Work Uniforms vs Casual Dress Codes: What is best for your business?
Wondering about implementing a new work uniform policy into your business? Or simply just thinking about changing your current one? This article outlines the benefits and drawbacks of kitting your team out in uniforms or introducing a casual dress code. See which one works for you.
- Page Contents
- Specific Uniforms
- Dress Codes
A uniform is prescriptive and ensures that everyone is dressed in the same way. This can be company provided free of charge or staff can have the costs deducted from their pay.
There are several benefits:
Depending on your sector, uniforms will vary a large amount. But one thing that never changes from job to job is that smart uniforms make your business look professional.
For retail workers, your uniform is a walking billboard for the company and it will cement your place in the public’s eye as a well-established, successful business.
Branded uniforms in retail are an absolute must, especially if you have locations in shopping centres and malls. As many different company's staff could be working near to each other. A branded uniform helps you and your customers identify your employees easily, and from a distance.
Just as sports teams and school children wear uniforms to promote unity, businesses are no different. By introducing a work uniform policy, your employees will then feel a true sense of belonging.
If your team are all working towards the same goals, dressed in the same uniform, then they will feel more aligned with company values.
Wearing a work uniform is a reminder to the human brain that you are going to work. It is a constant reminder of who you are working for too, so it gives a sense of accountability. With these two in mind, employees will then be more focused which will have a positive effect on efficiency and productivity levels.
Not only that, removing your uniform at the end of a day helps employees to "clock off" properly - aiding restfulness and wellbeing.
Even for people working from home during the pandemic, by putting on their uniform they feel more "at work" than at home. And it gives a visual clue to other members of the household that Mummy or Daddy is busy.
It is a good idea to have variations of your uniform that your employees can choose from - for example, shorts and lightweight cotton polo shirts for outdoor workers, a choice of dress shirts and polo shirts. Everyone is different and likes to dress for their mood. Having choices allows for this personal freedom without compromising on the uniform benefits.
Employees are easily recognisable if a customer needs help. For front-facing, customer-based companies, having a uniform that establishes company brand may be an excellent idea. Think of Foot Locker and their instantly recognisable referee-like uniforms.
However, be sure to have employee input on this point, such as providing uniform options, ensuring the uniform is both stylish and comfortable - and flatters most body types.
Certain industries require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or Hi Vis workwear, so it is a must that you implement a uniform policy which caters for this. From road maintenance workers to hotel cleaners, there are different measures that can be put in place that prioritise safe dress.
A dress code still achieves a similar appearance, but the specific items being worn are not identical. For example, “white shirt and black trousers” rather than a company issued, branded shirt and trousers.
This has its own added benefits:
A dress code allows your employees to be flexible in what they wear to work. This in turn allows them to express themselves which brings out a degree of personality too.
By allowing your staff to wear what they like (within the guidelines), you will no doubt see a boost in morale which can only mean good things for your business.
However, there needs to be some set boundaries. The whole idea of a dress code is for your team to feel as comfortable as possible, but it can sometimes become too casual. Ensure that your dress code outlines that clothes worn are not too scruffy or revealing, as this will give off the totally wrong impression about your business.
It is easy for this method to become subjective but if you communicate your desires effectively there will be less confusion.
As everybody in the workplace will be dressed in the similar but personal attire, in theory, there should be no differentiation between the hierarchical layers of the business.
Your team will massively appreciate this as they feel like they are on a level with the senior management, which makes them seem more approachable and willing to help right down the employee structure of the company.
In an office environment, especially, this can prove to make a huge difference.
With a dress code, comfort is key. When buying uniforms for every employee, there is bound to be somebody who dislikes it or somebody who it doesn’t fit quite right. By letting your team choose what they wear, it allows them to be comfortable 100 percent of the time.
Providing a range of clothes for your employees to choose from allows them to be comfortable in all different temperature types. A great example of this is Royal Mail. Over the year, you will see posties out delivering in branded fleeces, raincoats, jumpers and shorts. This is perfect for all weathers so they can still get a great job done while looking smart.
It is still a uniform, but there are choices - it creates a “uniform look” but with flexibility.