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Today most of us go to work dressed professionally, and certainly more comfortable than those who might’ve been working 40 years ago. But, how did we go from strictly suits, ties and dresses in the workplace to the business casual attire we all know today? Better yet, how did the modern office come to adopt the idea of casual Fridays?

In 1962, The Hawaiian Fashion Guild was on a mission to make the Hawaiian shirt acceptable in the office, at least on Fridays. The argument was that, because of the hot climate, this would be a more comfortable option for employees. In an effort to increase the Hawaiian garment industry and help the economy, they even encouraged the local government to adopt the idea of “Aloha Friday”. By the late 1960s, thanks to toned down patterns and colors, Hawaiian shirts were becoming acceptable every day of the week.

In the early 1990s, the mainland started to catch on to the idea. There was a small recession and many companies wanted inexpensive ways to offer more benefits to employees and raise company morale. In a short amount of time, many companies across the United States began adopting the idea and “Casual Friday” was born. While some did not necessarily want employees coming to work in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, they were struggling to define this casual dress code.

In 1992, Levi’s recognized this challenge and saw an opportunity to help define “Casual Friday” while marketing their own clothing. They created a campaign and a brochure called “A Guide to Casual Business”. This brochure was sent all across the United States and included images of the all infamous Dockers. Since their campaign, Dockers have become a staple of many business casual wardrobes, as well as other styles from the Levi’s brand.

Present day, most companies have adopted business casual as an everyday dress code to boost morale, allowing employees to feel more comfortable in the workplace while still looking professional.

Here at HON, we’ve transformed our “Casual Fridays” into an opportunity to give back to the community. Our members vote on their favorite charities and donate money to wear jeans on the last day of the week.  How do you define a “business casual dress code” in your workplace?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s workers spend an average of 4.6 years in each job position. If you’re between the ages of 25-34, you may only be in your current role for three years. With so much of the workforce exploring new opportunities as this trend continues, how can you make yourself stand out? It’s actually easier than you think.

Get to work on time

Get to work early

We have all heard the phrase “the early bird catches the worm.” There is still some truth to that. You may not need to be early, but getting to work on time is a great way to demonstrate work ethic. Of course, we all have mornings where everything seems to go awry and we end up strolling in a few minutes late. But don’t make a habit of it. The small act of getting to work on time can boost your character and shows you are dependable, responsible, and professional – qualities that go a long way when you’re trying to move up in your career.

Look the part

Dress how you want to be addressed

Speaking of professionalism, be sure your appearance reflects your work. Come to work rested and put together. Not adhering to your company’s dress code or just making unprofessional wardrobe choices could be giving your colleagues the wrong impressions of you. My best advice is this – if you have to ask “does this look okay?”, the answer is probably no. You can also take it a step further and dress for the position you want and not the position you have. If you want to move up, look at what people in that position are wearing and follow their lead. This simple trick can have you looking ready for the next career move.

Be a team player

Be a Team Player

Many of us (me included) are guilty of thinking we can control everything. But if you are looking to make a good impression, adopt a “we” mentality. Some small, simple things can help you be a team player and network with coworkers. Ask those around you about their weekend or current projects. Next, give credit where credit is due. If someone helped you on a project, be sure to share the credit. Also, give out thanks and compliments when deserved. You don’t have to compliment everyone on every little thing, but when hard work was put forth, acknowledge it. If someone helped you out or supported your successes, let him know he is appreciated.

Ask questions

Ask Questions

Finally, if you want to stand out, start asking questions.

  • Ask for clarification when needed but, more importantly, be sure to ask questions to understand the larger organizational reasons behind why a particular task or project is important. Taking this initiative shows that you’re engaged.
  • Also, ask questions to help you gain more responsibility. In what ways can you assist on another project? Is there any follow up that can be completed? Are there future projects you could get a head start on, if time permits?
  • Ask questions to expand your experiences. Is there a seminar or conference you could attend? A skill set you could work on? Many companies provide classes or other learning opportunities, so ask if you can participate. Even if you anticipate the answer to be “no”, it’s worth asking because it shows you are taking action to improve yourself and your work. Just asking the question can change someone’s thoughts of you and put you ahead of the pack for the next position.

What are your tips for getting ahead?

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