Should You Make Uniforms for Your Employees?

Providing employees with shirts or uniforms can be a superb way to promote teamwork and professionalism. With poor implementation, however, uniforms can result in worse job performance and distractions. Whether or not you provide your employees with apparel depends on the situation, occupation and staff, making weighing the pros and cons of uniforms a worthwhile endeavor for business owners.

Pros

  • Extra Advertising: A quality uniform can serve as additional advertising, especially if employees wear it outside of work. A shirt with the business's name, website, slogan and some indication of its niche can pique the interest of those passing the employee wearing the shirt. Plus, it shows to others that employees are proud to wear their company's uniform outside of work, suggesting a strong and unified company culture.

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  • Feeling of Unity: Employees wearing a similar uniform will likely feel more part of a team, with the uniforms fostering a sense of pride and community among those wearing them. Victoria Seitz, a marketing professor from San Bernardino, California, explains that uniforms can help employees become entwined with their company, increasing employee loyalty.
  • Exuding Professionalism: Uniforms can exude professionalism by providing consumers with a better experience. When in a store, consumers will be better able to spot employees if they're in need of help. Assorted employees with unrelated clothing can come across as lazy on behalf of the business, while a unified uniform effort comes across as organized and professional.

Cons

  • Potentially Poor Clothing Quality: There are a variety of services online and offline that promise to provide quality shirts at a low cost. Unfortunately, they may use material that’s cheap, with the tendency for the uniform letters or logos to break down and fall off the shirt. As a result, it’s recommended to use a quality apparel provider to produce high-quality, American-made shirts. Their durability will make the potential extra cost well worth it.
  • Distractions and Lower Performance: Some jobs aren't suited for uniforms. For example, a food server required to wear a lengthy blouse or fancy attire may come in contact with food or drinks, causing sanitary issues and making a mess. When providing uniforms, ensure they do not interfere with working in any way. A uniform should not be a headache to wear. It's possible to provide a relevant, comfortable uniform with its included benefits.
  • Feelings of Over-Conformity: If a business fosters independent thought, such as a startup, then the concept of a uniform may feel contradictory to employees. If the prospect of a uniform clashes with company culture like this, it may be better to stick with individual attire, in fear of losing employee loyalty due to an unclear company culture. Whereas a uniform may work excellent in businesses with frequent foot traffic, office buildings with little visitation from anyone outside the company likely won't need a uniform. Instead, give them “fun” shirts that they can wear – or not wear – whenever they like.

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Uniforms and shirts have their share of pros and cons in business, though generally, their appropriateness varies depending on the business's niche, company culture and need for additional advertising. Give these factors some though before to committing to them.

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