Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts


Bagin, Don


Dress codes in the workplace; Employee morale; Labor productivity


Public Relations and Advertising


The purpose of this study was to provide managers and key decision makers insight into how casual dress work environments compare to traditional corporate cultures by assessing the impact of casual dress on employee morale and productivity, two vital influencers of the bottom line.

Using a survey, based on a literature review, the author surveyed 148 human resources and performance management professionals serving in a human resources capacity in American companies. Responses were hand-coded and double-checked for accuracy.

This study has indicated that, overall, employee morale does improve as dress codes become more casual. However, the percentage of those surveyed that agree with this (65 percent) is lower than in previous studies.

Overall, human resources professionals indicated that productivity decreases as dress codes become more casual, but the results differ depending on the size of the company. In very small companies (one to 25 employees), it was found that 36 percent of respondents felt that productivity increases and another 36 percent felt that it decreases as dress codes become more casual. In slightly larger companies (26 to 100 employees), human resources professionals felt that productivity slightly decreased as dress codes became more casual. In companies even larger, approximately half of the respondents (53 percent) felt that there was no change and approximately 40 percent felt that it improved to some degree.

In companies of 501 to 1000 employees, opinion bounced back the other way again with half of those surveyed feeling that productivity decreases when dress codes became more casual. In companies with more than 1000 employees, the tide turned once again with an equal number of respondents believing that casual dress codes either had no effect on or improved employee productivity.