Outfits at work are more than just a fashion statement — they're also a business statement. As it turns out, what your employees wear to work is probably impacting your business's bottom line.
A study by Columbia University found that more formal clothing leads to higher abstract thinking—the pursuit of long-term goals over short-term gains—and a more professional perception of others. But before you ditch your casual dress code, there's a flip-side: Formal business clothes aren't usually the most comfortable, and other studies have shown that how confident and comfortable people feel in their work clothes correlates to how competent others perceive them to be.
So, how do you and your employees strike a balance between professional and comfortable on the job? Ministry, an innovative professional performance clothing company founded in 2012, might have the solution.
By combining a deep understanding of the human body with cutting-edge materials and technology, they have redesigned business clothes to match the needs of the modern workforce. We caught up with Aman Advani, CEO of Ministry, to find out more about their hi-tech clothing line and how it fits into the future of work.
Business clothes have remained essentially unchanged for decades. What trends enabled your wear-to-work clothing to come to life?
The generation that's now hitting the workforce is one that grew up on Nike Dri-FIT. We've grown up with this expectation of form and function coexisting in our wardrobe.
But that mindset also goes with a lifestyle shift. All of a sudden, the nine-to-five is a dying breed, and it's being quickly replaced with what we've started referring to as work-life integration, where all of a sudden your work wardrobe and your home wardrobe have blended pretty quickly into one cohesive closet instead of packing a separate bag for what happens after work.
The consumer demand, the lifestyle shifts, the expectation shifts all really come together to create this perfect storm of [a] market ready for this massive change—it's one of the first real changes to wear-to-work clothing in decades.
You use innovative and hi-tech materials and manufacturing, like NASA temperature-regulating technology, 3D robotic knitting and sweat-wicking fibers. What role do these technologies play in your clothing design?
When we talk about technology, we think, let's first start at the pain points before we start pushing technology into a spot it doesn't belong.
One of the only real differentiators between us and any clothing company out there—let alone wear-to-work and beyond—is what we call human-centered design. It's this idea of taking the time to understand how you expel heat, odor, moisture, pressure, strain—how you feel, how you think, how you act, what your day looks like.
There are small and easy examples, like putting carbonized coffee into the yarns of our socks to fight odor. We use materials in the sideboards of our dress shirts to help regulate temperature, which are basically a waxy polymer developed by NASA for space suits for base temperature regulation—which is obviously important in space, but it's also important at your desk or on the subway or on the plane.
What technology will have the biggest impact on the future of work dress?
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, and I'll go with it: aligned stretch. That doesn't mean something as simple as just throwing a bunch of Spandex into existing garments. It means understanding how your body and skin actually move and stretch during the day and building the garment around that. It seems to be the technology that has a huge functional impact without sacrificing anything on the aesthetic side.
How do you see Ministry evolving over the next decade?
The blur between work and home has led to, in some ways, the demise of the hardcore dress code.
We're seeing employers shift from being highly prescriptive to a lot more descriptive—using words like "smart" instead of "business casual."
The implications for us are that when we use the word "wear-to-work" for clothing, it's a much bigger term than it might have been a decade ago with the growth of the category. That means the product line has to expand and grow and adapt to a changing definition of what wear-to-work clothing means. We've rallied around this idea of performance clothes for the office, but what you wear to the office is a moving target, so we have to adapt.
Photo Credits: Ministry
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Alexander Mann Solutions wins Cornerstone OnDemands sponsored categories at the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards
Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.
Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey
It's been going on for a while now - the shift towards more agile and flexible companies that quickly can adapt to the fast-changing times of today. Organisations that are unable to make this move are gradually losing competitiveness and finding it more difficult to prove themselves against smaller and faster players. Those who recognise the need and are able to create new conditions for the business, in the form of new structures, will survive and flourish in tomorrow's economic reality. Agile HR can be viewed from two different angles; How HR should work together within the HR team and what / how HR should deliver value to the business for which they exist. All HR processes that are part of Talent and People Management will be different when you start working agile, and each of the processes have their specific tools and working methods. Here we will look at HR from a more general perspective, to get an overall understanding of how the HR role, and the corresponding deliverables, change in a company that wants to increase its business agility. The goal is to focus on creating better workplaces through the development of teams and individuals, throughout the whole organisation. Small and medium-sized companies are easier to change, as they have less hierarchical structures, and often a more decentralised business, where everyone has an ability to make the decisions that need to be made, locally rather than centrally. The larger and more complex a company is, the more systems, processes, and structures there are that cannot be easily and quickly changed. Although it is possible to change a department in the organisation, some issues might remain that forces the department back into the central structures. This happens because it is not possible to isolate a specific part of the business. You can compare it to an attempt to change a rubber ball. It changes when it is being squeezed, but when you let go, it quickly returns to its old shape. However, there is one functional department in most large organisations that can influence all the other parts at once – HR. In many large companies, HR controls; ● Leadership programs and development ● Change management ● Organisational development ● Employee engagement ● Employee training and skills development ● Rewards and bonuses ● Recruitment ● Goal setting and performance reviews ● Long term mix of employees All these processes or areas flow through the entire organisation. These are the structures that can support, or prevent, a more radical change towards a more agile company. It all depends on HOW we work with processes and programs. They can be developed in a way that, paradoxically, prevents performance and commitment. Or they can optimise performance and employee satisfaction. HR struggles with criticisms, it is accused of being some kind of "organisational police", which hinders performance and commitment by implementing Talent management processes in a way that was intended to increase the same. This needs to change. HR has been in the back seat for too long and now it is time to take responsibility for a change in how to support the organisation. Because it is about people, and relationships between people, this is the key to how the company performs as a whole. It is the system that fundamentally needs to change, not the people. We do not need to do more things or implement complicated frameworks and methods. Instead, we need to understand how we can make it easier for people to make their best contribution to the company, by providing supportive structures, instead of hindering structures. It is through more experiments and by trying different working methods, that one can find the best path for each organisation, and each team/individual. Here, the agile principles and the agile mindset serve as a guide. Agile tools and frameworks work sometimes, but not always. The only way to continually improve is through constant learning, which also means that we sometimes fail. Companies that learn faster than others, and turn that knowledge into new ways of working for employees, but also new products and services for external customers, gain a competitive advantage and will be the winner of the future. HR has the power and the ability to design the structures that aim to either support or make it harder for employees to contribute in creative and innovative ways. If HR sticks to the old, traditional ways of working, the consequence will be rigid and non-agile organisations that use inefficient systems and processes. HR can either hinder or support the change, so HR must show the way. By providing opportunities for alternative and more agile working methods, and by focusing on value creation and value flows for the internal and by extension also external customers, HR can lead companies through changes that no other department is capable of. The next blog chapter will dive into HR's changing role.