Dissing the dress code in veterinary practice


Dress codes are in place for a reason. Keep your employees' work attire appropriate with these helpful tips from Shawn McVey.

Q: I've addressed workplace attire at staff meetings and it's in the employee handbook, but it doesn't seem to stick. What do I do next?

"Employee appearance and personal expression are touchy subjects to manage, but the real issue here has to do with accountability and trust more than professionalism," says Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Chicago and a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board Member.

The practical response to your dilemma is the three-strike rule, McVey says. Speak to the fashion felon about their insubordinate behavior, and give them 30 days to get it right.

"If it happens again in 30 days, give them a second warning and another 30 days to comply. If it happens again before the 30-day period ends, go to step three—termination," he says.

This issue was covered by your employee handbook for a reason—the dress code is meant to be followed and is supposed to save you time by addressing simple rules so you don't have to on a daily basis. Hold your team accountable to these rules.

"What are they saying to you with their resistance?" McVey asks. "Typically, this type of blatant disregard of the rules is an expression of a lack of trust in leadership." If they don't share your practice's values about professionalism and are insubordinate at every turn, termination may be your best bet for your hospital to run smoothly.

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