Would You Wear Flip Flops to Work? – Plus the 7 Gov Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Just a few years ago social media was seen as an adolescent playground. Selfies, Facebook pokes, and pointless status updates created what seemed to be a cesspool of millennial playtime. Times have changed. If you don’t have an ongoing social media campaign you’re out of the loop and your business is behind. Check out what the DorobekINSIDER panel of experts had to say.

You can find all of our programs online: DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

But up front: Dealing with the dreaded dress code

Would you wear flip flops to work?

It has been noted that this is the first time in history that we have four (almost five) generations working in the workplace. Those different dress codes have very different views on what one can wear at work.

This is a particular challenge for government where public employees tend to get greater… oversight. And even more of an issue these days for events.

I’m sure there are all sorts of stories out there. One senior government official told me about a young worker who showed up to work in a soccer uniform. Apparently she had soccer after work and was going to the game right after work.

Many government related groups are also working to try to assess dress codes. One group recently had a discussion on this topic for a government industry event and the discussion was fascinating. Curiously to me, there were a number of government people pushing for government to dress more like Silicon Valley, ie business casual — no suits and ties.

Dress codes are fraught with complexity because how people dress is such a personal issue — not to mention potential issues of discrimination. Even the Marine Corps does not set a specific policy. That being said, they state what seems obvious and most important:

As a Civilian Marine your dress and appearance will communicate a lot about your competence, ability, and value to your organization. You should be sure to communicate with your new office regarding standards of appearance and dress codes. When in doubt, always overdress. You can easily assume more casual appearance after your initial arrival on duty.

The Small Business Administration has its dress code policy posted. The most salient point:

Be practical when creating an appropriate dress code policy for your work environment.Consider what attire would be appropriate for the types of jobs that your employees will be carrying out. If your dress code policy is not congruent with your industry, you’ll open yourself up for discord in the office and potentially face discrimination claims.

I have posted a number of resources below. In general, for me, what I wear is, essentially, my costume. (I worked at Disneyland during college and Walt Disney always used theater references. Disney doesn’t have customers; people are guests. The area that the guests don’t see is ‘back-stage,’ as opposed to being ‘on stage;’ and people don’t wear uniforms. They wear costumes.) My ‘costume’ says something about me — and, in general, I agree with the Marines, I want to overdress. The only way I want people noticing my clothes is that I look good and professional — and then they can focus on the work that is actually getting done.

Furthermore, while I understand the notion of government being more like Silicon Valley, let’s be honest: It isn’t. To be completely frank, if I was trying to be like Silicon Valley, the way they dress seems far down the list of places to start. Getting a procurement system that enables people to buy technology quickly seems much more essential. That being said, Google only has to satisfy its shareholders. That isn’t the world of government. Government has already had experience with conferences that went astray — and there have been painful ramifications for years. There is much data showing a wide chasm between public servants and the public, and I’m not sure anybody wants to send a message that these work events are anything but work.

That being said, I’m not sure I would enlist a specific dress code. In general, people will figure it out — in general.

Your thoughts? Do you have experiences with dress codes — or inappropriate situations — and how did you deal with it… and do you think there should be a government dress code. And does how one dresses impact productivity and innovation?


SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. AP: Senate Chairman Warns Against Border Policy Change- “ The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it’s not acceptable to change U.S. policy to speed Central American kids home faster from the border without court hearings.”

  2. ABC News: Republicans Criticize Handling of IRS Inquiry- “Republicans chastised the Justice Department on Thursday for failing to share information with Congress about its investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Lawmakers called anew for a special prosecutor to look into the matter.”

  3. FCW: Why the Apple-IBM deal could be a game-changer for Government- “Apple is a company known for charting its own path. But a new collaboration with IBM, announced July 15, alters that reputation, and with it maybe the future of mobile enterprise commuting experts say.”

  4. Nextgov: Hearing: VBA Changed Dates on Claims to Make Them Look New: “The Veterans Benefits Administration changed dates on claims to make them appear new, manipulated data, and misplaced and possibly shredded thousands of claims documents, VBA employees and the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general told a House VA committee last night.”

  5. Defense One: If the Pentagon Buys Less, It Needs to Invest More- “The United States defense budget is in transition, adjusting to new realities following more than a decade of war. As we have observed in past drawdowns, typically the first casualty of peace is Pentagon spending on research, development, test and evaluation, known as RDT&E. This is inevitable: spending is protected for military personnel needs, buying legacy weapons already in production, and to fund sustainment programs – but research and development typically pays the bill, and that is unfortunate.”

  6. MSNBC: Still no decisions at the U.S.-Mexico border- “Congress continues to deny fulfilling President Barack Obama’s multi-billion request for emergency funding to deal with the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson once again made his case for the Obama administration’s$3.7 billion appeal during a two-hour presentation in front of U.S. senators on Wednesday night. He refused to share with reporters details about the senators’ reactions. But legislators from both parties said there was bipartisan concern when officials estimated that the current cost of supporting one unaccompanied child is between $250 and $1,000 each day.”

  7. Penny Pritzker: The Commerce Department will hire a Chief Data Officer

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

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