Having an agreement between your employees in regards to their uniform or dress code is pivotal to creating a great working environment for your employees. You're not required by law to have one, so why even bother? Well, an employee uniform policy agreement is important for many reasons.
It's a viable option to tell employees the general guidelines for dress code or simply hand them the uniform and leave it at that. But it's a sure-fire way to create a HR headache. We're going to look at some of the best benefits to having an agreement. These major advantages are:
Explains Company Expectations Makes Things Easy For New Starters Prioritises Safety Ensures Consistency Receive Fewer Complaints Safeguards Against Legal Action Explains Company Expectations
Simply telling your employees that your office dress code is 'smart casual' or giving out the uniform with no other information is bound to create misunderstandings. Tim working as a cashier might think that wearing earrings or having a nose piercing is acceptable under those guidelines. Susan from accounting might consider vest tops as formal wear but head office might disagree entirely. Saying 'smart casual' dress is open to interpretation and can lead to disagreement and upset senior management and employees.
Having a uniform policy agreement is a great way, not only of explaining what the company means by 'formal' or 'casual', but of ensuring that employees have the shared agreement of those words, too. This appeases both employees and senior management, while creating a better harmony between the two parties.
Makes Things Easy For New Starters
In addition to ensuring current employees know what's expected of them, it also gets new starters on the same page from day one. Many people worry about what to wear on their first day. With a signed agreement in place, new employees will know straight away what's OK and what isn't from the get-go, meaning they won't get called out on their first week for something they assumed would be fine. That doesn't create a good first impression of your company, nor will it make them want to stay in the long run. So an agreement makes things simple for both parties from the off.
If your workplace has health and safety considerations which are required by law, then it's exceedingly important to get employees to agree to them. If not, how do you even know they're aware of the health and safety factors? Some jobs require PPE while others might have considerations as simple as 'it's not safe to wear open-toe shoes'. But you've no way of knowing that employees remember that information if you told them on their first day along with a million other things.
Having employees read and sign a uniform or dress code agreement combats this and ensures that all staff are safe on the job.
In an office without any dress code agreements, you might see a sales team of eight members with inconsistent dress. 7 of these members come to work wearing smart, tailored skirts with waistcoats and bow ties. 1 member of the team arrives at work wearing baggy jeans and a tie-dye t-shirt.
With an agreement in place, this sales team would all know what their company would like from them. If it was formal, then the one member of a team coming in jeans would swap to a suit or more formal wear. If the company wants to be modern and casual, then the other members could begin wearing what they feel more comfortable with. Either way, your company will begin to appear more consistent across the board, which also helps create a sense of unity in employees.
Receive Fewer Complaints
Ever had that one older and formal member of staff come in to complain because a younger member of the team comes in a hoodie? That can be cut out with a policy agreement in place. Staff won't complain about informal dress by their colleagues if it's outlined as OK in the policy they've agreed to. So, why make more complaints for yourself to deal with when you can half them with a dress code agreement?
Safeguards Against Legal Action
With an agreed-upon uniform or dress code, you can open yourself up to legal action from disgruntled employees. You might have heard about the landmark 2016 case of the receptionist who was fired for not wearing high heels to work and is now suing that employer. If your employees don't agree to the terms you lay out for their dress, then you could be open to legal action.
If they sign a uniform agreement, however, they have consented to the standards and expectations that you require and the consequences you have outlined. That means you can't action any lawsuits against you. So overall, you're effectively creating more work and more hassle for yourself if you don't have an agreement in place. It also creates a nicer working environment for all employees, not just yourself.
So, How Do You Create A Uniform Policy Agreement?
Now that you know why the policy is important, how do you even go about planning and implementing one in your own company? Well, there's a lot to consider as you need to cover every aspect so you don't face any employee backlash - which leads us to the first point...
Canvas Employee thoughts
Talking to your employees and taking their ideas on board is the root of a successful uniform policy. It boosts ownership, it encourages buy-in and it helps you get it right the first time. By getting their thoughts, it gives employees a chance to highlight their thoughts and provide useful information which might include certain materials they do and don't like, along with certain fits and styles which they believe might be more comfortable and could help them be more productive. Without taking their thoughts into consideration, it gives employees a platform to voice their negative thoughts, which can be avoided early on.
decide on what the policy should be
Once you have set your budget, you need to ask yourself what the core problem is you're trying to fix with a uniform policy. It can be a range of things, from wanting the workforce to look more professional to helping them boost morale, create unity and increase productivity. It's important to convey this message to the employees too. If they're aware of the reasons why your company is taking this decision, it will ease the onboarding process. If there's silence on your part and they receive a letter stating that they're expected wear a uniform the following week, they won't be buying in to the switch as easily as you'd hope.
Produce your policy documents
You need to provide employees with as much information as possible, not just one letter. Uniforms can always spring up certain issues, such as needing replacements or what to do when an employee needs an extra pair, for example. That's why your documents need to include relevant steps employees should take in certain scenarios. There needs to be information on who they should contact for general enquiries about their uniforms. It's also important to outline in the documents what the process is for uniform violations along with how uniforms will comply with religious beliefs.
Send out an announcement letter
Sending out the announcement letter is when it will all start to feel real for the employees. Again, communicating with employees is the key to a seamless transition without any negative backlash. So, distribute these letters which highlights all of their queries and will ease their worries about the uniform policy coming into effect. It's vital that you send this letter out well ahead of time, as you can't expect employees to get on board with the change within a few days or a week. When you have decided when the policy comes into play, send out the letter as soon as possible which gives employees enough time to digest the change and come to terms with it.
Need Help When Ordering A Uniform And Rolling Out The Policy? We can help...
Planning and implementing an effective uniform policy clearly takes a lot of work, especially if you want to get it correct the first time. Don't make the mistake of diving straight into it. A uniform policy takes a lot of careful planning. This includes talking it through with staff, explaining why a uniform policy is being implemented and how to document things properly. In our free pack, we've included plenty of information ranging from a uniform policy letter guideline, to a questionnaire and a checklist of items you may need.
Download your FREE copy of the uniform policy pack today.