Deciding whether or not your team should wear a uniform is a tough choice. There are many pros and cons to both sides, and there are many successful companies that do and don’t wear uniforms. There’s certainly no right or easy answer, but it is a question that you should give some consideration. It might not seem like that big a deal, but uniforms can have a significant effect on your business, especially if you work with the public day to day, perhaps in a restaurant or store. While, of course, you can change your mind later on, implementing uniforms, and then deciding against them can be costly, and the more changes that you make, the harder it will be to develop your brand.
In some industries, a uniform, or at least a partial uniform might be essential for health and safety. Your team might need to wear protective clothing, or an apron for hygiene reasons. In which case, your decision is made, and you need to get to work finding the right items. But, in most sectors, things are much more flexible. So, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of wearing a uniform at work, as well as some alternative ideas if you decide that a uniform isn’t right for you, but still, want some of the benefits.
People are used to seeing employees wearing uniforms. It’s a tradition as old as big business, and there’s a reason for that. It works. Uniforms take out the element of trend. Not that they can’t be fashionable, they certainly can. But trends come and go. Fashion is continuously changing, and if you let your team wear whatever they want, you risk a mismatched workforce in different colo
If you have a uniform, it’s classic. You can still update styles over the years, to stay up to date, but everyone will always look smart.
Two – Uniforms can be more hygienic
Uniforms should only be worn for work. Ideally, your staff would travel in wearing their own clothes and get changed when they arrive, especially if you work with food or medicine. This limits cross-contamination and reduces the risk of germs and bacteria being bought into the workplace. While this is more important in those industries, it can still be beneficial in others.
Having a uniform also means that if something is spilled, your staff are able to change before they go home. It makes it much easier for them to go out after work without having to go home first. If you keep some spares on site, it also allows them to change, and finish their shift in the same well-presented and clean condition that they started it in.
Three – A uniform is great advertising
A uniform is fantastic advertising. Even if your staff don’t travel to and from work wearing it, people see a uniform, and they remember it. It becomes well known and helps you to build your brand. If it’s uniquely stylish or attractive, people will talk about it, and your competitors will show an interest. It’s subtle, but effective advertising, which is often the best kind.
Four – A uniform could save your employees money
Many employees enjoy wearing a uniform to work, partly because it saves their own clothes. If they start to work in their own clothes, they don’t last as long, and replacements need to be bought more often. Getting a free uniform from your employer can actually save you money. You might also be able to get a small tax rebate towards washing it, depending on what you do and where you are from.
Five – It can help build team spirit
Building team spirit is essential if you want your business to do well. A team that like each other, that work well together and respect each other, work better. They know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, they fall into a pattern with each other, and they get more done. Morale is high, and you’ve created a positive workforce. Wearing uniforms that are the same can help to bring them together and bond them, and it removes the risk of competition over who’s got the best clothes.
Six – Easy identification
If your business is a busy store or restaurant, that is often full. It can be very hard to pick out a member of staff. It’s difficult to offer excellent customer service if your customers have to work hard to look for a member of the team to help them. Give them uniforms, and they’ll stand out and be easier to spot.
Seven – It helps you to avoid issues with inappropriate clothing
If you tell your staff that they can wear their own clothing, you risk them turning up to work in inappropriate clothing. Skirts might be too short, shirts too loose, graphics inappropriate. It can be hard to keep on top of things, and it can take up a lot of your time dealing with clothing issues.
Eight – Increased security
It’s much easier to spot people that are somewhere that they shouldn’t be if they look different. If everyone in the back of house areas has to wear a uniform, it’s easy to spot someone out of uniform that shouldn’t be there. This can help you to manage security.
One – You have to design it
Coming up with uniform ideas isn’t easy. As a small business, you might not want to spend money on a designer, but coming up with uniform ideas that are stylish, practical, and noticeable isn’t as easy as you might think.
Two- Greater business costs
Having uniforms might save your employees money, but it adds another cost to your business. You won’t want cheap uniforms that look bad and get damaged easily, but you might not be able to afford much more. Are the costs worth it?
Three – Limits employees ability to show their personality
A uniform is a great way to build your brand and show off your company style. But what about your staff members style? Their individuality is a big part of what makes your business what it is. Would letting it show be a bad thing? Do they all need to look the same?
Four – Not everyone will like it
Unless you’ve got a small team of people with precisely the same body shape and taste, there’s absolutely no chance that every member of your team will be happy with your uniform designs. If they hate wearing something, they won’t be comfortable, they won’t enjoy their job, and they might not be able to work to the best of their ability.
Five – It might not fit everyone
Another risk is that the uniform that you provide won’t fit everyone. You’re unlikely to have every size possible in stock in your office. To save money, you’ll just hold the more popular sizes. Then, one day you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of someone telling you that it doesn’t meet their needs. You can always order something in, but there’s still been an awkward situation.
Six – It highlights chain of command
If you are going to have a uniform, are you going to wear it yourself? Or will you be dressed either in your own clothes or in something different? While having a visible chain of command can be a good thing, it might make your team feel undermined and uncomfortable. They might not enjoy looking less important. It’s just another thing that you are going to have to think about if you are going to introduce uniforms to your workplace.
Some alternative ideas
If you work in a retail store, one idea is giving the staff a uniform allowance to buy stock. Having members of your team model your current stock as they work is an excellent way to show it off. Customers like seeing people wearing the clothes that they want to buy, and it clearly highlights that the clothing is wearable and that you can work in it easily. Of course, this only works if at least some of your stock is more informal and comfortable. You can’t expect them to work in formal dresses, for example. If you cho0se to do this, you could still make them stand out as staff by adding something small like a name badge, enamel pins, or a lanyard.
Another option is a dress code. Let your staff wear what they want, within reason. Have a clear dress code, showing what they can and can’t wear. Be specific, including details like allowed colo