The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) revealed last month that they were looking at new uniforms for paratroopers, air defense, and intelligence. The IDF will be testing a variety of uniforms throughout the month of July before deciding on a final choice. Meanwhile, public safety officers at Coastal Carolina University just received new uniforms that improve both appearance and safety. Even Delta Airlines recently unveiled new uniforms for its in-flight crew.
Why all the talk of new uniforms? In a nutshell, it’s because employers are coming to the conclusion that uniforms are about more than just style. The military and first responders have always understood the functional nature of uniforms, but that hasn’t been the case in the private sector. Things are changing though. More companies are coming to understand that work uniforms are about more than just style.
Comfort Is Critical
Alsco, a nationwide company credited for inventing the concept of uniform rentals back in the 1800s, says that comfort is a critical component of workwear uniforms employers often fail to consider. This is a mistake as comfort is critical to worker performance. An uncomfortable employee is not likely to work at peak throughout the day.
It should be noted that comfort is both physical and psychological. The physical aspect should be obvious. Uniforms should fit well without being too tight or too loose. They should be made of breathable fabric and be cut in such a way as to not inhibit movement or productivity. As for psychological, employees forced to wear uniforms they are ashamed of are less likely to present a positive, confident image.
Uniforms should make employees feel proud about wearing them. A uniform should also encourage employees to feel proud of the company they work for. Neither is going to happen if a company’s uniform choice embarrasses employees.
Functionality Affects Performance
Employers are gradually coming to an understanding that uniform functionality affects employee performance. A good way to illustrate this is to talk about the IDF and Coastal Carolina University. In both cases, decision-makers are looking at everything from the number of pockets to pocket placement. They have to because lives may depend on it.
Uniforms for other employers may not be as critical to the protection of life and limb. But still, functionality should never be ignored. Employees need uniforms that help production rather than inhibiting it. After all, the professional image their uniforms are intended to project will be of little value if they cannot do their jobs efficiently.
Necessity and Daily Wear
Finally is the concept of necessity and daily wear. In some cases, an employer may come up with a uniform accessory that is not a necessity. It is added only for style. As long as that accessory does not inhibit performance, it is not a big deal. But you can count on employees ditching any unnecessary accessories that get in the way of doing their jobs.
Firefighters provide a good illustration for this concept. A firefighter’s full-dress uniform looks extremely sharp, but it includes a lot of accessories that are impractical in the field. None of those accessories are worn by firefighters attacking a huge blaze in the middle of the night. What’s not necessary to get the job done is set aside when it comes time to get to work.
Work uniforms are about more than just style. At the end of the day, they are also about enhancing employee safety and improving productivity. The employer unable to see that is one that will never get the most out of employee uniforms.