Company uniforms come with countless benefits. It's shown to increase productivity, ease employee life and create solidarity among employees. Is it as simple as choosing a design and rolling it out to all staff, though? You could choose to have a 'one style fits all' policy, where everyone in your organisation wears identical uniforms. Alternatively, you could have several workwear styles for employees to choose from on a daily basis, or you could even select different styles and designs for each individual department. But which option is better?
Can one company uniform suit everyone in an office? We're going to debate that now. We'll outline the fors and againsts to help you determine which option is right for your company. The fors and againsts are:
Builds Equality Creates Employee Ease Boosts Productivity Offers A Cheaper Option
Causes Limitations To Roles Fits Can Be Unflattering May Breach The Equality Act Sends The Wrong Company Message For Builds Equality
If everyone in a entire office wears the same uniform, then everyone is equal. In terms of school uniforms, the common case for uniforms is that you won't be able to tell which students are richer and which students are poorer. In an office, though, this isn't going to be as relevant. Instead of creating equality between the various classes, it creates equality among directors, senior management, management and entry level staff.
It also creates equality between men and women in the office. Countless women worry about what to wear to work. They're concerned about whether their outfit will be too revealing or make them look too attractive which would result in them not being taken seriously. Many female managers report wearing heels to appear more powerful as they're worried they won't be considered so naturally. In fact, many companies still require women to wear high-heels as part of their uniform policy, to help them be seen as equals to men.
A one uniform suits all policy means that you can cut through all this inequality.
Creates Employee Ease
If employees have one set uniform to wear at all times then it cuts down on their time, especially in the morning. Staff won't be rummaging around in their wardrobes, trying to find the pants that go with the top only to find it's in the wash basket. Not having to painstakingly select an outfit what will impress the accounts manager they fancy or will impress that important client eliminates a lot of morning stress.
Now this is extrapolated from the results of just one study. Matilda Kahl chose a smart outfit, plain black trousers, white blouse, neck tie and blazer jacket, and decided to wear it every single work day for 3 whole years. She wanted to test the effect of wearing the same uniform every single day at work. She didn't plan on it going on for 3 years, but she loved it so much that she continued. From her personal results, she concluded that wearing the same thing every day made her life easier AND boosted her productivity as a result.
Offers A Cheaper Option
Having just one uniform can have money-saving benefits for both employees and the company. For employees. they don't need to buy and maintain between 5-10 different work outfits. This magazine worked out that on average worker, who is required to wear 'business' attire at work, like silk blouses, pencil skirts, heals, suits, the sort of things you wouldn't usually buy, spends almost £900 on work clothes each year. They also spend 3 hours a month, or 36 hours a year shopping for work clothes. If you're a man required to wear a full, corporate suit, the price for work attire goes up even more.
So, having one uniform, even if the company doesn't cover the cost of it, dramatically reduces the amount of money employees are funneling into their work attire.
Next is the money saving for the company. Most workwear suppliers have a minimum order requirement. So if you want to order only a few of what your employees want, say only 5 hoodies, 5 polo shirts and 5 shirts, you won't be able to do that.
Xamax aren't like most workwear suppliers, though. We don't have any minimum order requirements, so it's simple to order exactly what you want, even if that's just one of something. Browse our selection or get in touch now to order without the restrictions.
Against Causes Limitations To Roles
An employee uniform can cause limitations to someone's role. For someone who sorts the post in your office, lifting packages into pigeon holes, a tight fitting jumper it going to limit their movement. For the desk worker, typing away, they're not too concerned with freeing arm movements.
Limitations can also come with seasons. If you choose a hoodie as your company uniform, then during summer your employees will be suffering from excessive sweating. Same thing if you choose a light, breezy polo shirt. In the winter months, it'll be covered up with each employees own jumper, fleece, cardigan or hoodie, ruining all the benefits of having a uniform. If an employee has a role where they're going between buildings then they're going to be too cold or hot depending on the uniform.
So, a uniform needs to be comfortable for all roles, which just isn't feasible with a 'one style suits all' mentality.
Fits Can Be Unflattering
An unflattering uniform can serious hinder employee confidence and productivity. If an employee is really unhappy with the way the uniform looks on them, communication deteriorates through fear of being judged by both colleagues and clients.
On the other hand, attractive uniforms can enhance self-esteem. But what is attractive on one employee, will look ugly and ill-fitting on another, so having some choice of uniform style is seriously important.
May Breach The Equality Act
Forcing all employees into wearing one style of uniform may end up with you breaching The Equality Act 2010. Certain cultural backgrounds or faiths have strict dress requirements. Under The Equality Act, it's illegal to require someone to wear something that would restrict their right to religious freedom. For example, a short-sleeved polo shirt would be restricting so some religions as it shows bare arms. Other religious, such as Rastafarianism, have restrictions as to what kind of fabric the clothes they wear are made of.
Uniforms, then, should have some degree of flexibility to ensure you don't open yourself up to discrimination law suits.
Sends The Wrong Company Message
Different departments of an office usually need to give off different 'vibes'. A sales team would traditionally need to be dressed more formally in order to demonstrate to potential clients you're a professional and responsible company.
A writing or website design department would usually want to give off a more artsy and individual image to show that they are creatives. Having one uniform across all departments could send out the wrong messages about your company. Uniforms are amazing for creating an image for yourself so you wouldn't want to possible ruin that with an all-for-one policy.
So, there you have the debate. We've covered the for and against but it's really down to you to decide what's best for your company. Usually, having one, limited option for uniforms causes employee complaints to sky-rocket. But, if you have a small of office of only 10-15 people, it might not be an issue at all. Consider your unique company, or better yet, ask your staff what they'd prefer.
How Do You Create A Uniform Employees Will Love?
The best thing to do is to ask. Send a questionnaire to gauge their opinions and preferences. You never know how they're going to feel unless you ask. You want to get this process spot-on though.