A staff uniform holds a number of advantages for your business, your staff and your customers.
Once your school days were over, you might have sworn you’d never wear a uniform again. However, a business uniform can be a timesaver for employees and customers, as well as a branding tool for the business.
According to Jonathan Ray, of Ray Uniforms in Melbourne, “Whether it be for a small business or large multinational, a well-designed and presented uniform provides a sense of unity and solidarity among employees and strengthens the image and brand of a business. Staff members are one of the most important investments within a business, so their sense of importance and belonging are crucial. A uniform can help strengthen these areas.”
Sharon Knight from Australia Post retail outlet management agrees. “It creates a feeling of unity – even our managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour ordered a suit and name badge.”
A uniform simplifies the pre-work prep for employees and eliminates the need for a separate work wardrobe for many workers. “It can reduce the fashion catwalks within offices that can at times divide staff,” says Ray, adding that it can also help employers avoid awkward conversations about what counts as appropriate work attire. “A uniform can establish a specific standard of attire to ensure all staff meet this standard,” says Knight.
From the customer perspective, a uniform makes it easier to
recognise staff, so people can feel confident asking for assistance.
“We find that this is especially important for delivery staff, since they are coming to your home or business premises,” says Stephen Warburton, Manager Policy and Equipment – Delivery Strategy at Australia Post.
A uniform not only creates a more professional impression for
small businesses, it may also give the appearance that the
company is bigger and more established, adding to your credibility.
There’s a broad selection of garments available to businesses,
making it relatively simple to find outfits that fit the impression you wish to project. “Restaurants and cafes are certainly leaning towards more traditional styles, but with a more casual approach,” says Ray.
He explains that corporate suiting will always closely follow particular fashion trends. “The basic Australia Post retail wardrobe is relaunched every five or six years, with annual refreshes and additions. These might include subtle changes in blouses (new prints or patterns), or a new tie,” says Knight.
When choosing a uniform, Ray says there are a number of elements that business owners need to consider. “Business owners need to decide on their corporate colours, select appropriate garments for their particular industry and staff roles, and incorporate their business logo and branding,” he says. “It’s also important to choose durable fabrics that will give you good wear, since uniforms are going to be worn on every work day and laundered regularly.” A professional uniform supplier will be happy to advise you on choices that are popular for your industry.
For staff working outdoors or in factories, uniforms and safety equipment may need to comply with Australian standards. “For example, garments for employees working outdoors [such as posties] must offer an SPF50+, so thicker fabrics have to be used,” explains Warburton. “This means designs have to balance compliance with staff comfort, especially in hotter areas such as Darwin. Uniforms for delivery staff also incorporate branded safety equipment, such as high-visibility vests, helmets, boots, wet-weather gear and even sunglasses.”
The cost of garments varies according to the item, fabric choice, branding and quantity you want to order. Manufacturers usually stipulate minimum order quantities, often starting at 20 items (within that quantity, different sizes can be ordered).
If you have a uniform policy and employees are required to wear a distinctive work uniform, the cost of these items, protective work-wear and laundry of these items is likely to be tax deductible for employees. However, no tax deductions apply if you simply ask staff to wear black trousers and white shirts of their own choosing.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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