing/distribution firms) 83 percent have designated casual days, although only about one-third have a written policy. Just over 80 percent permitted denim jeans at work, and all permitted open-toed shoes in areas where safety is not a concern.

Business casual is also the year-round policy at Public Service of New Hampshire, according to Martin Murray, a spokesman from the Manchester headquarters. PSNH follows the dress code of its Connecticut parent company, Northeast Utilities.

PSNH formerly had a "casual Friday" and dressed up the rest of the week. One summer the company tried the casual mode day-by-day. After Labor Day, Murray says, a corporate decision was made to keep "casual" 12 months a year.

But the policy isn't as detailed as Associated Grocers'. "The employee is asked to use his/her best judgment to select appropriate attire for his or her job," Murray says. However, "it's strongly suggested that jeans, shorts, T-shirts and sneakers are not appropriate. But the onus is on the employee."

Murray cites two of those advantages. First, casual business dress is less expensive than traditional office wear. "I know I kept one dry cleaner in business by myself. Now my dry cleaning bill has gone down."

And people have told him they're more comfortable in the casual attire, and this makes it easier for them to do their jobs.

What is Murray wearing as he talks to a visitor? "I have on a golf shirt and pants -- I think they're Dockers, but I can't see the label. They're not khakis, because they're black. And my comfortable dress shoes are interesting --they're those lace-up things from Timberland. They're like a short boot."

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