The Power of Uniform Part 4 of 4: Employee Engagement
Having already covered how to stand out from the crowd, build brand awareness, strengthen brand perception, and drive customer engagement, this fourth and final instalment in our series on ‘The Power of Uniform’ explores how your corporate uniform can boost employee engagement.
An ocean of ink (and trillions of pixels!) have been consumed on the topic of creating a great workplace culture, yet the powerful unifying effect of a good corporate uniform is often overlooked. A landmark 2017 report by talent firm Aon Hewitt with over 5 million respondents found that staff engagement continues to be a huge challenge for employers, with almost 40% of employees reporting themselves to be either ‘actively disengaged’ or ‘passive’ when at work. The more staff an organisation employs, the greater the drag on productivity this figure represents.
Employee Engagement: Why It Matters
Organisations with high levels of employee engagement enjoy multiple practical advantages. When a good team spirit is present, leaders often report significantly fewer personnel issues within the workplace. (In a global study of 50,000 employees, the Corporate Leadership Council concluded that among other benefits, engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their employer than unengaged employees.)
Productivity rates also tend to be higher than average, and it’s easier to fill staff vacancies with the right kind of people due to the high reputation of the employer. Best of all, the positive attitude shines through with each customer or visitor interaction – meaning more positive reviews, referrals, and repeat business.
Those looking to improve employee engagement often focus on fundamentals such as fair leadership, good communication, and a safe and welcoming environment in which to work. Less often discussed is the need to ensure that all employees have the feeling that they belong to something bigger than themselves – an overriding purpose.
“I Feel Like One of the Team”
That elusive ‘esprit de corps’ that is so sought after by organisations seeking to instil a teamwork ethos starts with making each and every employee feel valued in this way. When an employee feels they belong, they will feel the sense of pride and shared loyalty that will lead to greater enthusiasm and engagement at work. A proven way to make employees feel they are part of something bigger is to issue them with suitable, smart, well-fitted uniform.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that employees are more likely to collaborate effectively when wearing the same uniform, perhaps due to this shared commonality. Whether it is looking out for a team member who may need a helping hand, or finding ways to work together to process a task more effectively, there is little doubt that wearing a uniform is a considerable motivating factor in the day-to-day working lives of employees.
Sports teams know all about the powerful effect of uniform. When you have the competitors, the support staff, and the fans all proud to display the brand of their team, you create a sense of shared purpose and loyalty that transcends all other barriers and differences. Individual personalities and priorities become less of a distraction to the overall direction and purpose of the team. In the same way, when wearing company uniform, an employee immediately has a shared identity with all other employees who are wearing that same uniform.
A Sense of Responsibility
When donning uniform, an employee will immediately be aware that they are recognisable both to the public and to other members of their team. The uniform wearer tends to feel an increased sense of responsibility due to this association. We can see parallels of this effect in the military where individual members will feel a lifelong sense of affection for and loyalty to their regiment. It’s also apparent in the long-standing tradition that airline pilots should never be seen to consume alcohol when in uniform – even if they are off duty.
A key finding of the Cornell study ‘The Effect of Employee Uniforms on Employee Satisfaction’ was that uniforms “can direct employees’ behaviour to be more consistent with the goals and standards of behaviour established by the organisation.” The study goes on to observe that “part of the concept of uniforms directing employees’ behaviour comes from the idea that putting on a uniform also means stepping into a role” – a personal feeling that affects how a wearer interacts with those around them, how they respond in challenging scenarios, and how they make decisions.
Another positive effect of employees feeling ‘part of something bigger than themselves’ is an increased confidence in their role. When wearing company uniform, an employee may feel more able to deal with their job requirements – whether due to practical aspects of the uniform itself, or just from the knowledge that if they don’t personally have the experience or knowledge to deal with a certain situation, there will be a team member they can call on who will.
An important point to note here is that a uniform policy that has not been well thought-out or implemented could actually have the opposite effect, by making an employee less able to perform their role. For example, a uniform that is too small or too large could cause employees to feel self-conscious, and therefore less confident. Poorly fitted uniforms could even impede the ability of an employee to do their job efficiently.
For this reason, it is important to work with your staff when implementing a uniform policy, allowing them to have flexibility of choice wherever possible, to allow for individual preferences and changing seasons. An example of this would be providing both ‘beanie’ style and peaked cap style headgear for outdoor staff to use.
The Power of Uniform: In Conclusion
“High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation”
– Charles Kettering
Through each of the four sections in this series on The Power of Uniform, we have seen how a well thought out uniform policy can have far-reaching effects on all aspects of an organisation.
Read the previous articles in the series here:
At WISE Worksafe, we have over four decades of experience in helping organisations implement uniform that has been well received by staff and visitors alike. Keen to start experiencing some of these benefits yourself? Give us a call now on 08456 71 21 41 or email us.
With dedicated account managers and in-house garment branding capability, we can help you through the entire design, selection and supply process. What’s more, we can even set you up with your own personalised online portal - making managing and ordering your chosen uniform quicker and easier than ever before.
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