Embracing the Casual Economy

When I walk through the Benefitfocus campus, one thing I notice and am very proud of is the culture of authenticity we have fostered. Whether you rock tattoos, a funky fashion sense or a penchant for three-piece suits, you have the freedom here to be true to yourself. This freedom, however, expresses itself in a much more impactful way than just appearances. It’s this authenticity that fosters creativity in all aspects of our workplace.

When we feel free enough at work to take off the mask of expectations and simply be who we are at our core, we’re much more likely to share that creative idea or think differently about the problems we must solve, for our own organization and for our customers. This creative freedom is infectious, and when nurtured it becomes evident in our products and our services. Our customers recognize our authenticity and reap the benefits, for example through our ability to proactively anticipate their needs and changes in the market. When we hire based on ideas and merit, not on what a person is wearing, the company is free to function at its very best because its people are free to be their best.

A generation ago, jeans and a t-shirt were unthinkable attire in an office setting, but we have seen a shift in attitudes and expectations. Companies that have embraced this shift reap the benefits, by building workforces based on talent, not appearance. Whether you’re business formal or jeans casual, many companies today recognize that what matters most are your talents and ideas; those are the factors that impact their success and bottom line, not what you choose to wear.

Therefore the casual economy is about being “casual” with the things that matter less—dress code and appearances—and valuing the characteristics that can truly make a difference in an organization. Because when people are allowed to be themselves—your potential hires, your customers and your community will notice that your company is free to be authentic in everything it does. 

So be encouraged to proudly rock your tattoos and brightly colored hair – or your business suit or pencil skirt. Whatever your unique style is; embrace it! Present yourself honestly, and allow others to do the same. Then watch as your business profits from this “casual economy.”