If you’ve been watching the industry news lately, a handful of firms have adopted an everyday-jeans policy. Essentially, in many cases these policies are worded to say as long as you don’t have a client meeting, you are free to wear jeans in the office every day of the week. It sounds reasonable – as the work product of your people isn’t going to change based upon what they are wearing. And, I certainly see how this is perceived as a perk for employees and an advantage in recruiting. Finally, as a self-described challenger of the status-quo, I think it’s about time that we worry less about what people are wearing and focus instead on the quality of their deliverables.
But, I must say I am a bit concerned about one particular message that comes through in this policy and that is the “if you don’t have a client meeting” aspect of the policy.
What was that? If you don’t have a client meeting? Why wouldn’t our people have a client meeting every day?
Shouldn’t we be encouraging our people to have MORE client meetings, not less? Don’t we emphasize the value of face-to-face meetings as an opportunity to get to know our clients better, understand their goals, add value to the relationship, seek referrals, cross-sell, and achieve trusted advisor status? Don’t we state that perhaps the biggest differentiator between us and our competitors is the strength of our client relationships?
Shouldn’t we aspire to get out of the office daily and meet with someone, whether this be a client, referral source, influencer, thought leader, trade group meeting, or other person who can strengthen our personal and professional network?
Don’t we want to send the message to our staff that getting out of the office is an expectation, and is part of the growth of your career, essential to your ability to create a personal network and brand, and ultimately a key component of building a practice?
To all of these questions, most reply “yes.” So, I think we have to be careful about the possibility that we’ve inadvertently created an excuse for our people to not leave the office. I know you’ve carefully considered the advantages and disadvantages of your new policy from a variety of aspects. But have you thought about the impact this new policy may have on the strength of your client relationships, the ability of your people to identify value generating ideas for your clients, the ability to grow revenues through cross-selling, the strength of your referral source community, and the development of your people in their interpersonal skills?
Ultimately, I believe trusting our people to dress appropriately whatever the occasion is a move in the right direction. Everyday jeans is a part of that movement. However, take caution that a “jeans-everyday” policy doesn’t erode the strength of your client relationships and the message that client relationship development is a core component of everyone’s job in today’s CPA firm.