How to Change a Dress Code Policy—in 24 Hours

Often, decision-making in corporations crawls along at a snail’s pace. Or so it seems. But occasionally, when the right idea surfaces at the right time, things can move quickly.

Group of Happy People in Jeans - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Andresr, Image #5563401

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Andresr

On Thursday, October 16, at 4:30 p.m. Gabe Wicks, the VP in charge of our Design and Multimedia Group, sent me an email. He challenged our dress code policy, saying

Given the harsh economic climate, why don’t we help out our employees’ personal expenses while also giving them a positive perk that won’t cost the company a dime? Allowing employees to wear jeans at their discretion would do both. It would certainly reduce dry cleaning costs for most staffers, and it would be a tangible policy change that would lift spirits and give people one more reason to be thankful they have a job, particularly with a company that sincerely cares about them, their finances and their comfort at work.

I replied seven minutes later to Gabe and Jim Thomason, our VP of Human Resources. I told them both that I loved the idea. Jim replied a few minutes later and suggested that we poll the executive leadership team. We gave them a “negative option,” telling them that we were going to announce the change on Friday afternoon unless they objected. I wanted for our employees to go into the weekend with some positive news.

By noon on Friday, we had heard from everyone on the executive team. Jim sent out a “Dress Code Change” announcement at 1:30 p..m., less than 24 hours from the time Gabe first presented the idea.

An hour later Jim reported back that his email was “lit up with thank-you notes.” More than one employee said to him, “This is the best news I have heard in weeks?” Wow.

Last week, in honor of our new dress code, I wore jeans every single day. I loved how much more productive I felt. I don’t know if it was the jeans per se or just the change of pace. Regardless, I like it.

Question: Why do you think most people responded so positively to such a seemingly small change in our dress code? What other small changes could we make that would have a big impact?
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  • http://www.john-gallagher.blogspot.com/ John Gallagher

    If only all changes were that simple, but normally, it is the small things that make a HUGE impact! Blue jeans are much more comfortable and productive! As a real estate agent, I tend to 'dress down' in jeans and get lots of comments, but mostly jealousy!

  • http://www.john-gallagher.blogspot.com John Gallagher

    If only all changes were that simple, but normally, it is the small things that make a HUGE impact! Blue jeans are much more comfortable and productive! As a real estate agent, I tend to ‘dress down’ in jeans and get lots of comments, but mostly jealousy!

  • http://www.greggfraley.com/ Gregg Fraley

    Small changes to the environment can make a big difference in creating or sustaining an innovative culture.

    The dress code change is a great example of how you can positively impact three of the four P's that make for an innovative culture. It made your "People" feel more free, it makes a claim to a creative environment ("press") more credible and real, it removes an unproductive "process" and this should all work towards better "product".

    Another small change you might consider is some way to have regular "fun". The Cisco CEO cruises his shop with an ice cream truck now and then, as an example of how. A hospital in Atlanta improved cash flow considerably (millions pulled from 90 days down to 60 or less) by giving Tootsie Rolls to doctors to get them to sign off on claims forms.

    Why not post a huge sheet of paper on a centrally located wall and put your question (or my fun question) at the top of it and let your employees tell you…

    Nice post, as usual!

  • http://www.greggfraley.com Gregg Fraley

    Small changes to the environment can make a big difference in creating or sustaining an innovative culture.

    The dress code change is a great example of how you can positively impact three of the four P’s that make for an innovative culture. It made your “People” feel more free, it makes a claim to a creative environment (“press”) more credible and real, it removes an unproductive “process” and this should all work towards better “product”.

    Another small change you might consider is some way to have regular “fun”. The Cisco CEO cruises his shop with an ice cream truck now and then, as an example of how. A hospital in Atlanta improved cash flow considerably (millions pulled from 90 days down to 60 or less) by giving Tootsie Rolls to doctors to get them to sign off on claims forms.

    Why not post a huge sheet of paper on a centrally located wall and put your question (or my fun question) at the top of it and let your employees tell you…

    Nice post, as usual!

  • http://profile.typekey.com/1218236009s4731/ Eric S. Mueller

    Small changes can produce a boost in morale. Some changes don't though.My current company just spent months on a study and rolled out a new "flex time" policy. You can choose one of two plans. I see this as more inflexible than the standard 8 hour a day 5 day week though, and I think I'm going to sit out the trial.

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com/ Maurilio Amorim

    I enjoyed reading the tweets from all my Thomas Nelson friends over that weekend as everyone seemed to be buying new jeans. You also help fuel the economy.:-)

    Did you have any push back from people who thought it was not a good idea?

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

    I enjoyed reading the tweets from all my Thomas Nelson friends over that weekend as everyone seemed to be buying new jeans. You also help fuel the economy.:-)

    Did you have any push back from people who thought it was not a good idea?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/1218236009s4731/ Eric S. Mueller

    Small changes can produce a boost in morale. Some changes don’t though.My current company just spent months on a study and rolled out a new “flex time” policy. You can choose one of two plans. I see this as more inflexible than the standard 8 hour a day 5 day week though, and I think I’m going to sit out the trial.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Gregg,

    Hopefully, our employees will feel free to comment here (as they usually do) or send me an email.

    @Maurilio, I am not aware of any push-back, but I'd be surprised in an organization of our size if there wasn't some.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Gregg,

    Hopefully, our employees will feel free to comment here (as they usually do) or send me an email.

    @Maurilio, I am not aware of any push-back, but I’d be surprised in an organization of our size if there wasn’t some.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Mary Wang

    I am mary from China,entering your blog from one articles of yours- "Creating a life plan",which has great help to me.thanks.

    I like reading every article of yours,very philosphic.
    About your opinion on the dress code ,I feel too deeply about it for that, for we have to wear workclothes everyday,no matter what is the weather like,and we will be fined for not wearing the clothes,too formalistic.
    As you say, a small change would have a big impact on us,I really hope that day.

  • Mary Wang

    I am mary from China,entering your blog from one articles of yours- “Creating a life plan”,which has great help to me.thanks.

    I like reading every article of yours,very philosphic.
    About your opinion on the dress code ,I feel too deeply about it for that, for we have to wear workclothes everyday,no matter what is the weather like,and we will be fined for not wearing the clothes,too formalistic.
    As you say, a small change would have a big impact on us,I really hope that day.

  • john stewart

    Another action to consider not only b/c of the economic climate, but a terrific green thing to do… consider allowing your staff to telecommute one day a week. Most if not all your execs have laptops and even support staff can still accomplish most of their tasks remotely. I believe from personal experience that this type of work environment breeds deeper and more creative thought that is not allowed when chained to the office.

  • john stewart

    Another action to consider not only b/c of the economic climate, but a terrific green thing to do… consider allowing your staff to telecommute one day a week. Most if not all your execs have laptops and even support staff can still accomplish most of their tasks remotely. I believe from personal experience that this type of work environment breeds deeper and more creative thought that is not allowed when chained to the office.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @John,

    Actually, we are running an extensive work-from-home test right now. In fact, we are in Phase II of the test. So far so good. We have some employees working from home as much as two days per week. I am personally working from home one day per week. So far, we are finding that people are much ore productive when they have this option.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @John,

    Actually, we are running an extensive work-from-home test right now. In fact, we are in Phase II of the test. So far so good. We have some employees working from home as much as two days per week. I am personally working from home one day per week. So far, we are finding that people are much ore productive when they have this option.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.brennaphillips.com/ Brenna

    Jeans give a comfortable feel. It's also easier to decide what to wear and how to match it everyday.
    I teach at a school and, even though we aren't allowed to wear jeans, we are required to wear a school shirt with the logo on the front. Makes it much easier in the mornings to decide what clothes to wear.

  • http://www.brennaphillips.com Brenna

    Jeans give a comfortable feel. It’s also easier to decide what to wear and how to match it everyday.
    I teach at a school and, even though we aren’t allowed to wear jeans, we are required to wear a school shirt with the logo on the front. Makes it much easier in the mornings to decide what clothes to wear.

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com/ Larry Shallenberger

    I've gotten some of my best work done from the home.

    Tips:

    1) No children in the house.
    2) Work in a clean, uncluttered house.

    But I love being away from my phone and office-drop ins.

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com Larry Shallenberger

    I’ve gotten some of my best work done from the home.

    Tips:

    1) No children in the house.
    2) Work in a clean, uncluttered house.

    But I love being away from my phone and office-drop ins.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/kfeldotto/ Kevin Feldotto

    Obviously, there should be some sense of decorum in the work environment but artificial dress codes stifle creativity. I find that christian organizations and communist societies are both good at that. :-O When corporate culture dictates appropriate attire instead of rules, people feel free to be who they really are. When that happens, creativity and productivity both rise.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/kfeldotto/ Kevin Feldotto

    Obviously, there should be some sense of decorum in the work environment but artificial dress codes stifle creativity. I find that christian organizations and communist societies are both good at that. :-O When corporate culture dictates appropriate attire instead of rules, people feel free to be who they really are. When that happens, creativity and productivity both rise.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/kfeldotto/ Kevin Feldotto

    Larry,
    Could you please come clean my house & watch my kids so I could get some work done around here?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/kfeldotto/ Kevin Feldotto

    Larry,
    Could you please come clean my house & watch my kids so I could get some work done around here?

  • http://www.danieldecker.net/ daniel d

    Thanks for sharing this and opening the door for others by way of Nelson's example. Our church just started allowing all admin staff the option to work 4 days a week (shorter lunches and cominhg in a 1/2 hour early on other days). Most are doing it and loving it.

    I agree with John also above. The benefits of work-from-home are real.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net daniel d

    Thanks for sharing this and opening the door for others by way of Nelson’s example. Our church just started allowing all admin staff the option to work 4 days a week (shorter lunches and cominhg in a 1/2 hour early on other days). Most are doing it and loving it.

    I agree with John also above. The benefits of work-from-home are real.

  • Mark Russell

    Everyone responded positively because everyone likes wearing comfortable clothes. Every time I dress up I like it but I like changing back into my comfortable clothes even more!

  • Mark Russell

    Everyone responded positively because everyone likes wearing comfortable clothes. Every time I dress up I like it but I like changing back into my comfortable clothes even more!

  • Emily Sutherland

    Speaking as a full-time "work at home" employee for a busy music company, I can say that the sense of trust that comes with allowing employees a work scenario that values their well-being communicates more than a thousand verbal affirmations that they are valued and that their well-being is a priority. That sense of feeling treasured by your employer breeds loyalty you wouldn't believe! Most days I'd take a bullet for my employers for allowing me to continue my full-time position at home for more than 8 years.

  • Emily Sutherland

    Speaking as a full-time “work at home” employee for a busy music company, I can say that the sense of trust that comes with allowing employees a work scenario that values their well-being communicates more than a thousand verbal affirmations that they are valued and that their well-being is a priority. That sense of feeling treasured by your employer breeds loyalty you wouldn’t believe! Most days I’d take a bullet for my employers for allowing me to continue my full-time position at home for more than 8 years.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com/ Colleen Coble

    The thing that helps with wearing jeans is comfortable shoes. Women can actually think without having their toes pinched! :) I loved it when TN started the work from home program too.

    I'm obsessed with babies recently with two of my dear editors having new babies and my own brand new granddaughter. A quality day care on the premises would be fabulous! Then Ami and Nat could run down and check on their little darlings (and they are DARLING) to help them deal with the separation. Dads too.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    The thing that helps with wearing jeans is comfortable shoes. Women can actually think without having their toes pinched! :) I loved it when TN started the work from home program too.

    I’m obsessed with babies recently with two of my dear editors having new babies and my own brand new granddaughter. A quality day care on the premises would be fabulous! Then Ami and Nat could run down and check on their little darlings (and they are DARLING) to help them deal with the separation. Dads too.

  • http://www.macadamiathenut.com/ macadamia the nut

    I think 'comfort level' plays a huge role in productivity.
    Also, even a small change in monotony can work wonders for the morale…

  • http://www.macadamiathenut.com macadamia the nut

    I think ‘comfort level’ plays a huge role in productivity.
    Also, even a small change in monotony can work wonders for the morale…

  • Ivan Chong

    I believe you were sending your employees a strong message that you value them. The economic news is creating a lot of anxiety among employees. They hear about large businesses cutting jobs and they fear that their own employment may be at risk as every business is looking to cut costs. It may sound like a small change, but the new dress code signals you are willing to make creative adjustments to ease the cost of living for your employees. I'm sure this is very reassuring to them.

  • Ivan Chong

    I believe you were sending your employees a strong message that you value them. The economic news is creating a lot of anxiety among employees. They hear about large businesses cutting jobs and they fear that their own employment may be at risk as every business is looking to cut costs. It may sound like a small change, but the new dress code signals you are willing to make creative adjustments to ease the cost of living for your employees. I’m sure this is very reassuring to them.

  • http://www.jondale.com/ Jon Dale

    Welcome to the year 2000…now if I could just get the Board over at Focus on the Family to read this…perhaps they could join TN in the 21st century and free their employees from fashion prison.

  • http://www.jondale.com Jon Dale

    Welcome to the year 2000…now if I could just get the Board over at Focus on the Family to read this…perhaps they could join TN in the 21st century and free their employees from fashion prison.

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    Why did most people respond positively? Motivation is certainly key. Your stated motivation was to provide a positive perk and relieve personal expenses, demonstrating proactive sensitivity to your employees. You are evidently confident of their motivation to be productive and present a purposeful image to associates apart from a dress code—not a given for many situations.

    What other small changes could have big impact? Perhaps you already do it, but one of the "smallest" investments we make of ourselves with biggest payoff potential is initiating frequent impromptu prayer, inviting our dependence on God and His intervention in even "small" decisions.

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    Why did most people respond positively? Motivation is certainly key. Your stated motivation was to provide a positive perk and relieve personal expenses, demonstrating proactive sensitivity to your employees. You are evidently confident of their motivation to be productive and present a purposeful image to associates apart from a dress code—not a given for many situations.

    What other small changes could have big impact? Perhaps you already do it, but one of the “smallest” investments we make of ourselves with biggest payoff potential is initiating frequent impromptu prayer, inviting our dependence on God and His intervention in even “small” decisions.

  • http://www.nfb.org/ Lorraine Rovig

    Michael, we have a different take on dress codes. I can see that permission to wear jeans can work well in your business. We have a stricter dress code but it works in our favor to have one. Our big dress code change (some time ago) was permitting women to wear dress slacks and pant suits. I work for the nonprofit National Federation of the Blind, the largest and oldest self-help group in the U. S. for blind Americans. We have more than a thousand visitors to our HQ every year to impress with the idea that blindness does not automatically mean incompetence or sloppiness or being down at the heels. Blue jeans would not help with this. Therefore, we insist on "business attire." (The nearby Super Goodwill finds many of us regular visitors. We call it the Gucci Goodwill because they have so many good clothes at secondhand prices.)

    When we are at our national convention, in our "off duty" time, we insist on "business casual" (which does not include blue jeans, unless the activity is one that ordinarily would include blue jeans—like riding horses). Sure it is unusual these days but I think it pays off where it really matters for us–changing the attitude of folks who still have stereotypes in their minds that need replacing and updating. The old “blindness is the worst thing ever and a blind person can’t be a normal competent person” attitude is the number one major barrier to success, both in the minds of blind persons and of sighted persons who are gatekeepers. For blind persons, learning blindness skills is half the problem solved; learning a positive attitude is the other half. Dr. Kenneth Jernigan (sometimes called the Martin Luther King, Jr., of the blind), said, “Philosophy bakes no bread, but without philosophy no bread is baked." For example, he said you could teach a person to use a white cane to travel safely, but without a positive attitude, that person won’t leave the house.

    Which brings me back to our dress code being all about changing attitudes. Comfort is a distant second and that’s okay. I can change when I get home.

  • http://www.nfb.org Lorraine Rovig

    Michael, we have a different take on dress codes. I can see that permission to wear jeans can work well in your business. We have a stricter dress code but it works in our favor to have one. Our big dress code change (some time ago) was permitting women to wear dress slacks and pant suits. I work for the nonprofit National Federation of the Blind, the largest and oldest self-help group in the U. S. for blind Americans. We have more than a thousand visitors to our HQ every year to impress with the idea that blindness does not automatically mean incompetence or sloppiness or being down at the heels. Blue jeans would not help with this. Therefore, we insist on “business attire.” (The nearby Super Goodwill finds many of us regular visitors. We call it the Gucci Goodwill because they have so many good clothes at secondhand prices.)

    When we are at our national convention, in our “off duty” time, we insist on “business casual” (which does not include blue jeans, unless the activity is one that ordinarily would include blue jeans—like riding horses). Sure it is unusual these days but I think it pays off where it really matters for us–changing the attitude of folks who still have stereotypes in their minds that need replacing and updating. The old “blindness is the worst thing ever and a blind person can’t be a normal competent person” attitude is the number one major barrier to success, both in the minds of blind persons and of sighted persons who are gatekeepers. For blind persons, learning blindness skills is half the problem solved; learning a positive attitude is the other half. Dr. Kenneth Jernigan (sometimes called the Martin Luther King, Jr., of the blind), said, “Philosophy bakes no bread, but without philosophy no bread is baked.” For example, he said you could teach a person to use a white cane to travel safely, but without a positive attitude, that person won’t leave the house.

    Which brings me back to our dress code being all about changing attitudes. Comfort is a distant second and that’s okay. I can change when I get home.

  • Michael

    Dogs. We've "gone to the dogs" here in our office and on any given day there are up to seven or eight dogs sacked out in various cubes. They all get along well and everybody is just a bit happier stopping off and petting their favorite four-legged friends throughout the day. Try it!

    Michael

  • Michael

    Dogs. We’ve “gone to the dogs” here in our office and on any given day there are up to seven or eight dogs sacked out in various cubes. They all get along well and everybody is just a bit happier stopping off and petting their favorite four-legged friends throughout the day. Try it!

    Michael

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/ John Bergquist

    Michael, I still think denim kilts should be next. Great move, but hey I have been wearing ripped jeans and occasionally flip flops to work for at least 10 years. Like @jdale said "Welcome to the year 2000"

    @johnflurry

  • Gary

    Mike,

    As always, great blog. I am a regular reader as I value your thoughts as a leader. You are so correct in saying that small changes (such as the dress code and the employees having the ability to working from home a couple days a week) will produce big results and go a long way. Thomas Nelson is by far the best place I've worked in my career. It's great to see changes like this happening even though I'm not there to experience it. I envy my former co-workers :) . Take care.

  • Gary

    Mike,

    As always, great blog. I am a regular reader as I value your thoughts as a leader. You are so correct in saying that small changes (such as the dress code and the employees having the ability to working from home a couple days a week) will produce big results and go a long way. Thomas Nelson is by far the best place I’ve worked in my career. It’s great to see changes like this happening even though I’m not there to experience it. I envy my former co-workers :) . Take care.

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com John Bergquist

    Michael, I still think denim kilts should be next. Great move, but hey I have been wearing ripped jeans and occasionally flip flops to work for at least 10 years. Like @jdale said “Welcome to the year 2000″

    @johnflurry

  • http://www.queenofthecastlerecipes.com/ Lynn

    I think another reason people reacted so positively, Mike, is because you listened. The little guy doesn't often feel heard. By hearing and responding, you let your employees know that you value what they have to say. Well done.

  • http://www.queenofthecastlerecipes.com Lynn

    I think another reason people reacted so positively, Mike, is because you listened. The little guy doesn’t often feel heard. By hearing and responding, you let your employees know that you value what they have to say. Well done.

  • http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/ David Wayne

    I'm wondering if we could extend this discussion to the arena of worship services? I know that some of the more emergent leaning churches dress casually but many of the more conservative and traditional churches still have an unspoken dress code. I'm a pastor and would love to wear jeans on Sunday, but fear it would scandalize some. But I'm wondering if this more "casual" atmosphere might have some similar effects to what happened at TN. Not necessarily in terms of great "production" but greater freedom in worship.

  • http://jollyblogger.typepad.com David Wayne

    I’m wondering if we could extend this discussion to the arena of worship services? I know that some of the more emergent leaning churches dress casually but many of the more conservative and traditional churches still have an unspoken dress code. I’m a pastor and would love to wear jeans on Sunday, but fear it would scandalize some. But I’m wondering if this more “casual” atmosphere might have some similar effects to what happened at TN. Not necessarily in terms of great “production” but greater freedom in worship.

  • Misty Jones

    Mike, I think the most exciting thing about this news is trust. It may sound kind of silly, but it's just like a parent-child relationship – it's so rewarding when we're given the chance to use our common sense (and fashion sense, of course) to let us dictate what's appropriate and what's not rather than being forced to abide by a set of specific rules. Being told "we trust you, so have a bit of freedom!" by the "higher-ups" is awesome. :)

    And thanks for responding to emails so quickly! You're a role model for all of us drowning in our emails trying to swim out. ;)

  • Misty Jones

    Mike, I think the most exciting thing about this news is trust. It may sound kind of silly, but it’s just like a parent-child relationship – it’s so rewarding when we’re given the chance to use our common sense (and fashion sense, of course) to let us dictate what’s appropriate and what’s not rather than being forced to abide by a set of specific rules. Being told “we trust you, so have a bit of freedom!” by the “higher-ups” is awesome. :)

    And thanks for responding to emails so quickly! You’re a role model for all of us drowning in our emails trying to swim out. ;)

  • Richard Muske

    As one who is benefiting from this policy change, I can certainly attest to the increase in morale and productivity. But what makes a greater impression on me about the company I work for, is the progression. We do not live in formal times anymore and our world is growing increasingly more casual. To work for a company that recognizes that and says "it's okay to be casual" makes me proud that we are on the progressive side of decision making. Let's keep moving forward! Hooray!

  • Richard Muske

    As one who is benefiting from this policy change, I can certainly attest to the increase in morale and productivity. But what makes a greater impression on me about the company I work for, is the progression. We do not live in formal times anymore and our world is growing increasingly more casual. To work for a company that recognizes that and says “it’s okay to be casual” makes me proud that we are on the progressive side of decision making. Let’s keep moving forward! Hooray!

  • http://www.ad1024.wordpress.com/ Andy Depuy

    Mike I someday hope to have the honor to meet you because God has given you a gift which you are doing what God does by listening to his people and that is a gift is listening to the people that work for you and you do it with alot of love which in the work force that does not happen with the top man. Thank you for your honesty and love for people

  • http://www.ad1024.wordpress.com Andy Depuy

    Mike I someday hope to have the honor to meet you because God has given you a gift which you are doing what God does by listening to his people and that is a gift is listening to the people that work for you and you do it with alot of love which in the work force that does not happen with the top man. Thank you for your honesty and love for people

  • http://www.thomasnelson.com/ Lindsey

    I love the dog idea! I have been secretly toying with the idea of suiting up Molly, my pound-pup, and bringing her to the office on Halloween and let her show off her chicken costume.

  • http://www.thomasnelson.com Lindsey

    I love the dog idea! I have been secretly toying with the idea of suiting up Molly, my pound-pup, and bringing her to the office on Halloween and let her show off her chicken costume.

  • Gabe

    The ironic thing is that I've been wearing a blazer with my jeans every day and people are asking me why I'm so dressed up! Thanks again for listening, Mike. I'm grateful that responsiveness is one of your core values!

  • Gabe

    The ironic thing is that I’ve been wearing a blazer with my jeans every day and people are asking me why I’m so dressed up! Thanks again for listening, Mike. I’m grateful that responsiveness is one of your core values!

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Misty,

    I think you are onto something with your trust comment. I know that I always respond positively when people communicate that they trust me. I think most people want to do the right thing.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Misty,

    I think you are onto something with your trust comment. I know that I always respond positively when people communicate that they trust me. I think most people want to do the right thing.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Misty,

    I think you are onto something with your trust comment. I know that I always respond positively when people communicate that they trust me. I think most people want to do the right thing.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Tim

    I loved your approach.

    I think that anything you could do to reduce paper work would be a good opportunity. Particularly if that paper work seems to exist because "the boss doesn't trust me".

    For example, when on the road, I'd rather have a "no-questions-asked-meal-allowance" set at some reasonable level. Then if I keep expenses below that level, we are all happy and no need to go into the nitty-gritty of documenting and receipting every bite.

    There's lot of paper work examples that you could probably look at. Getting rid of it would establish a level of trust in your people and save them hours which could be more productively spent.

  • Tim

    I loved your approach.

    I think that anything you could do to reduce paper work would be a good opportunity. Particularly if that paper work seems to exist because “the boss doesn’t trust me”.

    For example, when on the road, I’d rather have a “no-questions-asked-meal-allowance” set at some reasonable level. Then if I keep expenses below that level, we are all happy and no need to go into the nitty-gritty of documenting and receipting every bite.

    There’s lot of paper work examples that you could probably look at. Getting rid of it would establish a level of trust in your people and save them hours which could be more productively spent.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Tim,

    That is actually a good suggestion. I know we do that with contractors, but I am not sure we can do it with the IRS. They may require the documentation. Regardless, it's worth checking out.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Tim,

    That is actually a good suggestion. I know we do that with contractors, but I am not sure we can do it with the IRS. They may require the documentation. Regardless, it's worth checking out.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Tim,

    That is actually a good suggestion. I know we do that with contractors, but I am not sure we can do it with the IRS. They may require the documentation. Regardless, it’s worth checking out.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Clay

    I feel so much better just knowing TN has gone jeans casual. I'm a Nashville expat in casual Colorado and I wear creased jeans and a sport jacket every day at my little nonprofit ministry office (me and Gabe). I actually tell people it's my Nashville music executive look, but guess I'll have to expand that to publishing now, too. Oh, and one good thing about wearing a nice jacket is it covers up the fact that I buy my jeans at Sam's Club for $12.95. (No one knows I get many of my jackets for $6.00 at Goodwill!) Very cool move, Mike.

  • Clay

    I feel so much better just knowing TN has gone jeans casual. I’m a Nashville expat in casual Colorado and I wear creased jeans and a sport jacket every day at my little nonprofit ministry office (me and Gabe). I actually tell people it’s my Nashville music executive look, but guess I’ll have to expand that to publishing now, too. Oh, and one good thing about wearing a nice jacket is it covers up the fact that I buy my jeans at Sam’s Club for $12.95. (No one knows I get many of my jackets for $6.00 at Goodwill!) Very cool move, Mike.

  • Clay

    I feel so much better just knowing TN has gone jeans casual. I’m a Nashville expat in casual Colorado and I wear creased jeans and a sport jacket every day at my little nonprofit ministry office (me and Gabe). I actually tell people it’s my Nashville music executive look, but guess I’ll have to expand that to publishing now, too. Oh, and one good thing about wearing a nice jacket is it covers up the fact that I buy my jeans at Sam’s Club for $12.95. (No one knows I get many of my jackets for $6.00 at Goodwill!) Very cool move, Mike.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Clay,

    Now I feel better. My daughter's gave me a hard time for buying cheap $29.50 jeans from Old Navy. I just couldn't justify the $150 designer jeans!

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Clay,

    Now I feel better. My daughter’s gave me a hard time for buying cheap $29.50 jeans from Old Navy. I just couldn’t justify the $150 designer jeans!

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Clay,

    Now I feel better. My daughter’s gave me a hard time for buying cheap $29.50 jeans from Old Navy. I just couldn’t justify the $150 designer jeans!

    Mike

  • http://MaryRSnyder.com/ Mary

    It shows that you (and the entire leadership group) care. You care about your people You care about their financial situation. The bottom line is that you care.

    Caring for your people makes a huge difference. It never ceases to amaze me how blessed am I to have published (soon to be) from Thomas Nelson.
    Thanks for caring about the people. You ARE making a difference.

    As for other ideas….. do you have a Starbucks in the building? Free Starbucks coffee daily? Oh, wait, that's what the Dot Com Start Ups offered…. well, never mind. I guess that means the free msssages are out of the question.

  • http://MaryRSnyder.com Mary

    It shows that you (and the entire leadership group) care. You care about your people You care about their financial situation. The bottom line is that you care.

    Caring for your people makes a huge difference. It never ceases to amaze me how blessed am I to have published (soon to be) from Thomas Nelson.
    Thanks for caring about the people. You ARE making a difference.

    As for other ideas….. do you have a Starbucks in the building? Free Starbucks coffee daily? Oh, wait, that’s what the Dot Com Start Ups offered…. well, never mind. I guess that means the free msssages are out of the question.

  • Jim Thomason

    Great post, Sir, but you forgot one important part of the story. We heard back from each and every member of the Executive Leadership Team and the vote for jeans was unanimous.

  • Jim Thomason

    Great post, Sir, but you forgot one important part of the story. We heard back from each and every member of the Executive Leadership Team and the vote for jeans was unanimous.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Jim,

    You're right. I did forget that part! Thanks for the reminder.

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Jim,

    You’re right. I did forget that part! Thanks for the reminder.

    Mike

  • Vilmantas Baranauska

    Freedom matters.

    When I changed my employer more than 3 years ago, I was asked to choose my mobile phone and notebook model. There were some limits but overall I was free to choose anything I like.

    This had a huge impact. I kept telling all my friends for several months about this. I feel good now just remembering the feeling I had then.

    However, not everyone is interested in choosing notebook model. Some people just have no glue and no will to choose a computer. Offer them some "standard" choice. Do not restrict those who care.

    There are many tiny (or big) things which don't cost company much but which have great value to employees.

    Let them choose:
    – office chair;
    – notebook/monitor/keyboard/mouse;
    – mobile phone;
    – plants (you do have some in office, right?).

    As a Christmas gift you may offer employees to spent specific amount of money on their work environment. Maybe some want to spend $200 for a mouse, or buy an Aeron chair (they could save necessary amount over several years).

    Let them choose whenever it doesn't cost too much to your company.

  • Vilmantas Baranauskas

    Freedom matters.

    When I changed my employer more than 3 years ago, I was asked to choose my mobile phone and notebook model. There were some limits but overall I was free to choose anything I like.

    This had a huge impact. I kept telling all my friends for several months about this. I feel good now just remembering the feeling I had then.

    However, not everyone is interested in choosing notebook model. Some people just have no glue and no will to choose a computer. Offer them some “standard” choice. Do not restrict those who care.

    There are many tiny (or big) things which don’t cost company much but which have great value to employees.

    Let them choose:
    – office chair;
    – notebook/monitor/keyboard/mouse;
    – mobile phone;
    – plants (you do have some in office, right?).

    As a Christmas gift you may offer employees to spent specific amount of money on their work environment. Maybe some want to spend $200 for a mouse, or buy an Aeron chair (they could save necessary amount over several years).

    Let them choose whenever it doesn’t cost too much to your company.

  • Vilmantas Baranauskas

    Freedom matters.

    When I changed my employer more than 3 years ago, I was asked to choose my mobile phone and notebook model. There were some limits but overall I was free to choose anything I like.

    This had a huge impact. I kept telling all my friends for several months about this. I feel good now just remembering the feeling I had then.

    However, not everyone is interested in choosing notebook model. Some people just have no glue and no will to choose a computer. Offer them some “standard” choice. Do not restrict those who care.

    There are many tiny (or big) things which don’t cost company much but which have great value to employees.

    Let them choose:
    – office chair;
    – notebook/monitor/keyboard/mouse;
    – mobile phone;
    – plants (you do have some in office, right?).

    As a Christmas gift you may offer employees to spent specific amount of money on their work environment. Maybe some want to spend $200 for a mouse, or buy an Aeron chair (they could save necessary amount over several years).

    Let them choose whenever it doesn’t cost too much to your company.

  • Hannah

    It was amazing how much that one change affected me financially. I was dreading having to go spend money on winter work clothes. Thank you for being considerate of us and not being afraid to take that suggestion and change a long time policy.

  • Hannah

    It was amazing how much that one change affected me financially. I was dreading having to go spend money on winter work clothes. Thank you for being considerate of us and not being afraid to take that suggestion and change a long time policy.

  • Hannah

    It was amazing how much that one change affected me financially. I was dreading having to go spend money on winter work clothes. Thank you for being considerate of us and not being afraid to take that suggestion and change a long time policy.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulmerrill/ Paul Merrill

    I think the response was so positive because your new dress code said we value our people more than tradition.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulmerrill/ Paul Merrill

    I think the response was so positive because your new dress code said we value our people more than tradition.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulmerrill/ Paul Merrill

    I think the response was so positive because your new dress code said we value our people more than tradition.

  • Craig Rairdin

    Why'd you have a dress code to begin with?

    This article could've been about how one little comment caused us to question the whole practice of enforcing a dress code. Instead, you just added one more allowed item to the short list of what your employees are allowed to wear. That's not a big change. It's a non-change disguised as a big change. Which suggests another title change, "How we tricked our employees into thinking we care."

    No offense intended; I hope none is taken. I purposefully do not work at a company with such despotic, archaic policies. Where others choose to work and how they run their companies is their business. It's just that you invited comments, so there you go.

    (And since it's come up, "no dogs" is a good policy. More people are allergic to animal dander than even realize it.)

  • Craig Rairdin

    Why’d you have a dress code to begin with?

    This article could’ve been about how one little comment caused us to question the whole practice of enforcing a dress code. Instead, you just added one more allowed item to the short list of what your employees are allowed to wear. That’s not a big change. It’s a non-change disguised as a big change. Which suggests another title change, “How we tricked our employees into thinking we care.”

    No offense intended; I hope none is taken. I purposefully do not work at a company with such despotic, archaic policies. Where others choose to work and how they run their companies is their business. It’s just that you invited comments, so there you go.

    (And since it’s come up, “no dogs” is a good policy. More people are allergic to animal dander than even realize it.)

  • Craig Rairdin

    Why’d you have a dress code to begin with?

    This article could’ve been about how one little comment caused us to question the whole practice of enforcing a dress code. Instead, you just added one more allowed item to the short list of what your employees are allowed to wear. That’s not a big change. It’s a non-change disguised as a big change. Which suggests another title change, “How we tricked our employees into thinking we care.”

    No offense intended; I hope none is taken. I purposefully do not work at a company with such despotic, archaic policies. Where others choose to work and how they run their companies is their business. It’s just that you invited comments, so there you go.

    (And since it’s come up, “no dogs” is a good policy. More people are allergic to animal dander than even realize it.)

  • http://themondaynut.wordpress.com/ Brent Beckley

    Do the employees feel like they play a real part in the company, or do they simply follow what the executive team says? I would suggest that each person is an "expert" in their particular part of the equation and should be regularly consulted as to how they would change policies. I believe that employees who feel like more of the process are happier and more productive. If you haven't read it, take a look at The Medici Effect. Changed my whole perception on the transfer of ideas and how people value their contributions to the "society" (i.e. business). I like the new dress code, but there are bigger fish to fry.

  • http://themondaynut.wordpress.com/ Brent Beckley

    Do the employees feel like they play a real part in the company, or do they simply follow what the executive team says? I would suggest that each person is an “expert” in their particular part of the equation and should be regularly consulted as to how they would change policies. I believe that employees who feel like more of the process are happier and more productive. If you haven’t read it, take a look at The Medici Effect. Changed my whole perception on the transfer of ideas and how people value their contributions to the “society” (i.e. business). I like the new dress code, but there are bigger fish to fry.

  • http://themondaynut.wordpress.com Brent Beckley

    Do the employees feel like they play a real part in the company, or do they simply follow what the executive team says? I would suggest that each person is an “expert” in their particular part of the equation and should be regularly consulted as to how they would change policies. I believe that employees who feel like more of the process are happier and more productive. If you haven’t read it, take a look at The Medici Effect. Changed my whole perception on the transfer of ideas and how people value their contributions to the “society” (i.e. business). I like the new dress code, but there are bigger fish to fry.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Brent: Let’s see if any of our employees comment here. I don’t want to speak for them.

    Regardless, I agree with you. Employees are an important part of the process. I will indeed take a look at The Medici Effect. Thanks.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Brent: Let's see if any of our employees comment here. I don't want to speak for them.

    Regardless, I agree with you. Employees are an important part of the process. I will indeed take a look at The Medici Effect. Thanks.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Brent: Let’s see if any of our employees comment here. I don’t want to speak for them.

    Regardless, I agree with you. Employees are an important part of the process. I will indeed take a look at The Medici Effect. Thanks.

  • Janie

    The comapnay I used to work for went back and forth a few times, changing the dress code. The switch to jeans from business casual was a huge morale booster for me. Wearing my jeans and a sweater in the winter simply made it easier to get out the door in the morning, and stay comfortable all day.

  • Janie

    The comapnay I used to work for went back and forth a few times, changing the dress code. The switch to jeans from business casual was a huge morale booster for me. Wearing my jeans and a sweater in the winter simply made it easier to get out the door in the morning, and stay comfortable all day.

  • Jake

    I have heard of companies that went casual then went back to “professional” because they said production increased when people dressed up and took what they were doing more seriously. I also know that I get more done at home when I get completely dressed and wear serious shoes. Is it an accident that the colder places on earth where people tend to wear more clothing are also the most productive places on earth? Casual sometimes goes down hill into immodest. And immodest gets to be distracting. How do you keep that from happening?

    Incidently, I am not against casual at church because I think the devil did a good day’s work when clothing entered the field of human necessity. It certainly is a barrier to people attending church. I think the perfect church has people attending who are dressed up, and with about the same number of people in jeans or casual. That way, when a first time visitor comes, he will feel appropriate no matter how he is dressed. Some who dress up every day don’t feel right when they are in public but not dressed up. On the other hand, no one would feel like they had to dress in order to go.

  • Jake

    I have heard of companies that went casual then went back to "professional" because they said production increased when people dressed up and took what they were doing more seriously. I also know that I get more done at home when I get completely dressed and wear serious shoes. Is it an accident that the colder places on earth where people tend to wear more clothing are also the most productive places on earth? Casual sometimes goes down hill into immodest. And immodest gets to be distracting. How do you keep that from happening?

    Incidently, I am not against casual at church because I think the devil did a good day's work when clothing entered the field of human necessity. It certainly is a barrier to people attending church. I think the perfect church has people attending who are dressed up, and with about the same number of people in jeans or casual. That way, when a first time visitor comes, he will feel appropriate no matter how he is dressed. Some who dress up every day don't feel right when they are in public but not dressed up. On the other hand, no one would feel like they had to dress in order to go.

  • Jake

    I have heard of companies that went casual then went back to “professional” because they said production increased when people dressed up and took what they were doing more seriously. I also know that I get more done at home when I get completely dressed and wear serious shoes. Is it an accident that the colder places on earth where people tend to wear more clothing are also the most productive places on earth? Casual sometimes goes down hill into immodest. And immodest gets to be distracting. How do you keep that from happening?

    Incidently, I am not against casual at church because I think the devil did a good day’s work when clothing entered the field of human necessity. It certainly is a barrier to people attending church. I think the perfect church has people attending who are dressed up, and with about the same number of people in jeans or casual. That way, when a first time visitor comes, he will feel appropriate no matter how he is dressed. Some who dress up every day don’t feel right when they are in public but not dressed up. On the other hand, no one would feel like they had to dress in order to go.

  • http://www.greenleafpress.com/ Rob Shearer

    Great post – and the morale effect is real. But it may not be what was changed, so much as the fact that you thought about the employees and did something – almost anything.

    See, for example, the celebrated "Hawthorne Effect." When the lighting was increased at the Hawthorne Co., productivity went up. Weeks later, when the lighting was decreased, productivity also went up. Each time a change was made, productivity went up – temporarily. Turns out, employees are motivated when somebody pays attention to them. Doesn't matter what you do… just paying attention to them makes them more productive.

  • http://www.greenleafpress.com/ Rob Shearer

    Great post – and the morale effect is real. But it may not be what was changed, so much as the fact that you thought about the employees and did something – almost anything.

    See, for example, the celebrated “Hawthorne Effect.” When the lighting was increased at the Hawthorne Co., productivity went up. Weeks later, when the lighting was decreased, productivity also went up. Each time a change was made, productivity went up – temporarily. Turns out, employees are motivated when somebody pays attention to them. Doesn’t matter what you do… just paying attention to them makes them more productive.

  • http://www.greenleafpress.com Rob Shearer

    Great post – and the morale effect is real. But it may not be what was changed, so much as the fact that you thought about the employees and did something – almost anything.

    See, for example, the celebrated “Hawthorne Effect.” When the lighting was increased at the Hawthorne Co., productivity went up. Weeks later, when the lighting was decreased, productivity also went up. Each time a change was made, productivity went up – temporarily. Turns out, employees are motivated when somebody pays attention to them. Doesn’t matter what you do… just paying attention to them makes them more productive.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com/ Matt

    I don’t wear jeans. I haven’t since I was old enough to buy my own clothes. I prefer gaberdines, flannels, and herringbone tweeds, with turned up cuffs and two pleats.

    I wouldn’t enjoy working in a company where everyone, or almost everyone wears dungarees.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Matt

    I don’t wear jeans. I haven’t since I was old enough to buy my own clothes. I prefer gaberdines, flannels, and herringbone tweeds, with turned up cuffs and two pleats.

    I wouldn’t enjoy working in a company where everyone, or almost everyone wears dungarees.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com/ Matt

    I don't wear jeans. I haven't since I was old enough to buy my own clothes. I prefer gaberdines, flannels, and herringbone tweeds, with turned up cuffs and two pleats.

    I wouldn't enjoy working in a company where everyone, or almost everyone wears dungarees.

  • Sammy J

    Michael,
    We spend a lot of our lives at work. Traditionally, it’s been about 1/3, but nowadays, I wouldn’t be surprised the average is 1/2 of our lives spent working. I think allowing jeans at work helps our time spent at work feel more integrated into our daily lives. In effect, you’re not dressing for work, you’re dressing as you normally would, so there’s less of a distinction. Does that make sense?

    Either way, it’s funny how sometimes, the smallest details can have such an impact on morale.

  • Sammy J

    Michael,
    We spend a lot of our lives at work. Traditionally, it’s been about 1/3, but nowadays, I wouldn’t be surprised the average is 1/2 of our lives spent working. I think allowing jeans at work helps our time spent at work feel more integrated into our daily lives. In effect, you’re not dressing for work, you’re dressing as you normally would, so there’s less of a distinction. Does that make sense?

    Either way, it’s funny how sometimes, the smallest details can have such an impact on morale.

  • Sammy J

    Michael,
    We spend a lot of our lives at work. Traditionally, it's been about 1/3, but nowadays, I wouldn't be surprised the average is 1/2 of our lives spent working. I think allowing jeans at work helps our time spent at work feel more integrated into our daily lives. In effect, you're not dressing for work, you're dressing as you normally would, so there's less of a distinction. Does that make sense?

    Either way, it's funny how sometimes, the smallest details can have such an impact on morale.

  • Brad C

    I live in Colorado, known for being very casual. I worked in places with both a dress code and places without. It is the little things that make a difference. One company I use to work for, someone came from the East Coast and they were “appalled” how no one dresses up here. Because of that, word got out in a memo that it was time to crackdown on the dress code. One of the big things they aimed at was banning blue jeans. Word got out after the memo of what happened. Luckily, some people in management (local) pushed back. But they knuckled down for about 6 months before finally pushing back.

    On the crackdown, they cracked down so hard that casual Fridays were eliminated and as a “bonus”, if you traveled on business even on Saturday or Sunday, you were expected to abide by the company dress code. However, you were not paid for that time though.

  • Brad C

    I live in Colorado, known for being very casual. I worked in places with both a dress code and places without. It is the little things that make a difference. One company I use to work for, someone came from the East Coast and they were “appalled” how no one dresses up here. Because of that, word got out in a memo that it was time to crackdown on the dress code. One of the big things they aimed at was banning blue jeans. Word got out after the memo of what happened. Luckily, some people in management (local) pushed back. But they knuckled down for about 6 months before finally pushing back.

    On the crackdown, they cracked down so hard that casual Fridays were eliminated and as a “bonus”, if you traveled on business even on Saturday or Sunday, you were expected to abide by the company dress code. However, you were not paid for that time though.

  • Brad C

    I live in Colorado, known for being very casual. I worked in places with both a dress code and places without. It is the little things that make a difference. One company I use to work for, someone came from the East Coast and they were "appalled" how no one dresses up here. Because of that, word got out in a memo that it was time to crackdown on the dress code. One of the big things they aimed at was banning blue jeans. Word got out after the memo of what happened. Luckily, some people in management (local) pushed back. But they knuckled down for about 6 months before finally pushing back.

    On the crackdown, they cracked down so hard that casual Fridays were eliminated and as a "bonus", if you traveled on business even on Saturday or Sunday, you were expected to abide by the company dress code. However, you were not paid for that time though.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DennisPreston DennisPreston

    Michael, I'm new to your blog but saw this and wanted to comment. This idea may have already been communicated before, but to me, bears repeating again. More than the external issue of what people wear, this was (to me) a value issue. As in, what the company values, and that is its people. Maxwell has quoted someone who says that a leader's main job is to define reality. In defining reality, which really comes down to choices, you're also defining what is not reality. The reality defined by this decision is that "our people matter to us," and not, "what you wear and how well you keep up with the Jones in the office does not." It also defines that the organization is not about the externals, but about what it does to enhance the human condition. A subtle change, but a big impact. Great decision.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DennisPreston DennisPreston

    Michael, I'm new to your blog but saw this and wanted to comment. This idea may have already been communicated before, but to me, bears repeating again. More than the external issue of what people wear, this was (to me) a value issue. As in, what the company values, and that is its people. Maxwell has quoted someone who says that a leader's main job is to define reality. In defining reality, which really comes down to choices, you're also defining what is not reality. The reality defined by this decision is that "our people matter to us," and not, "what you wear and how well you keep up with the Jones in the office does not." It also defines that the organization is not about the externals, but about what it does to enhance the human condition. A subtle change, but a big impact. Great decision.

  • Pingback: · Changing Cultures & Business Casual()

  • Barb Rosmus

    I think people responded so favorably because this showed you valued them for THEM and their abilities, not for what they wear. Good for you!!! Barb

  • Barb Rosmus

    I think people responded so favorably because this showed you valued them for THEM and their abilities, not for what they wear. Good for you!!! Barb

  • Ken

    downward changes are always easer than up-ward changes. Things run naturally downhill.

  • Anonymous

    wow im a high school student and i think uniforms are ok i guess???

  • juliana

    In school we are hear to learn not get in trouble for silly things.

  • Gru

    I work for a large government contractor and just ran into this problem myself. The ONLY answers management could give me was “That’s the policy, and that’s how it’s always been.” I dared to wear shorts (nice ones) on a day when it was 114 outside. I do 90% of my job from my desk. I’m on a production facility where the factory guys can wear jeans & t-shirts, but we’re a separate business unit and our managers have decided that we need to “dress a step above” instead of matching the site’s dress code. No reason other than “we need to look professional.” For who? I’m supposed to do my job from my desk. 

    So looking forward to a job that puts more value on employee productivity than what I wore to work that day.