Whether or not you should insist your staff wear uniforms can be an emotive subject often met with resistance. So, we thought we would provide you with 10 good reasons why uniforms can help your business, your brand and your staff.
1. Uniforms Encourage Team Spirit
It stands to reason that if everyone is wearing the same, a team spirit will develop. Everyone is equal and are part of the same group, and so will start acting as such.
2. Uniforms are a cost saving for staff
Providing staff with uniforms prevents wear and tear on their own clothes and/or protects clothes (think aprons and coveralls). They don't need to spend their hard earned money on work wear. If you have ever worked for a big corporate business you will know how competitive the office wear scene is! To keep up with the Jonses men and women are devoting large amounts of their money each year on their own work uniforms. By providing a uniform you are removing this competitive element from the workplace, placing everyone on an even keel whilst encouraging a team environment. And, lets face it, who couldn't use the extra money?
3. Health and Safety Workwear
Of course, there are some jobs where the health and safety element demands a uniform. For instance, anyone working on roads or in other dangerous areas will require hi vis clothing. There are also many jobs which will require steel cap boots. Kitchen uniforms are also designed with health and safety in mind, as is kidswear.
4. Uniforms Promote Your Company
This is a massive consideration for any company who wants a more professional look, whether you are a sole trader or a large national or international company. Perhaps you need polo shirts bearing your company name, or maybe you're going for a more corporate look? Whatever the style of uniform, if it is easily recognisable as belonging to your company it is a fantastic way of promoting it, whilst instilling your companys branding into the public consciousness.
5. Company Branding
Branding plays a massive role in any business, and, if done properly, will give you the edge over your competitors. Consistent branding which runs through every aspect of your branding, from your website, paperwork, uniforms, vehicles and everything in between will make you instantly recognisable to your customers and potential customers. Your brand is not only reflected in the name and logo on the uniform, but also on the colour itself. Think of two well known airline uniforms. Easyjet is associated with the colour orange, a colour consistently used throughout all aff unifoms. The same is true for Virgin and the colour red.
Always ensure your uniforms reinforce your brand values. There have been a number of studies into the impact of uniforms on branding and advertising. Ashwini K. Poojary from the Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University, Boston, carried out a study on whether or not uniforms are an effective marketing tool. It was already a recognised fact, he said, that uniforms are an important component of a hospitality establishments brand identity.
He explains that enhancing the knowledge of customers about the brand through marketing initiatives helps companies develop a positive brand attitude in the customer. This, in turn, helps generate a positive response for influencing the purchase activity of the customer. In other words, uniforms can increase sales!
The results of his survey highlighted the impact uniforms have on customers. The findings for all industries surveyed were as follows:
- 56.1% of respondents stated that uniforms are more effective than internet advertising.
- 73.5% of respondents stated that uniforms are more effective than TV advertising
- 74.4% of respondents stated that uniforms are more effective than radio advertising
- 75.7% of respondents stated that uniforms are more effective than billboard advertising
- 55% of respondents stated that uniforms are more effective than the Yellow Pages
- 71.5% of reposndents stated that unifoms are more effective than newspaper advertising.
From this research we can conclude that before thinking about alternative forms of advertising for your company, get your uniforms in place as a priority, as they carry more weight as a branding tool than you may have previously thought.
6. Uniforms allow customers to identify who works for the company
An obvious one we know but a consideration which is often overlooked. How many times have you been into a shop and not been able to identify who works there? Frustrating isn't it? Similarly, think about how you can stand out at trade shows and exhibitions. If you only have a limited time to make an impression, make it as easy as possible for people to identify you. It could be the difference in making a sale or not.
A study by Nelson and Bowen in 2000 (The Effect of Employee Uniforms on Employee Satisfaction) stated that 'uniforms also clarify service by giving the customers an idea of what type of service to expect'.
7. Staff wearing uniforms are more conscious of their actions
When staff know they are easily identifiable via their uniforms, they are more aware of their actions. This is of course an important consideration for all businesses, but particularly businesses where staff are often out and about without colleagues and managers watching over them. Certainly an important factor to bear in mind.
8. According to marketing professor Victoria Seitz, uniforms can result in employees becoming 'entwined' with their company, which ultimately leads to greater success for the company and increased employee loyalty. She also makes another very important point in that you can't just give you staff a uniform and think that's enough:
"You have to follow up with policies about how the uniform will be worn, such as requiring appropriate belts, shoes, socks, hairstyles and make-up. If your employees don't keep the unifom clean and pressed, or their posture is poor, or they're not making eye contact with the customers, then they'll be killing the opportunity to communicate credibly with the uniforms."
9. An attractive uniform can enhance self esteem, which in turn improves attitude
An important factor with any uniform is that it is smart and atractive. An ill-fitting, ugly uniform will certainly not invoke confidence in your staff. On the other hand, a well fitted, quality, stylish uniform can do wonders for your employees self esteem. Perhaps keeping your staff involved in the uniform decisions will ensure you end up with a more desirable, popular and stylish uniform which your staff will take ownership of, thus improving morale, confidence and performance.
If you're embarrased to be seen in your uniform, chances are very high that you are not going to make an effort to be seen by the public" Sheehan, 2003, Dressed to Impress.
10. 'Hotel Employees' uniform and their self perception in Southern California (Ronnie Yeh,Yi-Ting Tu, Ning-Kuang Chuang, Ming-Ji James Lin, Hsin-Jen Trust Lin)
A study entitled 'Hotel Employees' uniform and their self perception in Southern California investigated how different styles of uniforms affect employees self perceptions and the hotels image. The 2009 study focused on 4 hotels in the Southern California area.
The results, published by Elsevier Ltd, found that there was:
A significant relationship between uniforms and employee perceptions, of job performance. Significance also existed between employees job satisfation and styles of uniforms.
Their findings were as follows:
Uniforms affect customer perceptions of a hotels image and may affect a hotels long term business profit. Employees felt that their credibility and professionalism increased when they wore formal uniforms, and thus confience increased when interacting with customers.
The recommendations made following the study were as follows:
1. Formal style uniforms should be required by hotels to increase employees job performance.
2. Uniforms should be considered an element affecting employees' satisfaction and job performance, and,
3. Formal style uniforms should be required by hotels that want high end service for their clients.
Whilst the above study focused specifically on the hotel industry, all businesses can draw from the results gained, and the recommendations could apply to any customer facing business.
The right uniform brings with it confidence in both staff an customers, branding, advertising, increased staff performance and sales.