Uniforms provide a lot of information at a glance. When you see a doctor in scrubs or an officer in their dress blues, you immediately have a sense of what they do, whom they work for and the kind of interactions they have with people. Putting your employees in custom work uniforms makes it possible to offer the same at-a-glance info—and much more.
This new edition of our Blue Papers® discusses the many benefits of employee uniforms. We also share the things you might want to consider as you choose custom company shirts and apparel.
Benefits of custom workwear
By supplying employees with uniforms, you can provide the guidelines they seek while eliminating the possibility of inappropriate workwear. Uniforms also provide many other benefits to both employees and organizations.
Professional image and easy identification
A company uniform gives people a sense of your organization, whether it’s casual, professional or something in-between. Uniforms also create an overall professional appearance and make it possible, at a glance, for a customer to know who to ask when looking for assistance, whether they’re in your retail store or visiting one of your offices.
There are other bottom-line benefits as well. Studies have shown that being able to easily identify staff can improve customer opinion of a company. What’s more, in retail, customers are statistically more likely to buy from an employee in uniform.
A unique form of advertising
Over time, customers will come to associate colors and a particular mode of dress with your business. When your employees are making deliveries, suddenly they aren’t just another worker—they’re a walking billboard for your brand.
Luxury vinyl tile company Urban Surfaces, Inc. in Corona, Calif., discovered that a new uniform shirt not only made employees more visible when making deliveries, they solved a variety of other challenges as well.
“We were tired of using uniform services,” said HR Assistant Amy Ferraro. “The uniforms were scratchy and uncomfortable, and they weren’t being well maintained.”
They found the right combination of elements, including their exact brand coloring, with the Snag Proof Color Accent Polo. “It was the perfect green, they don’t wrinkle and our workers can launder them at home,” Ferraro said. “And we don’t have to worry about the laundry service destroying them.”
Protect employees and their clothing
For some jobs, stains just come with the territory. Providing custom work uniforms means employees don’t have to worry that their workday is going to cut into their clothing budget. And for jobs that involve working with heavy equipment, uniforms ensure every employee is wearing clothing that can’t easily get caught in machines.
Urban Surfaces found that in addition to being easy to maintain and highly visible on deliveries, their new uniforms have also had an unexpected safety benefit. “Because the shirts are highly visible, we don’t have to worry about safety vests in the warehouse, which keeps staff more comfortable,” Ferraro said.
Bring equality to first impressions
While we may say you can’t judge a book by its cover, the reality is that people make determinations about those they encounter in the blink of an eye. In about 0.1 second, to be exact.
Uniforms can improve first impressions by removing socioeconomic judgments that can happen when a staff member’s clothing isn’t up to par. Placing everyone in the same uniform helps customers, staff and management to judge employees based on their work, not what they’re wearing.
Some employees feel uniforms remove choice and individuality, but the Packaging Corporation of America in Miami, Fla., found a way to have the best of both worlds. When a new hourly staff member starts, they’re given six Contender Athletic T-Shirts in multiple colors to wear.
These custom company shirts allow staff members to show off their personal style. “We give them a variety of colors,” Quality Manager Crystal Moore said. “They can choose what they want to wear when they wear it.”
Employee options increase every October and November, when employees are allowed to pick their next six shirts. “They come to my office and choose long sleeves, short sleeves and the colors they want,” Moore said.
How to select custom company shirts
While choosing a perfect custom work uniform might seem like a simple task, a surprising number of things have to be considered to find uniforms that look good, feel comfortable and make your brand stand out.
Choose colors that complement
Before selecting uniform colors, remember the many ways colors can be used:
- A branded color: Like UPS® Brown, which is trademarked, an easily recognizable brand color creates a great advertising opportunity.
- A complementary color: If you prefer your logo to stand out, pick a complementary colored shirt to make it more eye catching.
- Differentiate by role: Want every work group to stand out in a crowd? Choose one color for staff and another for managers, or pick colors that work well for a specific position, like dark colors for hiding stains.
Although the Packaging Corporation of America allows staff members to select their own shirt colors, they offer one choice with an added benefit. “We also have neon colors,” Crystal Moore said. “If the staff chooses to wear neon colored shirts, they don’t have to wear safety vests. Since we’re located in Miami, it can make the day less warm.”
Select the proper fabrics for the work being performed
A person who works in an office, one who works outdoors and another who waits tables all want to be comfortable—but they also have different fabric needs. People in an outdoor environment will want a snag-stopping fabric like the one found in a Blue Generation® Snag Resistant Wicking Polo. Employees in a hot warehouse will appreciate a wider range of motion and the moisture-wicking properties in the Voltage Tri-Blend Wicking T-Shirt. And for those who work in an environment with food, drinks or things that stain, a custom company shirt like the Avesta Stain Resistant Short Sleeve Twill Shirt will keep them looking clean and professional after each wash.
Selecting the best kind of fabric for the job at hand will help protect your uniform investment.
Match the dress code to your customers
Another consideration when choosing the proper look for your employees is that their appearance may need to vary depending on your customers. A sales representative on the road may be meeting with a CEO of a major corporation on a Monday and be talking to a foreman on a factory floor on Tuesday—choosing clothing to match those situations can help the meetings run more smoothly.
Selecting a button-down shirt for the former and a polo for the latter allows your employees to better relate to your customers, boosting those all-important connections that lead to sales.
Think outside the polo
While the classic polo or button-down is always going to be fashionable, uniforms can also reflect modern styles. A few modern trends that have become uniform staples include:
- Checks and chinos
- Denim on denim
- Statement pieces, like a seasonal shirt or a hat, that rotate in and out during special events
Finally, when ordering uniforms for the first time, request samples to make certain they’re the right fit—literally and figuratively. Getting samples lets you determine how accurately the apparel is sized or if the colors make your brand pop.
Uniforms make you—and your staff—look good
Just like your logo, website and social media platforms, custom work uniforms bring visibility to your brand. The next time you’re looking for company apparel, use these tips to find the right fit.