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Staff Uniform Policy: Where Do I Start?

You may be responsible for developing and maintaining HR processes, hiring new staff or are in a role where understanding employee needs at a high-level are essential. If you work in HR or personnel, you may have considered developing a staff uniform policy for your organisation at some point - but where do you start? While understanding what a uniform policy contains and how to build it out is one thing (and quite a challenge) - understanding what comes before that is ultimately key.

This blog outlines the key milestones you should address as you start you uniform policy journey.

They are:

  • Identifying the issues and setting goals
  • Holding a meeting with your senior team
  • Creating a scope of work/project plan
  • Opening up communication
  • Start thinking about violations
  • Start formal consultations

Identifying the issues and setting goals

The first step towards creating a staff uniform policy is to clearly identify and outline any issues that you expect the implementation of the policy to resolve. You may have specific and regularly reported incidents of inappropriate or non-compliant uniform being worn. Or you have simply realised that the warehouse staff have been wearing the same polo shirts and combats for the past 5 years and that team needs an update. 

Either way, outlining the core issue(s) and having this agreed at a senior level ensures that you, as the individual responsible for delivering this change, is clear on the main areas to focus on or 'fix'. We'd suggest picking around 3 issues. These can be very closely interlinked, or a group that follow from one larger issue such as safety concerns - but by having more than one - you'll be better equipped to communicate the need for change.


Next up are goals. We suggest making your goals SMART so that they are clear to everyone and are reachable within a realistic time frame. SMART stands for: 

  • Specific - you should have a smart goal for each individual issue (if you have more than one).
  • Measurable - identifying the metrics you can track, such as accidents or complaints.
  • Achievable - don't set your goals too high or they will become demotivating.
  • Relevant - does this goal specifically assist YOUR organisation or is it just a general goal? Make sure your goals are customised to your business, it's culture and people.
  • Timely - by giving yourself a specific time frame (eg. 6 months) you'll draw a line in the sand to work towards. Without this, excuses can be given and you'll never get the policy off the ground.

Here's an example of a what a SMART goal could look like:

Reduce the number of PPE uniform violations in the off-site team by 80% in 12 months

Reduce the number of warehouse staff uniform complaints by 30% in the next 6 months

Speak to senior management

The next step in creating a uniform policy is to discuss the idea with the management team. We've put this as the second step as we believe that taking the above planning and goals to your senior team shows commitment and will clearly explain what you are trying to achieve. This will, in turn, have a bigger impact and quickly alleviate any pressure from that team if the idea came from them. You'll look really organised and professional, basically.

Present your issues list and SMART goals and get these agreed. Once everyone agrees there are issues and that the intended goals are something they want to happen - any budget requirements or resulting plans should be signed off much quicker.

Create a scope of work/project plan

Next up, you should outline the outcomes and objectives of your uniform policy project. This is a development of the SMART goals you set earlier, now taking a more practical view on exactly what will (and will not) be done.

Of course, a uniform policy document should be top of the outcome list, but you may look to bring in new processes such as uniform reviews, a potential increase in budget and the implementation of new technologies. 

Some of these will not be made apparent until after project completion but you should now clearly outline what this policy project will and will not be doing. 

Project Planning Tip: create a shared Google Doc spreadsheet timeline and break down into weekly blocks. Give the management team access and assign names next to tasks, meetings and feedback where others are required. Update and share every Monday morning so that everyone is up to date on what has been done and can see that you are following through on the agreed plan.

Initiate (informal) consultation

You've now outlined the issues and communicated the scope of the project and what you aim to achieve with your leadership team. Now is a great time to begin discussing uniforms with those that matter the most - your staff.

Start by creating an open forum (maybe an informal chat at lunch, a quick email or suggestion box - whatever works for you) to get a feel for your team's current opinion on uniform. This shouldn't impact your SMART goals or intended outcomes, but may inform your approach or highlight particular aspects to pay closer attention to.

Most of all, this shows your staff initially that they are involved in the process, they are being listened to and their opinions are valued. Take high-level notes and add this to your project plan on a separate tab, they'll be handy to reference when you begin the formal consultation process.

Decide how the policy will be enforced

Before you begin drawing up any actual documents, it's worthwhile deciding how your policy will be managed. What will the decisions made by policy enforcement achieve? If your issue is staff violation of safety regulations, policy may be used in a disciplinary procedure (and rightly so). If you have an image problem or a rebrand - the policy may simply be used as a guideline or tool for employees to reference rather than a 'hard stick' to be governed by.

Either way, agreeing how uniform policy violations are addressed is a logical next step. The decisions made here should be written into the uniform policy and work in tandem with the issues you are trying to resolve. 

Begin consultation process (formally)

Now the fun really begins. By front-loading your preparation and discussions over the past few weeks, you're now well placed to start making some real policy decisions and announcing to the organisation that changes are going to be made and why.

At this stage, management is on board and agree with your intentions, goals and scope - and the wider team should have been primed to at least begin thinking about their uniform. You should have also included some of their concerns/ideas in the delivery of your project plan, increasing buy-in from those traditionally disconnected from 'bigger picture' changes.

Next Step:

Now you know how to effectively begin the uniform policy process, read our blog on how to deploy a uniform policy in your business here


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