Compulsory uniforms: Good idea or not?

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For many professionals, the days of wearing uniforms may have ended with high school – but for an increasing percentage of the Australian workforce, their outfit is the same every single day.

50.2%* of employees in Australia now wear uniforms to work, according to a workplace survey. It was also found that the major reason employer’s introduce a uniform is to increase the professional look of the company. Other motivations included making it easier for customers to identify staff members and making it easier to manage the personal appearance of employees.

But when it comes to how employees feel about uniform dressing, they are far less excited about being clad in company designed work wear. Just 40% of respondents who wear a uniform say they prefer wearing a uniform over their own clothing.

Yet despite the reluctance from some workers to don the corporate colours, when done correctly, dressing in uniforms can really unify a team and be a powerful branding tool for Australian companies. “Uniforms have received a bad rap in the past, mainly due to their perceived inconvenience,” Employment Office MD Tudor Marsden-Huggins commented. “There’s been a sentiment that employees don’t like wearing uniforms, and in turn management don’t like enforcing them on unwilling staff members,” he added.

But given how powerful a staff uniform can be as a branding tool, it’s essential to match the uniform to your product, and to do your best to ensure employees enjoy wearing it. In fact, a functional, well-designed uniform in a contemporary style can make employees lives easier, Marsden-Huggins said.

By wearing a uniform, many employees feel a sense of belonging. A high standard of dress and personal presentation becomes a source of pride among staff and a part of a company’s identity as a business.

For employers thinking about introducing a staff uniform, or aiming to increase employee satisfaction with their current uniform, there are ways to make it a success.

Top tips
 

  • Uniforms illicit the most enthusiasm and co-operation when employees are involved in the selection and design process.
     
  • Seek advice and feedback about look, form and function – this will help minimise potential problems with the uniform being unfit for purpose or staff dreading to wear it.
     
  • It is also essential to educate your employees and let them know the reasons why a uniform is being introduced.

*Survey conducted by recruitment marketing firm Employment Office.

  • SD on 12/02/2013 3:16:55 PM

    I was in a discussion where we were asked to throw around ideas which we thought were good, but taboo. One was uniforms for employees. The reasoning was as follows: " Clothes make an impression, which can lead to an unconsious bias. A number of studies have highlighted how 'power dressing' anc help you career, but if you are not a stylish dresser, you might be left behind for no fault of yours. Uniforms enable the managers/ customers and other stake holder to go beyond the clothes you are wearing and encourage evaluation based on your contributions and ideas."

    I found this rather interesting. Glad to hear your views.

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