Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: employee

It’s time to get comfortable with casual dress codes

The business formal dress code has been dying for decades. The rebellious anti-dress codes of ‘70s Silicon Valley spread slowly through American offices until business casual struck even the most old-school firms in the 1990s. The rise of the tech start-up in the 2000s has slackened dress codes even more. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, dress codes are relaxing even more.

The pandemic has shifted employee expectations

After more than a third of American workers spent the better part of a year working from home, getting them back to the office may be enough of a problem. Getting them back into blazers and slacks? That may not happen at all.

Casual dress policies have long been considered a perk, but for some workers they’ve been turning into a requirement for some workers. The shift from soft and stretchy loungewear at home to less comfortable clothes is just not desirable for employees., especially in a market where businesses are struggling to hire.

What’s the point of your dress code?

It’s important for your company to nail down why it has the dress code it does to see whether it can change. Is it the desire to be perceived externally as professional? Is the goal to maximize productivity? If so, how is your dress code maximizing productivity?

There’s a popular belief that to work their best, employees need to dress their best and that can be true. Wearing a suit may give a sales representative more confidence and authority, but people in other positions may not need those boosts to be efficient in their job. It may be more distracting dealing with shoes that hurt your feet or slacks and button ups that are too heavy for the summer heat. In those cases, the cons of uncomfortable clothing may out weight the pros.

The financial burden of formal dress codes

It’s easy to say that people who have uncomfortable work attire should just buy new clothes, but is that always reasonable? Work suits can cost hundreds of dollars and professional clothes for women can be prohibitively expensive and the costs can add up quickly. Business casual outfits cost much less on average which allows workers to invest in more options and replace uncomfortable workwear.

For women, makeup and hair care present an additional financial burden as well as a considerable time commitment. Women spend an average of 55 minutes on grooming and $8 worth of makeup each day. Many women have reported that they intend to leave additional grooming behind after a year of not needing to go through their routines.

Online work and relaxed dress codes may help lessen the divide between the cost of men and women’s work wardrobes will hopefully lessen. If your weight fluctuates, you don’t need to buy a full suit or new dress to be comfortable and professional on video calls. Casual or no makeup can free up time to get other things done, so you’re less stressed while working.

Finding the balance

For most companies, returning to in office work in some capacity is a necessity. This is the opportune moment for a company to reassess its dress code to prioritize productivity, diversity and inclusion and the company culture they want to cultivate. Figuring out a way to balance an employee’s expectations of comfort and financial investments with what is an actual necessity for your company is a great place to start.

Skating, Sinatra and Sitcom

From plan setup to ongoing support, there’s something special about the way we treat our clients — and our contact center is no exception. One of our top-performing Customer Service Representatives, Fred Henderson, shows me how the healthy work environment at Delta Dental can inspire our team to help keep your enrollees well.

Q: What’s your favorite part about working at Delta Dental?

A: Honestly, I feel valued here — and that’s not something you see very often. Whether it’s my coworkers, my supervisor or the company leadership, everyone here is on the same team encouraging each other. And I take pride in knowing the work I do is important. I’m keeping people healthy!

Q: How do you connect with your customers in such a short time?

A: No matter the caller or the situation, within seconds I need to figure out how to help by actively listening, and showing that I’m genuinely interested in what the caller is saying.

Q: How do you think your team contributes to Delta Dental’s very high client satisfaction rating? 1

A: We’re all about one-call resolution — our customers shouldn’t worry about dental benefits. We resolve a situation so it’s easier for everyone. For example, if a benefits administrator (BA) asks about covered services on a plan, odds are their enrollees are having questions too. So we don’t just want to help the BA in that moment, we work to make sure they’re prepared to point enrollees in the right direction too.

Q: Is being part of this collaborative environment what motivates you every day?

A: Definitely. My own department is like a real family, and you don’t want to disappoint family. Putting in extra hours doesn’t feel like work when you like the people around you, and you like working with our customers too.

Q: So, if you had to compare your team to a TV show, what would that be?

A: I’d say we’re as close to each other as the characters in The Office, but we work like we’re on Law & Order, because we’re seriously committed to our customers. Helping them is our main focus.

Q: What’s the most memorable call you’ve had?

A: I recently spoke with a senior customer who was concerned about copays for several services. Before I even got a chance to respond she said “If I was Mrs. Frank Sinatra I’d never have to worry about things like copays.” Then she told me all about her evening out with Sinatra years ago — from him picking her up in a limousine to ordering both lobster and prime rib for dinner, plus dessert.

Conversations like that that make my day. But I think I made hers too, because I got to tell her that there were no copays on her plan for the services she needed.

Q: Do you have a good work-life balance? What do you do in your free time?

A: I’ve got a work hard, play hard mentality. I like that working here gives us time to recharge so we can perform our best. I spend a lot of time with my family, and I’m really active. I swim three days a week. But my real passion is roller skating. I’m pretty good.

Want to see a video?


Q: Wow! You don’t wear skates to work do you?

A: I’m already fast enough at helping my customers. Besides, it might be a little dangerous.

Q: Touché. Wellness is definitely an important part of our culture here. How do you pass that along to enrollee callers?

A: While we want to be quick, it’s not just about answering a question and moving on to the next. It’s about keeping our enrollees healthy long-term, whether that’s pointing them toward our wellness resources, or making sure they know how to get the most out of their plan. If someone asks me about a routine cleaning, I’m going to make sure they know to go twice a year.

So if you could leave our clients with one piece of advice what would it be?

A: Take every opportunity to learn about your benefits. It truly is our goal for enrollees to get the most out of them. If you have a question, call me before it’s a problem. Or go to our website to find helpful tools for you and your enrollees.


Hopefully you’ve seen that skating by at Delta Dental isn’t an option, unless you’re Fred Henderson (after work of course). Stay tuned to learn more about your support team.

1 Delta Dental Annual Report, 2015

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