“ My employees are just tired of the same old work uniforms. They’re ready for something new and fresh, but our company can’t make such a big change to it’s overall brand strategy. We’ve even polled the communities we serve for their feedback. It seems that our brand doesn’t resonate with our customers like it used to. Change can be tough, but do we need to review our uniform program as a way to give our brand a shot in the arm? “
While this might seem like a ridiculous example, it’s one that both prospective clients and existing customers share. When companies feel like they’ve hit a wall, they’ll pull out all the stops to get back on track. Although it might seem like a minor factor, the work uniform is an easy place to start to get back on a path to success.
In previous articles, we’ve talked about what a uniform program is and how companies use it. In one article, we talked about how you can tell if a uniform program isn’t a good fit for your company. In another article, we talked about ways you can identify the right apparel for your uniform program.
But what if you’re currently in a uniform program? If you already put your employees in company branded work uniforms, there are things in these articles that aren’t new to you. You know a uniform program is a fit for your company. You know the right apparel for your employees to be in so they can get their jobs done.
One of the biggest questions we hear from current clients is that they’re unsure as to when they should give their uniform program a tune-up. They’ve had their employees in a work uniforms for any number of years and it hasn’t changed. Their team is still performing the same tasks in their job, but the work uniforms are getting “tired.”
In this post, we’ll examine three signs that it might be time to overhaul your uniform program. These signs should not be the only signs to look for. There may be others that tell you when to consider other options for your work uniform. But for now, we’ll dig deeper into these three. Let’s begin with what might be the most popular sign….
Your employees want new options for their work uniforms
I’ll call this the most popular sign because employees ALWAYS want to wear something other than the uniform the company has established for them. As it is with individuals, we have varying wants and needs. And one of the most obvious areas to put our individuality on display is with the clothes we wear.
Unfortunately for some employees, the clothing they wear at work isn’t made for individuality. Companies have valid reasons for requiring their employees to wear a work uniform while doing their job. Some of these reasons might include:
- The work uniform enhances the safety of the employee while on the job
- The work uniform makes the employee identifiable when in public
- The work uniform projects the brand of the company
Because work uniforms can serve these purposes does not mean that they need to be anything but ideal for their wearer. While at work, your employees want to be comfortable. They want to feel good in their uniform because the truth is, they spend as much time in their uniform as they do out of it.
When employees start asking, even demanding, to overhaul the uniform program (a.k.a. Dress code) it presents a great opportunity to strengthen your company culture. By having an open discussion about what employees can and cannot wear to work, you’re giving your team a bigger voice. They feel empowered by contributing to the conversation about what they wear to work. While you’ll want to have established guidelines on what is acceptable to wear and what is not, you’ll notice that your team may be happier while working for you if they can influence what they get to wear.
Your company is refreshing it’s entire brand
This is another time when it makes sense to overhaul your work uniforms. When your company is considering revamping its entire brand, you should include your work uniforms.
A big reason a company might refresh its brand is because growth dictates that the business serve new markets or communities. This might mean that messaging that used to resonate within a particular community now needs to change to involve a different geographical community. Calling yourself Manhattan Plumbing won’t work that well if you want to start serving the Queens and Bronx markets.
Because growth forced your brand into new markets and a change of your brand’s name is inevitable, it’s time to consider overhauling your uniform as well. While you’ll be performing the same job functions as before, redesigning the embroidered logo on your uniform will help establish trust in the new communities you serve. You should also consider changing your uniform colors. Something more neutral may speak to a broader audience.
Overhauling your company’s uniform during this time is critical for you to remain successful. It will allow you to continue to serve your customers well in new neighborhoods. This way you can build on the growth that allowed you to expand in the first place.
Work uniforms no longer meets the requirements of the job
The first thing that comes to mind when a uniform doesn’t meet the requirements of the duties performed while working is safety. In certain industries, the topic of safety is the only concern for a company and their employees. Companies that do work in industries like natural gas processing, oil & petrochemical refining and electric generation & distribution know that if their team isn’t in the right uniform, it’s a matter of life or death.
But what does it look like when a uniform no longer meets the standards necessary to wear while doing the work? Here are a few examples.
The first is an obvious one, especially if you’re familiar with flame resistant (FR) clothing. If you’re not, check out a previous article of ours for a basic overview of FR fibers and fabrics to get yourself started. FR clothing makes up the primary uniform worn in the industries we mentioned before. This means that in order for an employee in these industries to stay safe, their FR clothing needs to meet certain criteria.
One of the easiest ways to remain compliant is to ensure that your FR garments are of sound quality. Garments that are visibly worn are no longer flame resistant and are hazardous to the wearer. Classifying a garment in this manner means that:
- It has holes from tearing or ripping
- The fabric is noticeably worn and thin and will tear or rip at any moment
- The fabric has large spots of dirt (grease, oil, etc.) that will degrade or destroy the flame resistant properties of the garment.
Once you have a garment with these noticeable defects, the garment has reached its shelf life. These are primary signs that it’s time to at least order new uniforms for your employees. But if you’re entertaining overhauling your uniform program as a whole, there’s no better time than now to do it.
As mentioned before, these signs should not be the only times you should consider overhauling your uniform program. One thought is to rebrand your company every 7-10 years, so you’ll want to consider a uniform overhaul at some point. This way, your company can stay fresh within its market and top of mind with potential customers.
There are frequent updates made within the uniform industry to help with a smooth transition of your uniform program. Uniforms today aren’t represented the way they were decades ago. Gone are the days where all employees in uniform wear the same “mechanic shirt”. Your team can look professional and uniform, all while communicating a strong and positive message to the market you serve.