Have You Tried the Discarded Napkin Test?

Have you tried the discarded napkin test? Perhaps you’ve never heard of it because it isn’t an actual thing. But, this simple sociological experiment does reveal some fascinating insight into how we perceive others and gauge various environments. Don’t bother Googling it, you won’t find any on-point results. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.

Try the Discarded Napkin Test for Yourself

The discarded napkin test is a simple one. And, it clearly demonstrates the importance of appearance. Here it is: go into a casual restaurant prior to the lunch hour rush. Crumple a clean napkin and place it on a clean but empty table. Sit nearby and watch how many people past the “tainted” table up for another. Eventually, if there’s no more tables available, someone will muster the courage to clean it off. Or, give into the frustration of the limited seating options and swipe it to the floor.

Many workplaces have dress codes, particularly workplaces in industries in which image is highly valued and workplaces in which employees have regular face-to-face contact with customers. Whether you are considering setting a dress code for an existing workplace or trying to decide whether your new retail store will require employees to adhere to a dress code, consider the broad benefits and potential drawbacks — like backlash from casual-dressing employees — of such a move. —Houston Chronicle

The point is, people will choose to sit elsewhere even when the only flaw with a table is a discarded napkin. That’s it. Its unpleasing appearance is enough to turn off person after person. Although a bit strange, it’s true. And, it begs the question — are employee dress codes good or bad?

Employee Dress Codes Pros and Cons

Okay, so there are a number of dumb office rules that drive employees crazy. But, some make sense to enforce. When it comes to employee dress codes, it’s not always cut and dry. This means, while an employee dress code can actually be a good policy, it can also be a bad idea. Here are some employee dress code pros and cons to consider:

  • Pro — professional appearance. The single biggest benefit of an employee dress code is it provides a professional appearance. It’s especially useful in retail settings and offices. In the former, uniforms distinguish employees while the latter, business casual provides a professional yet laid back experience.
  • Con — stifles personal style. Although a dress code does provide a more professional experience, it also can stifle personal style. That can mean rebellion, particularly in an office setting. Team members might feel an imposition and possibly a bit untrusted.
  • Pro — provides “uniform” experience. Of course, you’d like your business to send a uniform message, which uniforms undeniably provide. However, in an office setting, this is a little more problematic. But, broad rules with clear prohibitions usually works well.
  • Con — needs consistent policing. Now, the biggest downside of any dress code is the need to police it constantly and consistently. Otherwise, it’s just a suggestion and not enforced policy. At least, that’s the way employees will feel.

What other pros and cons of employee dress codes have you experienced? Do you favor a strict dress code or a loose one? Please share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!

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