When you issue uniform to your staff, employees will have a responsibility towards the uniform garments you provide, Whether that responsibility is specified within their employment contract, within the uniform policy itself or simply implied.

A main responsibility is that employees must treat, handle, and launder their uniforms properly, so that uniforms last a minimum period of time.

Whatever the uniform responsibilities outlined at your company, here are some tips on how to encourage and manage employee uniform responsibilities.

Make sure employees understand and know your company uniform policy

"Just because you don't understand, doesn't make it so" - Lemony Snicket

A first step in encouraging and managing employees in regards to their uniform is to make sure that each and every employee knows your uniform policy. Every new starter should have the policy explained, and it's advisable to have training or a meeting each time the policy is altered or updated.

Make sure employees fully understand what they have to wear each day and what looks are and aren't acceptable. Allow employees to ask questions and make sure that the uniform policies have fully sunk in.

Sometimes people zone out in meetings, so back up the information in manageable ways. Maybe send an email to confirm what was agreed, or add a note to the notice board.

Ensure employees care for uniforms properly

If your employees are expected to take their uniforms home, ensure they have proper washing and care instructions to make sure each uniform garment lasts an appropriate length of time.

You do not want company uniforms to become threadbare or discoloured within a few months if possible.

Employees should treat their uniforms as they would their own clothing, and as if they paid for it themselves. Some companies do actually expect employees to purchase at least some of their own uniform for this specific reason - it helps instil pride in their appearance.

Some companies take uniform care upon themselves.

For example, some organisations prefer employees to arrive at work in their own clothes and get changed on the premises, leaving their uniforms at work.

This requires providing changing facilities, usually a laundering service organised by the company and employees picking up a freshly laundered uniform before each shift. Then it is returned and laundered by the company itself.

This ensures the company takes responsibility for uniforms and workwear cutting down on the risks of items being washed incorrectly, lost, stolen, or damaged during non-operational activities.

Replace uniforms that are damaged or unsightly

Threadbare uniform gives the wrong impression

If an employee has taken good care of their uniform and items are still damaged and becoming unsightly, it is a good idea to replace items for them - or at least help with the costs. Replacing tatty items will make your employee appreciate you as a company because it shows that you care and notice your employees.

Some employees will hold onto items longer than necessary as a cost-saving measure. However, a good uniform supplier will give an estimate of the lifespan of a garment so you know how long each piece should last when cared for.

Try not to squeeze an extra six months to a year out of garments that are not looking their best as that hurts your company image. If a customer comes to an establishment and employees look shabby, they may not come back.

Management should model policies

Policies should be modelled by management, meaning that everyone in management should always wear their uniform appropriately and correctly.

If those in authority fail to follow the rules they set themselves, they are not setting good examples for those who work under them and those employees may become discouraged and lacklustre.

Management should enforce policies

If an employee is seen breaking the rules, then management should privately take that employee aside and ask if they understand the policy. If they do, ask why they are not wearing the correct uniform.

Follow through on your uniform policy letter statements for disciplinary action as stated. It's a good idea - at least the first few times - to be lenient. It may also be a good idea to have spare uniforms available if an employee simply forgot an item.

Encourage openness and instead of having to root out rule breakers, make sure they come to you to explain why they don't have an item so it can be remedied. Companies that provide uniforms before each shift can combat many of these issues though.

Encourage staff feedback

You may have an airtight uniform policy, but if staff are unhappy then a great policy will not do much good. Always encourage staff feedback, especially when you are in the early stages of uniform adoption.

Ask staff if they are happy with the uniform, if they would like anything changed, if it is comfortable, what would they like to see improved, and more to gauge happiness overall.

A staff that is happy with their uniform, finds it comfortable, and feels they look good in their uniform is more likely to wear it without complaint.

Follow these six simple steps to encourage and manage uniform responsibilities for yourself and your employees - and you will have a happier, healthier staff overall.