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Bank brings dress code to a new level with 43-page guide

Many companies have dress codes. Some are formal, requiring suits and ties or other appropriate dress. Most today are less so, stipulating professional dress while being careful to inscribe a few basic ground rules in the H.R. handbook for the sartorially inept. No flip flops, for instance. Or midriffs. Or cutoff shorts.

But the Swiss bank UBS is taking the dress code concept to a whole new level. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that UBS is sending some of its retail banking staffers a 43-page code that advises them on everything from how much makeup women should wear (a light application of foundation, mascara and "discreet" lipstick "will enhance your personality") to how often men should get their hair cut (every four weeks).

The company says the document was originally written for temporary staffers who had not worked in banks before, and is only a test program that could be scrapped later on. But even for a Swiss bank, the dress code is a study in extreme micromanagement and reveals a misplaced focus on what customers see rather than how customers are treated.

The rules, as reported in the Journal, are more akin to what one might find in a Swiss boarding school. Employees shouldn't eat garlic or onions or wear too much perfume. Women are advised to get a stylish haircut, avoid trendy spectacles, and make sure they don't let their roots show if they color their hair. Men shouldn't hang their suits on wire hangers, don socks so short their skin shows while sitting, or use tie knots that don't match face and body shape (whatever that means). And heaven forbid they dye their hair to cover the gray: "artificial color contrasts excessively with the actual age of your skin."

Sure, first impressions count. And requiring bank employees who interact with customers to wear dark, conservative suits and maintain appropriate standards of dress and hygiene is completely understandable. But by laying out in excruciating detail what those appropriate standards are, UBS risks making staffers feel like the bank thinks they are unsophisticated children who can't be trusted to dress like a professional adult. As with other forms of micromanagement, UBS's 43-page dress code test could instill, over time, a culture of distrust.

And in a customer service setting, which UBS's retail banks are, that could have severe unintended consequences. The single most commonly cited rule of great customer service organizations is to empower and trust front-line employees to make decisions that help the customer. While what they wear may not seem like it has much to do with helping clients, such painstakingly written rules inevitably strips employees of a sense of empowerment.

As a result, when they are confronted with a customer service dilemma that could mean the difference between winning or losing a high-income customer, the last thing UBS should want employees to think about is having to check a rule book. They should trust their gut on what the right thing is to do. But if a company can't hire people who they trust to wear the right thing to work, how can it trust them to make the right call for customers?

Also in On Leadership:

Turning off American 'auto' pilot: An interview with the CEO of GM

The contradiction of Richard Holbrooke

Cam Newton wins Heisman: Overlooking integrity issues for star performers?

Boehner's 'cry' for common ground

President Obama: The next Clinton, Carter or Truman?

By Jena McGregor

 |  December 15, 2010; 12:17 PM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Corporate leadership , Culture Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The contradiction of Richard Holbrooke | Next: Obama's CEO meeting: 'Uncertainty' an excuse for hoarding profits?

Comments

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Perhaps they should place more emphasis on morality and ethics in business.

And thanking their depositors for giving them free money with which to speculate and receive fat bonuses from the fruits of those that save and work for a living.

Posted by: wesatch | December 16, 2010 1:07 PM

There was a great book written by Bert Darga, in 1985 titled, "The Executive Source Book."

It covered everything: "Executive Style" (dress, travel, luggage, attache cases, etc.), essential services, electronic tools, an executive management library, building a career, etc.

Although this book is severely outdated (imagine the computers that were in use in 1985- Apple III and IBM PC), with a little polish and using the basics within the book for dress, the content is invaluable.

Employees need to understand that people who work in the areas involving personal contact with customers, are required to wear "appropriate attire." this goes from the professional dealer at a BlackJack table to a loan officer at a financial institution.

If one dresses like a bum, the perception of insitutional incompetance and sloppiness exists within an organization.

Some of these young folks doing the complaining, have never had to run a business. Guess what? This isn't a bong shop or a health foods store. It's a financial instituion. Get over it.

Also, pick up a few books by Letitia Baldrige, on manners and etiquette.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 16, 2010 11:15 AM

I all for this dress code, I would add that women in command positions have to wear suits, if that isn't implied by the other part of the code. Who in their right mind trusts a banker you is dressed too trendy, or even worst sloppily. You can bet any abnormal banker is trying to sell you a derivative based on a lot of math, and no sense.
I think all US banks should follow suit.

Now, for engineering companies the opposite is true.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | December 16, 2010 11:08 AM

Sounds like it was written by Stacy London. She's probably crying tears of joy right about now: "They really do listen."

Posted by: forgetthis | December 16, 2010 10:30 AM

So they should only care about high income customers? You're all cut from the same cloth.

Posted by: forgetthis | December 16, 2010 10:13 AM

I'd like to recommend a dress code for female employees of UBS:

Female employees should have weight proportionate to height, with muscular calves, and cup size not less than C. Employees should wear low-cut tops with push-up bras, skirts at least 3 inches about the knee, no underwear, no stockings, and 4-inch red f-me pumps.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 16, 2010 10:09 AM

This is the United Bank of Scotland we're talking about.

Scotland.

Men in kilts.

Consider the source.

Posted by: bs2004 | December 16, 2010 10:08 AM

Two basic rules of the workplace:

Rule 1: The boss is always right.

Rule 2: See rule number 1.

Posted by: catskillhillbilly | December 16, 2010 9:03 AM

Match your tie knot to your face shape? I though you matched it to the type of collar of your shirt?

Posted by: Garak | December 16, 2010 8:06 AM

These rules are only common sense. As an accountant, I have always dressed in similar fashion. It should be required in the U.S. of A.

Posted by: fstrimper | December 16, 2010 7:16 AM

A commentor wrote: "I trust that most people today use good judgment when it comes to work attire."

__________

I take it you haven't had anyone come to work wearing a see-through tank top yet (and yes, I mean see-through). With short shorts and very stylish (and expensive) jeweled flip-flops. And yes, this person greets the public...and yes, they were sent home. Again, dress codes exist because "good judgment" is in the eye of the beholder. And there was a great deal of beholding and very little business getting done....the individual by the way, thought all the staring was genuine admiration. Which it might very well have been--but not for their business sense.

Posted by: mil1 | December 15, 2010 9:36 PM

Has this bank polled any customers about what makes them most comfortable when dealing with bank staff? When I see a suit, I am immediately on guard. Sorry to all who wear suits day in and day out as part of their normal attire, but this style of dress is passing, let's face it. Suits and fancy dresses should be for parties. Daily working attire should of course reflect the local culture, but I think this bank doesn't recognize that the culture is changing. I am much more open to starting a business relationship with a company whose staff wears clothing that is relaxed and unpretentious.

Posted by: ceblakeney | December 15, 2010 7:57 PM

And I assume all staff members will be getting a cost of living raise so they can spend more time getting haircuts, having color done more often and purchase sturdy wooden or molded hangers for their suits. I think if I worked there, I'd dye my hair blue to avoid being thought of as one of the drones. Or is it clones?

Posted by: MNUSA | December 15, 2010 7:30 PM

In 1970 the dress code issue at a bank in Richmond, Virginia was women who wanted to wear a pant suit to work instead of a dress.

When discussing the dress code with employee representatives, the president of the bank cracked "Our women can come to work in pants when the men are wearing skirts".

In a show of soladarity with the women, the men came to work one day in kilts.

This story should be in the archives of the Washington Post for 1970 (possibly 1971) because that's where I read it.

Posted by: knorth2 | December 15, 2010 7:26 PM

if you don't want to dress the way the employer wants then don't apply there...you hemp clothes wearing folks can't wear that at McD's....but I guess if you can't just do what feels good...it's facism!

Posted by: getagrip5 | December 15, 2010 7:07 PM

Dress codes are for my parent's generation - the Mad Men generation. I trust that most people today use good judgement when it comes to work attire. However, I truly believe that men (and women) in this day and age who insist on wearing suits. regardless of occasion, in my opinion are wearing suits because they feel they have nothing else to offer when in fact it's their ideas I value, not their wardrobe. As a manager, I value and respect people for their diverse ideas, skills and opinions, not their wardrobe, their gender or the color of their skin. People are more productive when they are comfortable. As a man, I feel that wearing a tie, as my father did is like wearing a noose or a lease. I can only imagine what my mother's generation of women felt like having to wear pantyhose and push up bras. Come to think of it, that generation drank heavily.

Posted by: bvguse | December 15, 2010 7:03 PM

Dress codes are for my parent's generation - the Mad Men generation. I trust that most people today use good judgement when it comes to work attire. However, I truly believe that men (and women) in this day and age who insist on wearing suits. regardless of occassion, in my opinion are wearing suits because they feel they have nothing else to offer when in fact it's their ideas I value, not their wardrobe. As a manager, I value and respect people for their diverse ideas, skills and opinions, not their wardrobe, their gender or the color of their skin. People are more productive when they are comfortable. As a man, I feel that wearing a tie, as my father did is like wearing a noose or a lease. I can only imagine what my mother's generation of women felt like having to wear pantyhose and push up bras. Come to think of it, that generation drank heavily.

Posted by: bvguse | December 15, 2010 7:02 PM

A commentor wrote:

"The bank's rules are possibly illegal, an infringement on personal privacy, an invasion of basic human rights, a violation of basic human rights, grounds for multiple lawsuits, idiotic, moronic, psychotic, overkill, over-controlling, unprofessional, Draconian (it's capitalized), asinine, inept, corrupt, unethical, dumb, and just plain stupid."

_________
No, it isn't any of these things. It is a dress code and nothing more--if you can't follow it as an employee then it may be that this company will consider your appearance a determent to bringing in customers. It's ok for a company to decide these things. If you can't follow dress rules there are others wanting to be hired that can. You would do better to seek employment where there isn't a dress code (good luck with that by the way, even Wal-Mart and the Naked News employees have a code).
___________________

Another commentor wrote:

"Many of our most successful companies lately...Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others practically ban dress suits. Many of our failed companies have (or had) executive office dress codes mimicking that of UBS...AIG, GM, Chrysler, Enron, MCI-Worldcom, Tyco International. Coincidence???...you tell me."

______________

Yes, this is a coincidence. I am sure you are being sarcastic but the fact is these two different business cultures--one has made it's mark on being iconoclastic (Google etc) the other on being traditional). You need to look at USB bottom line--they can't be compared to the other traditional companies you've listed.

Posted by: mil1 | December 15, 2010 6:39 PM

Posted by: danceblade
...As a man I wear everything from jeans to a tuxedo at times--it all depends on the circumstance. If I am in doubt I ask my wife, something I think more men should do more often!
*******************
I agree. Now, what's your wife's name and how can I get in touch with her?

Posted by: overed | December 15, 2010 6:30 PM

"But even for a Swiss bank, the dress code is a study in extreme micromanagement and reveals a misplaced focus on what customers see rather than how customers are treated."

______________________

Need to look at Disney rules, last July they changed for the first time in 10 years:

"Pantyhose are no longer mandatory with skirts (whew!), and ladies can finally sport sleeveless tops as long as the straps measure three inches wide, the newspaper reports.

Also new on the proper attire list: Capri pants and sling-back shoes.....Still, this is the first major adaptation to the theme parks' dress code since 2000, when male employees were allowed to wear mustaches. Disney tweaked its rules a few years later to allow males to wear their hair in cornrows.

The company said its updated code followed a review of professional dress rules at other Fortune 500 companies." (quote from stylelist.com)

So USB isn't out of touch.

Looking professional still gives customers a feel that your company might be professional; and dressing professionally gives you the opportunity to act professionally that flip flops and tank top just doesn't give.

It's not fascist nor fashionable, it's presenting a formal and therefore professional image.

Here is what an image consulting firm says (Image Resource Group--and no I don't work for them):

"Professional dress is critical in business. It is more than our public skin, it is a language. The way you package yourself sends a message about you, your skills, and your organization. It takes only a few seconds to form a first impression, and more than half of that first impression is based on appearance.

Professional dress for men and women is also a critical component of your organization’s brand. Maintaining a competitive edge requires that your staff sustain a consistent visual impression with customers. Your employees are the ambassadors of your organization, and the way they are perceived determines how your organization is perceived by customers, the community, and the marketplace."

Everyone has dress codes--except maybe customers at Wal-Mart (LOL).

Posted by: mil1 | December 15, 2010 6:28 PM

In the modern American job economy, remember, it always pays to look your best, to look well groomed, and to make a good impression while you ask your customers "do you want fries with that?"

Posted by: seattle_wa | December 15, 2010 6:08 PM

As long as the paycheck doesn't bounce, the employer can demand any appropriate dress code it wants for people it pays.

Most states are employment-at-will. If the employee doesn't like the dress code, they are free to find another job and the employer is free to find another employee.

Posted by: cpameetingbook | December 15, 2010 6:07 PM

I think this is great! All you slobs out there should take note. In the end it will advance your career.

Posted by: RFC121 | December 15, 2010 5:42 PM

I wear full beard because it stopped constant skin infections from ingrown hairs. I know I'll never work at a bank, and we professors are kind of expected to have beards, but still it worries me that I could lose my job were I in employed in banking, industry even retail. And I was the kind who wore sports jackets and ties to high school......

Posted by: funfun881 | December 15, 2010 5:40 PM

What's all the fuss about? When I was younger, the FBI and the phone company required their acolytes and toadies to wear black suits and white shirts. And, heaven help the guy who appeared on the street without a fedora. J. Edgar would have had him shot on the spot.

Posted by: sameolddoc | December 15, 2010 5:37 PM

The bank's rules are possibly illegal, an infringement on personal privacy, an invasion of basic human rights, a violation of basic human rights, grounds for multiple lawsuits, idiotic, moronic, psychotic, overkill, over-controlling, unprofessional, Draconian (it's capitalized), asinine, inept, corrupt, unethical, dumb, and just plain stupid. Anyone involved with that memo needs to be reprimanded, suspended with pay for a week, and given a basic tutorial in personnel, public relations, common sense and managing and working with people. And the company needs to issue a public apology to its employees and its customers, effective immediately. The dress code is just incredibly stupid.

Posted by: thefrontpage | December 15, 2010 5:19 PM

Dress codes like the one required at UBS are useless, worthless, and send the wrong signal. No country was ever built by anyone in a suit. No industry was built by anyone wearing a suit. No company was built by anyone wearing a suit...no matter how much it cost or how the tie knot was tied. I'm not suggesting that everyone wear grunge jeans and t-shirts, but khaki slacks, pressed shirt with open collar and a blazer are just fine. Many of our most successful companies latley...Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others practically ban dress suits. Many of our failed companies have (or had) executive office dress codes mimicking that of UBS...AIG, GM, Chrysler, Enron, MCI-Worldcom, Tyco International. Coincidence???...you tell me.

Posted by: LouisianaVirginian | December 15, 2010 5:05 PM

Having worked for the Fed Govt - where casual Friday would bring all sorts of look and attitude. One woman who recently went to the islands the week before for her designated 1 week vacation- showed up on "Casual Friday" wearing a shirt that had been shredded w/beads on it noting her vacation destination!! Hello – there is no happy hour and NO ONE cares how tan you are between the shredded beaded shirt!
Its about time - bring back the dress code and enforce it- we are fat lazy and ugly Americans at times. I still dress each day for work and I work out of my home- the thought of that woman in her Island Garb stays with me when I think of what not to wear EVER

Posted by: blonde19 | December 15, 2010 5:01 PM

I suggest that the top management of UBS (as well as other similar banks) shuld dress in a stripe jumper bearing a tag with their number: in this way they will get used to wear a prison uniform, the place they really belong.

If the banks are giving out rules for how to dress how about rules on moral and ethical business conduit?

PS: Since skin coloured underwear are out, the next time you go to UBS, please ask to checkk this: it will be fun!

Posted by: roby3926 | December 15, 2010 4:59 PM

When my employer pays me enough salary to afford those nice suits, then I will buy and wear them.

Since my boss doesn't see fit to pay me anymore than it takes to cover rent, food and transportation, I guess he is just going to have to suck it up, or buy me a suit.

Other than that, I wear business casual, with a jacket that I keep at work for when I need it. I don't wear flip flops, and if we had a casual Friday, I would wear decent jeans, no rips, holes, tears or patches, and no t-shirts with logos or other writing.

And yes, you can tell that to Booz Allen!

Posted by: taroya | December 15, 2010 4:51 PM

Is it a fashion faux pas to wear a bow tie with lederhosen?

Posted by: filmlab | December 15, 2010 4:48 PM

I am generally liberal/progressive however, I believe dress codes are fine. I am really put off when I see men attend a Fine Arts performance wearing old jeans. I really object to seeing men in public wearing baseball hats on backwards unless they are doing yard work. I was always impressed by the way so many Oklahoma men wore dress jeans and fine Western hats as semi formal attire. Frankly I just don't understand why a well dressed woman will consent to go someplace with a guy who looks like a slob. I think our school systems would avoid a lot of problems if they would require uniforms.
As a man I wear everything from jeans to a tuxedo at times--it all depends on the circumstance. If I am in doubt I ask my wife, something I think more men should do more often!

Posted by: danceblade | December 15, 2010 4:46 PM

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++====
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++====

I wonder if UBS had a 43 page code when they were peddling the worhtless auction rate securities. Investors were completely misinformed about their risks.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++====
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++====

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 15, 2010 4:46 PM

The standards are only common sense. People have to know what the standards are of what is expected before they can be held accountable. Unfortunately too many people bend guidelines and standards and really fall down if there are none to begin with. I do not see one thing in yr piece which is draconian or overkill.

Posted by: texas234 | December 15, 2010 4:38 PM

Hi, we're your bank. We don't have a clue how to manage your money and we'll flush it down the toilet if you give us a chance, but we sure dress nice.

Posted by: RGee1 | December 15, 2010 4:31 PM

UBS is right, much as I hate to admit. If people knew how to dress appropriately, no handbook would be needed. But they don't know how, or don't care. The era of labor shortages made it harder for employers to ask for correct attire; now it's a new day.

I realize this makes me a dinosaur, but I'm glad someone is spelling out what the bank employees' parents should have. I wish places other than UBS cared about the customer experience as much. Customers shouldn't have to deal with employees reeking of perfume, garlic sandwiches and wearing flip-flops. Not at a bank anyway.

Posted by: Hunter | December 15, 2010 4:28 PM

I love a man who is impeccably dressed!

Posted by: cej7401 | December 15, 2010 4:24 PM

Don't like the rules? Don't work there.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 15, 2010 4:24 PM

The Wall Street Journal indicates this dress code is for retail bankers in Switzerland only-- not for Americans, or workers anywhere else. Wouldn't that be an important thing to mention in this post? Switzerland's culture is considerably different from America's.

Posted by: thecalifornian | December 15, 2010 4:21 PM

From the looks of some of the young people in America they need to be taught how to dress. I've nver seen such sloppy clothes(if they could be called clothes)holes in the pants pants barely covering their behinds caps on backwards they have no pride and it shows.What most people don't understand is you don't dress for yourself you dress for the people that you meet.They is a true saying clothes make the man or woman.Here's a test for you when you hold a door open for someone who is dressed nice 99 out of 100 will say thank you where as the ones I mentioned above most will ignore you.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | December 15, 2010 4:13 PM

Appropriate business attire should be expected in a professional setting. Over the years, "appropriate" has taken on a much more casual meaning. But 43 pages? Does this say something about UBS, or does it say more about the quality of the employees they hire who need a detailed 43 page dress code with specifics?

Of course, in a company possessed by greed, where it is all about the money, the hiring criteria may be less based on professionalism and more based on an ability to tread close to the ethical edge in order to make a dollar.

Posted by: pblotto | December 15, 2010 4:10 PM

maxximillian - I would rather give my money to a "tattooed up hippy" than to an adult that looks like the pasty white Home Alone kid in a suit.

Posted by: CalmTruth | December 15, 2010 4:08 PM

Posted by: Dungarees | December 15, 2010 1:56 PM
"And we've all seen how the "dress code" by fliers has gone from being "dressed up" for the occasion to flip flops, bare midriffs, biker shorts, etc., worn by passengers, regardless of the class they're travelling in."

Gramps, considering all the bother the TSA puts you through, the "dress code" you describe is appropriate for flying. Heck, I am considering flying in pasties and a thong. No place to hide stuff, so the TSA doesn't have an excuse for groping/fondling me.

Posted by: bushidollar | December 15, 2010 3:54 PM

A 43 page guide sounds way too draconian, but I have worked in some places where people dressed very unprofessionally. Unfortunately some people need to be reminded that wearing clothe 2 sizes too small, flip flops, or wearing the same thing 3 days in a row is not appropriate.

Posted by: nasochkas | December 15, 2010 3:49 PM

Truth be told...Guys do need to learn how to tie ties nowadays. The knots being made are waaaaaay to big......and the newbies knots are so not really knots for a tie but knots made on little kids shoes when you have to take scissors to them.

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 15, 2010 3:45 PM

I have worked in a variety of offices with varying dress codes and have come to the conclusion that the way someone dresses has zero effect on the quality of their work or on my own ability to complete my projects.

If my company were to establish a "naked-only" policy, after the initial surprise, I am quite confident we could all get our work done without much distraction.

The Silicon Valley companies that are leading the world in innovative change don't give a rat's ass what you wear.

Perhaps we should go back to the 1890s and wear starched collars, bowler hats, and chaps?

Do your work folks, and stop worrying about what everyone else is wearing.

And AlexandriaMan: Can you give the address of your doctor's office?

Posted by: Bondosan | December 15, 2010 3:42 PM

Viewpoint2: Thanks for making this disclosure. UBS will not get any of my money as a result.

Seriously? You're that upset that a company distributes a
dress code that you wont do business with them anymore, really? I think it more likely you are some tattooed up hippy that doesn't have any money to
start with.

Posted by: maxximillian | December 15, 2010 3:38 PM

I remember working with some lady in the early 80s who happened to work for a now defunct well-known consulting company off of Dupont Circle. She told me that they were instructed to NOT take their bag lunch outside and eat on the park bench in the park. I thought to myself then, and think to myself now, that something is wrong with our society when they literally take all the fun and life out of work. After 30 years of working in DC for various government agencies and some of the major private sector companies, I would say my favorite bosses had a sense of humor, could tell a joke to their people, could laugh at themselves in front of their people, and tried to think of life from their subordinates' viewpoints - especially if they had bad news. I remember and pray for good bosses that have passed away. Bad bosses get their due because, again, after 30 years I know that those that treat people badly end up without friends or any happiness or fulfillment.

Posted by: steven7753 | December 15, 2010 3:35 PM

UBS stands for Uber Bull Sh*t.

Posted by: bruce19 | December 15, 2010 3:30 PM

Oy, have you seen a photo of the bank's CEO Oswald Grueber? There should be a whole page on how someone who looks like a zombie should make himself appear to be alive.

1. don't slick hair
2. don't wear 18th century wire rimmed glasses
3. get tan now and then

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | December 15, 2010 3:28 PM

Thanks for making this disclosure. UBS will not get any of my money as a result.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | December 15, 2010 3:18 PM

You missed the real bank dress code.
Enter with bulging pockets and purses and leave naked.

Posted by: dottydo | December 15, 2010 3:08 PM

Left to right or right to left when slashing the boss's throat?

Posted by: CalmTruth | December 15, 2010 3:08 PM

Sounds like Booz Allen

Posted by: reston75 | December 15, 2010 3:06 PM

What are you all complaining about--They need to look good when they come begging for their next bail out.

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | December 15, 2010 3:04 PM

Well now we know where those fees go... to pay for a group of people to do nothing but sit around and figure out how their employees are supposed to dress.

Next year, after raising more fees, they'll probably come out with RBS Granamals for staffers.

Posted by: mika_england | December 15, 2010 3:01 PM

All our banks need to know is how to lipstick the pigs...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 15, 2010 3:00 PM

The biggest mistake this article makes is taking this issue so seriously. A corporate "guideline" of this sort is created and circulated by people who have too much time on their hands, little knowledge of the actual workplace, and a need to justify their jobs.

Most corporate employees understand this, smile and nod when given the policy, and then return to the common sense execution of their daily work. I'd hardly call it micro-management, unless employees are being subjected to inspections and discipline for not meeting the policy.

One danger of a policy like this is that managers with no common sense and a tendency to authoritarianism and control can really make life miserable for their direct reports.

The only practical purpose for this kind of policy is that when you actually DO have an employee who is completely deficient in hygiene or taste in clothing, you have a published standard that you can reference when 'counseling" him or her. If the employee doesn't come around, you are then fully justified in termination for violation of policy.

Posted by: mwashington2 | December 15, 2010 2:59 PM

Do you think that UBS also distributed a writing guide to employees? That guide would include items such as the fact that "it's" is a contraction and not the possessive form of "it", the difference between "to" and "too" and the idea that the use of "etc" in lists only suggests to the reader that the writer cannot recall the remaining items in the list. Well-crafted communication is a much better means of proving concern with details than a dark business suit.

Posted by: stich818 | December 15, 2010 2:56 PM

It must have been slow news day for Ms. McGregor to jump on this issue. Even at the Washington Post image is carefully nurtured and employees are reminded of it. But none seem to really consider it micro-managing; it is accepted as setting an environment / culture of success and achievement. Perhaps 43 pages in a bit excessive. But on all fronts you can't belittle UBS success in employee retention, satisfied customer base, deposit base, etc. Perhaps these 43 pages are contributing to this success!?

Posted by: rcranmer | December 15, 2010 2:49 PM

Well its cute, who knew they cared about anything except their next bonus?

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | December 15, 2010 2:44 PM

"Employees shouldn't eat garlic or onions or wear too much perfume."
=================
And you, Ms. McGregor, think that they should?

It is very unfortunate that modern American workers should be reminded of common sense things like that.
But we all have examples that explain why USB had to spell it out for some people.

Posted by: goldenpack | December 15, 2010 2:41 PM

I absolutely think it is right for UBS to publish those guidelines. The younger people in the workforce these days either have no clue on how to dress professionally or simply do not care. I think a company has every right to ask it's employee's to adhere to a standard and then to establish what that standard is so that there are no misunderstandings. The whole casual Friday concept has done nothing but make many of our coworkers lazy.

Posted by: VaBroker | December 15, 2010 2:39 PM

Dungarees said: "Guidelines are one thing; inflexible standards, unless you're in military uniform, and in formation, is generally overkill."

Or unless you are interested in success.
The military has inflexible standards because they MUST succeed, failure is not an option.

Posted by: leberk | December 15, 2010 2:38 PM

I think that employees need direction on every aspect of being an employee of the organization. i am all for dress down fridays and all, but some people resort to wearing pajama's in the workplace. Make sure its clean, not showing skin, not to form hugging. I think the reality if your job does interact with the public heavily should be professional attire. If you have clients professional attire. If you sit in a cube/office all day with minimal outside or client interaction (a nice pair of jeans/khakis, and appropriate shirt/top-should be the requirement). After all, you can't control what people wear during their time off (and I am not referring to the weekends)-think of what you wear when you call in sick and go out-or during your vacation time in someone elses city during their lunch hour?

Life is short,

Posted by: tyswashpost | December 15, 2010 2:37 PM

Wow - can't wait to see the instruction manual for going to the john.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | December 15, 2010 2:33 PM

"Real-time ideas for leading in a changing world" That is a great by-line.
You should stick to it, and not get side-lined into ridiculing true leaders.

Posted by: leberk | December 15, 2010 2:31 PM

Alexandriaman, what doctor's office do you visit? (address also if you can remember).

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | December 15, 2010 2:30 PM

I hate the smell of onions in the workplace. Totally agree with that one, although GUM or MINTS would solve the bad breath issue.

Yes, it is micromanaging but I can't help but wonder to how many people is this dress code revealing in terms of what one should wear to work.

I see people come in for interviews wearing baseball caps and jeans!

As far as scent goes, perfume or cologne, I always adopt the no perfume at work rule because there is always someone who will go into a sneezing fit and seek out the culprit or on the opposite end than man or woman who isn't aware that they put waaayyy too much on.

Posted by: hebe1 | December 15, 2010 2:30 PM

Most people can use the help provided in these guidelines. Especially if they are trying to portray an image of professionalism. People don't trust individuals with their money who portray themselves in unprofessional ways. Am I going to take financial advice from the guy who looks like he'd rather be catching a wave and begrudgingly wears a suit, or the guy who recognizes his image portrays a sense of self confidence and ability?

Appearance is on par with getting your foot in the door, but it's often the deciding factor on whether or not the door opens in the first place.

Posted by: mockymock | December 15, 2010 2:29 PM

Might want to rethink the hair dye policy in our youth-obsessed culture. At least require a color found in nature and mind the roots.

Posted by: oldmagnolia | December 15, 2010 2:21 PM

Has it occurred to the writer that there is an enormous cultural difference between the Swiss and Americans, including attitudes toward regimentation and authority, and perhaps Swiss employees will not react as negatively as Americans might?

There is a reason the Swiss became famous for their exacting timepieces, after all.

Posted by: Meridian1 | December 15, 2010 2:21 PM

While this dress code does seem excessively detailed, it is a sad reality that many people in all age groups do not know how to dress for work! I work for a green NGO and the rule is dress for whatever the day will bring. If you are going to the Hill, then suits. If you will be in the office, jeans are OK. But no cutoffs, tank t-shirts, etc. I rarely need to wear a suit but I have a jacket in the office in case someone drops by unexpectedly. It's too bad that people need to have standards spelled out for them but that's the sloppy world we live in.

Posted by: pirate1 | December 15, 2010 2:19 PM

The Comment:
"Hilarious. Enjoy your regimented jobs, robots."

The Reply:

"As long as they continue to pay me 400K a year, I'll pretend to be whatever kind of robot they wish"

Posted by: Nosh1 | December 15, 2010 2:18 PM

Global financial reforms are long overdue. And the mega-banks had to be stabilized, they are too interconnected in the financial system we are all dependent on. Now they should be broken up into smaller pieces so that they are never again "too big to fail".

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | December 15, 2010 2:18 PM

You know what? UBS is actually right. The concept of casual Friday and being 'casual' has lowered standards in the forms of dress. Many will say that so long that they care competent in their job, who cares how they dress. But 'casual' and 'formal' mean different things to different people. For example, I walked into my doctor's office last year and the receptionist was sitting there with her huge breasts pouring out over the desk. Is that appropriate attire? Or a cohort that came to work wearing ripped jeans and a funky looking T-shirt during casual Friday.

I think the guidelines are fabulous so long as upper management doesn't start moonlighting as the fashion polie.

Posted by: AlexandriaMan | December 15, 2010 2:18 PM

Hilarious. Enjoy your regimented jobs, robots.

Posted by: fluxgirl | December 15, 2010 2:11 PM

guess this means the whiners and fellow travelers have to bath,shave,keep their physical attributes from being exposed for all to admire,no tattoos or metal attached to their body parts,no flip flops,t shirts or cutoffs? must violate some constitutional rights. contact the aclu and sue u fools

Posted by: pofinpa | December 15, 2010 2:08 PM

What about horrible comb overs? If it soesn't ban those, the rules should be rewritten!!

Posted by: PepperDr | December 15, 2010 1:57 PM

I have come to believe that it was your family connections, or something, that got you this writing job - and now I have come to believe that it contributed to your sense of entitlement.
This artice has no reason to be written. Fer people care what you think - no comments so far :-)
My point being - your employer (in the private sector)- can place any reasonable rules on its employees it wishes.
I personally applaud any employer who spells out rules for proper conduct and attire. It's good for the company, the employees and the customers.
Any employee that takes exception is free to go elsewhere!
Next question??? :-)

Posted by: thornegp2626 | December 15, 2010 1:56 PM

It's not that some dress entries shouldn't be micro-managed (even if I don't believe they should be), it's that many people don't understand there sometimes is a standard that makes sense.

Years ago, if I remember correctly, Jay Leno commented that he dresses for the audience he's performing for. If the audience is wearing jeans and shirts, open collar or tee-shirts, he wears slacks and a sports jacket. If they're wearing slacks and a shirt, he wears a sports jacket and tie. If they're wearing sports jackets, he wears a suit, and if they're wearing suits, he wears a tuxedo. His belief is that they're paying for service and they have an entitlement of you living up to their expectations.

And we've all seen how the "dress code" by fliers has gone from being "dressed up" for the occasion to flip flops, bare midriffs, biker shorts, etc., worn by passengers, regardless of the class they're travelling in.

To a large degree, seeing formality in a bank environment is comforting. It seems to show that they care; they're concerned about details.

That said, there's a degree of individual decision making that comes into play. Not everything needs to be micro-managed. Guidelines are one thing; inflexible standards, unless you're in military uniform, and in formation, is generally overkill.

Posted by: Dungarees | December 15, 2010 1:56 PM

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