Workplace uniforms are often a topic of debate amongst employees across all sectors. Over time, employees of varying industries have kitted themselves out with what their employers think is both practical for more industrious-based jobs and smart in client-facing jobs.
Many retail uniforms are subject to rules and changes, but the impact on productivity is usually a divisive discussion. With the help of Jermyn Street Design, high quality uniform suppliers, we will assess whether work attire does have any measurable impact on daily staff productivity.
Changes in uniforms
Badges were once the sole uniform worn by workers, and they functioned to indicate the type of work which the employee was responsible for. Those delivering important messages or items would typically wear a badge with the emblem of the royalty which they served.
The badges were signifiers of authority and importance, and they also made a sense of inclusion visible to others. Though this was common centuries ago, the durability of them wasn’t up to the standards that they are today, so many of them did not survive. However, these badges were the start of the uniform tradition that would go onto become mainstream.
Family insignias’ later determined the exact nature of the uniform worn by a worker, as they often featured on liveries at later points in history. Typically, this type of uniform was popular throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and many retail uniforms today still have similarities where brand logos are concerned.
Positivity and links to attire
The freedom associated with choosing your own work clothing is often regarded highly by employees, but uniforms can distil a sense of belonging amongst colleagues. It reminds them that they’re part of a team too, proudly representing the brand. Deploying a uniform could also harness team spirit, creating unity and fostering that feeling of belonging.
Not everyone’s finances can cover a weekly wardrobe refresh, so a uniform can take the stress out of getting dressed while also affirming a work mindset. Scientific research has also shown that those in formal clothes tend to perform better in situations than those in casual clothes, although this does not account for all industries. But opposing research has also found that 61% of employees are more productive at work when the dress code is relaxed.
There is psychology rooted in the requirement of a suit for many office roles. In a study by Social Psychological and Personality Science, subjects were asked to dress in either casual, everyday clothing or formal business dress, before going on to take part in cognitive tests. It was found that those in business dress showed an increase of abstract thinking when compared to those who remained casual — the findings of the experiment suggest the effects are related to feelings of power and authority, in turn granting confidence.
Do dress codes suit modern businesses?
Evidence has been found to support both sides of the uniform vs no uniform divide. As a generalisation, dress codes in non-industry roles are approached differently by the individual; some people like the creativity and flexibility of not having a dress code enforced at their workplace, but others like dressing up to feel as though they are in a more formal working environment.
Dressing the same every day eliminates any lengthy decision making processes. Steve Jobs was known for his black turtleneck jumper, jeans and New Balance trainers, and Mark Zuckerberg for his daily grey t-shirt, with their arguments stating that it lowers their decision-making process and allows for more brainpower on their day-to-day roles.
In hotels, leisure parks and airlines, uniforms are usually commonplace as they help customers to recognise those in authority. being the main examples. But if smaller businesses were to adopt a ‘wear what makes you comfortable’ dress code, where health and safety isn’t concerned, this would perhaps encourage a more relaxed environment in the workplace.