Almost two thirds (65%) of Generation Z – 18-22 years old’s – feel judged based on their appearance at work, according to graduate job board Milkround.
And, more than a third (36%) actively worry about being ridiculed for their clothes.
This concern has not gone unfounded given that 15% have received negative comments from supposed “work friends”.
Gen Z are the generation most anxious about their appearance in the workplace.
Almost three quarters (74%) of Gen Z employees even feel stressed getting ready for work and choosing what to wear on a daily basis, compared to just 14% of Baby Boomers.
Not only do dress codes cause stress for Gen Z employees, but nearly half (40%) think that they actually increase the likelihood of being judged by appearance rather than performance – defying their original purpose.
This is seen in the day-to-day, but mostly when it comes to interviews as nearly half of Gen Z employees (43%) felt they missed out on landing a job based on what they wore to an interview.
HR teams and senior decision makers mirror this thought-process, as 75% admit they would write someone off for a role based on how they were dressed at interview stage.
Office dress codes are intended to provide a useful guide to employees, but instead this has resulted in financial anxiety as well.
The average Gen Z employee spends approx. £1,189.20 a year on work clothes to keep up with office standards.
This means they’re spending significantly more than their older colleagues, a shocking 160% more than the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation, who spend just £457.20 a year.
The pressure to look your best at work has created a wider issue, where 70% of Gen Z have bought clothes for work and returned them to the store after use; 21% admit to doing this regularly.
Georgie Brazier, Graduate Jobs Expert at Milkround said: “An alarming amount of Gen Z’ers are feeling increasingly stressed about their physical appearance in the workplace.
“These feelings are then heavily compounded by issues around budget and judgement from employers, alongside pressures from social media.”
Love Island star Zara McDermott, comments on the research, saying: “As a member of Generation Z, I am lucky that I am now, more than ever able to express myself though the way I present myself.
“Fashion, hairstyle and even makeup can be adapted to mirror how I want to look to the outside world.
“However, in some environments – like the workplace – people judge others that choose to express themselves through these means and this has happened to me whilst in my work in the government and still now in a more creative medium.”