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Lunch-Time ConversationFour recent college graduates and new employees at Procter & Gamble met for lunch one afternoon.  Here is a transcript of their discussion:Pete:  Hey everybody, good seeing you!  How’s work going?John:  It’s all good.  I just hate having to wear a suit and tie to work every day. I’m used to t-shirts and shorts from college! (everyone laughs and nods agreement).Mary:  You guys think you have it rough!  Dresses cost a ton to have to take to the cleaners all the time.  Every time I get a dress cleaned at the dry cleaners it costs me $9.50!Bill:  I take my shirts to the dry cleaner too and have them pressed and starched.  But it only costs me $1.85 a shirt, so that’s a lot cheaper.John:  This working a big corporation is cool, but sure is stuffy.  The rules were made up like a hundred years ago back when that’s the way business dressed.  But that was then and this is now.  The world has changed! I know of three people who turned down offers from P&G because of the dress code!All nod in agreement. Pete:  One of the friends I graduated with works at General Foods where they have a casual dress code.  He gets to wear golf shirts and jeans every day to work.Bill:  Lucky guy.Pete:  I read an article on about the psychology of dressing well. It said the clothes you wear and the way you groom yourself will change the way other people hear what you say. It will subconsciously tell them if you’re like them or if you’re different. It will determine whether they listen or ignore. Trust or distrust. Mary:  Exactly.  Dress for success!John:  (looking at his smartphone I’m reading another article that says nobody knows the answer to that.  Some contend that allowing casual attire implies that they allow a casual attitude, which results in a casual work ethic. The other side argues that as employees are allowed to dress more comfortably, their confidence – and therefore their productivity – will increase.Bill:  (looking at his smartphone) here’s a study by The Master’s College in California that found there is a positive effect on performance in the workplace because of casual dress. Dress codes may or may not be necessary for professional performance. Pete:  Conclusions, indeed! Bill:  But you know, if you think about it, we spend a lot of our earnings just on clothes cleaning every year.  Do the math.  If I wear a clean, pressed shirt to work every day, and I come to work 250 days a year, that’s $462.50 a year on shirt cleaning and pressing!  Ouch.Mary:  Gosh I never thought of it that way.  If I take three dresses a week in to be cleaned, that’s $1,482 a year!  And it’s even more for my silk dresses!Pete:  Wow.  That’s a lot of money.  Just think, there are about 10,000 people working here at headquarters in Cincinnati.  If all of them are spending money on dry cleaning like we are, I wonder how much that is?John:  Let’s figure it out.  Assume we have a 50-50 split of male and female employees.  If everyone is doing what we’re doing, that’s like $9.72 million dollars we all collectively are spending on dry cleaning, and that’s just the people who work here at headquarters!  Worldwide there are even more!Bill:  But most of the people worldwide are working at the manufacturing facilities, and they don’t have the dress code like we do at corporate.  Pete:  No wonder the guy who owns the little dry cleaners across the street is always smiling!  Just about everybody drops off their clothes there before work and pick it up after work.  He’s making a killing!Mary:  It’s the American Dream.Bill:  You know what else I hate.  I hate that the dry cleaner closes at 6 o’clock.  Oftentimes I have to rush out of here at 5:45 to get there before he closes.  Sometimes I have to drop a task right in the middle of getting it done and have to go back in later or early the next morning to finish it.  It kills productivity sometimes.Others nod in agreement.John:  Could you make a case that P&G would sell more Tide detergent and Downy Softener if it had its employees wearing casual clothes instead of dressing up?  It would be interesting to run those numbers.  Pete:  Let’s try to figure it out.  Let’s say that if you wore casual cloths instead of suits and dress clothes, you’d end up doing an extra two loads of laundry per week at home.  For each load of laundry, you’d use 3 oz. of Tide, 2 oz. of Downy, and one Downy Dryer sheet.  Mary:  I’m on the Tide brand team.  This could be cool to figure out!  Our research shows that the average American family washes between 300-390 loads of laundry per year.  If we could increase the number of loads by two per week, that’s an extra 104 loads per year.  We make a profit of about .10 cents per ounce on Tide, .06 cents per ounce on Downy fabric softener, and .02 cents per dryer sheet of Downy Sheets.  Bill:  With those numbers we can figure it out I think!Pete:  Ok, each employee does two extra loads of wash per week.  Over 52 weeks, they are using 312 ounces more of Tide, 208 more ounces of Downy, and 104 more Dryer Sheets. The profit to the company then would be $31.20 on Tide; $12.48 for Downy; and $2.08 on Downy Sheets.  That adds up to $45.76 of net profit to the company for every one of the 10,000 employees here at headquarters, every year.  That’s $457,600 in profit per year for the Company!Mary:  So by having employees wear casual clothing instead of business attire, the company will make a profit of $457,600 per year?  That’s amazing!Bill:  And it would save employees a bunch of money in the meantime!John:  So let’s figure out the net benefit for each employee.  The retail cost of Tide is .21 cents per ounce; Downy 8.4 cents per ounce; Dryer sheets 5.6 cents each.  So by doing two extra loads of laundry each week, the employee will have an added expense of .35 cents per load. If they wash two extra loads per week, that will cost them $36.40 more in Tide, Downy and Downy sheets over the year to do those extra loads.  BUT they will save a bunch of money by not having to go to the dry cleaner anymore.  So, if the average employee is spending $972.25 per year on dry cleaning ($462.50 (50% males) + $1482.00 (50% females) / 2 = $972.25), they will be saving on average $935.85 per year on dry cleaning costs!  If the average employee makes $75,000 a year, that’s a 1.2% raise each employee will in effect be getting by going casual!  The employee saves money; the Company makes more money – everybody wins! Mary:  Somebody should tell that to our President AG Lafley. I think he’d be surprised.

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