In many call centers and offices, the dress code has become the most talked about and over-regulated part of the company. With that, the biggest dress code rule that gets more people send home/suspended/FIRED is?
Some companies allow backless but not open toe. Others allow open toe but not backless. Some allow one side OR the other to be open at once. Others allow open shoes, but nylons must be worn with them.
Then there is the sandal vs. flip flop debate.
Companies have no problem making customers wait on hold an extra 17 minutes because 7 team members out of 20 phone reps got sent home due to nitpicky shoe rules. Companies will try to justify the issue, and claim it is against health codes, insurance, or maybe the filing cabinet that takes three people and a forklift to move will fall on your foot because your shoe is too open.
A few items should be cleared up here:
- Health departments ONLY inspect food preparation, storage, and cleanliness of FOOD employees. Even so, the only ones inspected are the ones PREPARING food.
- Insurance companies do not write policies regarding employee footwear – or even customer footwear. Insurance companies do not care what shoes people are wearing when writing policies.
- NO ONE regulates the wearing of socks or nylons.
- Companies like Gusto.com even REQUIRE no shoes inside the building.
With other news reports sharing how sitting down all day at a desk is bad news for health, shoes should be the last thing on an HR list of complaints. Experts have said sitting for 8 hours at work is equally bad for your body as smoking over 2 packs of cigarettes. Companies are still requiring employees to be seated at their desk for their entire shift, and of course with the theory of loking professional, call centers can get archaic with dress code rules. Keep in mind also there is absolutely ZERO customer interaction on a face to face basis. Customers have become used to wearing open shoes, and most in the summer time will be sporting a pair of sandals.
As more people are living a barefoot lifestyle, the “millenials” and other groups no longer want to pushed into wearing high heels and closed shoes on a regular basis simply for answering telephone calls in an office far from walk in customers.
What is it that employees are seeking to be health conscious – and still be focused on the office work professionalism.
Here are some guidelines that employees would really enjoy:
- LOSE THE OLD SCHOOL SHOE RULES. Please allow backless AND open toe shoes (on the same shoe). The average person wears sandals now on a regular basis when weather permits. Toes and heels are no longer considered “private parts.”
- NYLONS NO LONGER NEEDED. Nylons are no longer considered required for females in the corporate world. You will rarely see anyone under 50 wearing these by choice in the warmer months.
- BARE SANDALS ARE NOT OFFENSIVE. If a sandal has a ring around the big toe or a thong strap between the toes, the employee can still be professional. Leather sandals can still be dressy and professional regardless of where the straps over the foot may lay.
- WE AGREE PLASTIC FLIP FLOPS ARE UNSUITABLE IN SOME CASES. If there is interaction with the public, we will support a decision to not allow the cheapie plastic flip flops. Sitting at a call center while staring at a wall on the phone all still should not matter for “shoe professionalism” – but if other options of leather dressy open sandals are allowed, we can come to an agreement here.
- SHOES OFF UNDER THE DESK Employees now are stuck wearing closed shoes for 8 or more hours at work and complain about calf and foot pain. If the employee wants some pain relief and kicks them off under the desk, some get sent home and written up! Sending an employee home because their shoes hurt is a senseless reason to lose productive customer service employees.
- ALLOW GROUNDING MATS Grounding has become a hot health trend over the past several years. Normally you would walk outside on a grassy field barefoot. However, since people are on the phones, the grassy field now comes to them. Grounding mats, such as the Serenity Rug, can be placed under a desk and used to simulate the earthing affect. This will alleviate some of the sitting down pains from working all day.
In hard economic times, people will gladly take freedom in place of a raise. At the same time a company can help their employees feel better and get a little healthier! As more millenials enter the workforce, and as health concerns mount, it would be a win for everyone on all sides.