Workplace revolution: What does dressed for success mean in 2013?

Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 12:44 p.m. MDT

Chase Johnson rides a scooter to his meeting as Kristina Tree watches at CHG Healthcare in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Need a job? Wear a skirt or tie to the interview.

Have a job? Workplace attire just might mean something else.

Workplace attire is undergoing a revolution of sorts. In some workplaces, what was once “casual Friday” has become “business normal” throughout the work week. Shirts and ties for men and skirts and blazers for women are still in play, but not nearly to the degree they were in previous years.

Take Holladay-based CHG Healthcare Services, for example.

One of the largest health care staffing companies in the country, finding a tie or skirt among its 800-plus employees on any given day could be virtually impossible. Most men wear jeans, flip-flops. Some wear T-shirts and ball caps, golf shirts or a long-sleeve casual shirt. For the women, there are plenty of denim jeans or shorts; sandals and causal tops abound.

While casual attire is quite the norm at CHG, the culture of the business is to foster a comfortable, positive work environment that breeds motivated employees who excel at their jobs.

“We don’t put so much emphasis on dress codes,” said Chad Beals, director of Talent Acquisition for CHG Healthcare. “We put emphasis on helping our people be successful.”

He explained that people could express their individuality in their attire as long as their wardrobe was not offensive or too revealing.

In January, Fortune Magazine ranked CHG Healthcare Services No. 3 in its 2013 survey of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. The CHG family of companies employs 1,500 people nationwide, including 850 workers in Utah.

Among the reasons for that ranking was that the company takes seriously its mission to create an enjoyable and productive workplace for all of its employees, he said.

“Our focus is always on how is our culture going to be encouraging people to be their most successful,” said CHG Healthcare public relations and content manager Eric Ethington.

While CHG Healthcare employees may dress more casually once they are hired, Beals acknowledged that a more traditional approach is expected for the job interview.

He said prospective employees should be dressed in usual business attire such as a suit when going through the interview process.

“You only have one chance to make a first impression,” Beals said.

That sentiment was echoed in a recent survey from Office Team indicating that eight in 10 executives interviewed said clothing choices affect an employee's chances of earning a promotion.

For those who may be wardrobe-challenged the report stated that the good news was that proper attire might carry less weight than it did six years ago.

Ninety-three percent of executives surveyed in 2007 tied professional wear to advancement prospects. Among those respondents, a third said clothing significantly affected a person's chances of moving up the ladder, versus just 8 percent who feel this way today.

The survey was conducted based on interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

Managers also were asked to recount the strangest outfits they have heard of or seen someone wearing to work, not including Halloween. Responses included a dinosaur costume, pajamas, a chicken suit, coveralls, a space suit and a wolf mask.

Among the more “inappropriate” workday wardrobes were "a see-through dress," fishnet stockings and stilettos, a bathing suit, a tube top, a muscle shirt, yoga pants and “very tight bike shorts."

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