There are plenty of companies that do not require employees to wear formal uniforms. And by formal, we mean uniforms that go beyond typical streetwear. They are defined by company logos, branded color palettes, name tags, etc. Many such uniforms are distinct enough that they could not be worn as street clothing.
So why would a company not previously requiring formal uniforms make the switch? There is no single answer. Uniforms are an individual kind of thing. What prompts one company to switch may not have any impact on another.
Below is a discussion of the most common reasons companies switch to formal uniforms. According to Alsco, a national uniform rental company, your company might want to consider switching to formal uniforms if you have observed any of them in your workplace.
1. Trouble Identifying Workers
There are times when customers are unable to correctly identify workers because there is no visible difference between them and other customers. For instance, imagine a hardware store at which all of the employees are dressed in jeans and work shirts. It could be nearly impossible to distinguish workers from customers simply because they are all dressed in street clothes. Adopting a formal uniform solves that problem.
Being unable to do distinguish between workers and customers is not generally a problem in office environments – especially when the company operates as a business-to-business (B2B) enterprise. Still, offices do welcome visitors from time to time. A lack of some sort of identifying apparel could cause a problem.
2. Customer Complaints about Professionalism
Sometimes, distinguishing workers from customers is not the problem. Rather, the company begins receiving complaints from customers about a lack of professionalism. The truth is that customers form their opinions of the companies they do business with within the first few minutes of contact.
If that first contact is visual, and the company puts forth a less-than-professional appearance, customers could form a bad opinion before they ever have an opportunity to experience customer service. That’s not good. If customers are telling you that your company doesn’t present a professional image, you might want to take a long, hard look at implementing a formal uniform program.
3. Complaints from Staff Members
There is a very good in-house reason for implementing a formal uniform program. That reason is a steady stream of staff member complaints regarding their work clothing. A typical complaint is that staff members are spending too much money for clothing that does not last very long in the work environment.
A good example would be a machine shop. Your typical machine shop is tough on street clothing. Staff members who feel like they are spending too much of their own money on work clothes may be willing to look elsewhere. They might even be willing to work for a competing machine shop that offers industrial-grade uniforms as an employee benefit.
4. Lack of Company Pride
Last but not least is a lack of company pride. Staff members who don’t take pride in their work are not likely to demonstrate a high level of commitment to customers. To be sure, there are other factors in play when companies suffer from this sort of thing. Instituting a formal uniform program is just one step in overcoming the issue.
Uniforms create a sense of unity. They help staff members feel as though they belong to something bigger than themselves. Formal uniforms may not fully overcome a lack of company pride, but they sure do go a long way.
So how is your company doing? Is it time to consider implementing a formal uniform program for your staff?