Retail employees were once required to adhere to strict uniform policies, which reflected the company image and branding. Nowadays, however, companies have taken a more relaxed attitude towards corporate uniforms. Employers should want their staff to feel relaxed and comfortable at work, but taking this too far can negatively affect brand image and consumer loyalty. Here, we’re taking an in-depth look at casual vs traditional workplace styles to evaluate which is best for your business.
Connecting with customers
With reports suggesting that the high-street is experiencing a dramatic decline, stores are trying to become more innovative to improve customer and staff retention. Uniforms have recently become a big focus for many businesses. To connect with customers on a personal level, more organisations are allowing employees to ‘dress-down’, to encourage uniqueness and to show shoppers that they’re able to adapt with the times.
If you enjoy a coffee on your daily commute to work, you might have noticed that Starbucks have recently changes their uniform requirements. Previously, baristas would wear buttoned-up black or white shirts with name badges and black or khaki pants, accompanied with their signature green apron. But now, rules have become lax surrounding what they’re allowed to wear beneath the apron.
Starbucks staff now have the opportunity to express themselves through their workwear in a way that traditional uniforms never allowed. The Starbucks employee lookbook states that baristas can wear black, white, grey, navy and brown shirts as a solid or for a subdued, small-print, low-contrast pattern. However, sweatshirts, hooded shirts, cap-sleeve and short-sleeve V-neck or T-necks are forbidden. Although you may remember some baristas wearing caps with a Starbucks logo, their options have now varied too, with flat caps, trilby hats and beanies becoming an option. Employees are also allowed to wear scarves, but they must be tucked behind their apron!
Your staff won’t fully understand what materials and styles work well for different jobs. If your staff decide to wear a tight material, this could prevent them from reaching up to a shelf for example — the limitations an item of clothing has on their abilities will be the last thing on their mind.
Brands that have adopted the casual-clothing idea are seemingly allowing their staff to wear their own clothes that fit specific style/colour requirements at work, which could have a negative impact on their productivity, duties and other colleagues.
This doesn’t mean that staff shouldn’t be allowed to dress more comfortably or causally, there are just better ways to implement these rules. With technology and design opportunities advancing at a rapid rate, uniform providers are now able to facilitate any requirements when it comes to corporate workwear — whether you opt for professional or a more relaxed style of attire. By opting for a professional service, you’ll won’t have to worry about design regulations that are required for your working environment that have been set out by governing bodies; as the responsibility will fall with them. Not only this, they’ll likely organise a consultation with your business to fully understand the requirements of the job and how the uniform needs to be designed to meet them.
Making a long-term investment
Rather than looking at uniforms as an additional expense, businesses should think of them as a long-term investment. Not only will uniforms allow you to stay within workwear regulations, it will also reduce the time you spend monitoring clothing if staff do choose to wear their own styles for work.
Although employees might enjoy the idea of wearing casual clothing to work, it could raise problems when you consider other expenses and factors. These could include rent, groceries as well as general clothing. If they have the responsibility to also purchase suitable workwear, this will be another deducting factor that comes out of their wage. Having a set uniform for your business would help create a strong brand image and unify your employees.