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Establishing a Uniform Policy

Question:

What are the pros and cons I should consider before establishing a uniform policy?

Answer:

Today, millions of employees wear corporate uniforms in the workplace.  Whether it is to clearly exhibit a company logo, make it easier for customers to identify employees, or to develop a sense of unity among the staff, they have become increasingly prevalent in the workplace.  Of course there are pros and cons to requiring this in the workplace and when considering implementing such a policy.  Before you leap, consider these pros and cons.

Pros:

• Gets the employee into a professional mindset before starting his or her shift, thus improving employee performance. 

• Employees are able to be easily identified by customers and other staff members.  Some workplaces have different uniforms for the different levels of staff members making it easier to distinguish between those with specific responsibilities (managers, trainees, etc).

• Advertising: Uniforms give companies a chance to market their brand on clothing that employees wear; especially if the job requires employees to go out in public.   

• Makes the employees feel like they are a part of a team which promotes good workplace morale. 

Cons:

• Employee opposition: Some employees may not approve of the uniforms.  This could affect job performance if he or she is not comfortable in the uniform.   

• Expensive: The cost of supplying your employees can get pricey, especially if different uniforms are required for different seasons and asking employees to pay for them can be an employment deterrent.

• Advertising:  In direct opposition to this being a “pro”, employees wearing uniform outside of business hours displaying poor behavior is not good advertising to have.

Whatever way you go, uniforms have pros and cons.  Consider the pros and the cons before implementation.  You may wish to offer a ‘compromise’.  Consider a uniform that gives employees a chance to express their individuality, while still having a standard.  For example, Target allows employees to wear their choice of an appropriate solid red top with khakis.  This shows that the company appreciates the individual, while still maintaining a collective identity for its employees. 

Having easy to read and understand policies and procedures can help alleviate a lot of problems in the workplace. Not only do they set the stage for what is deemed inappropriate, they can also provide guidelines for what is considered acceptable, and even expected, behavior. strategic HR inc. receives numerous requests to review and rewrite employee handbooks on a regular basis, especially with the number of recent federal guideline changes. If you haven’t updated your handbook in the last few years, now may be a good time. For more information on how we can help you with Employee Relations and employee handbooks, please visit our Employee Relations page.