I recently read that over 50% of Australian businesses have a company uniform that employees must wear. The main reason for businesses implementing a company uniform is to boost professionalism. However, from what I recently saw on a plane from Sydney to Brisbane employers may need to reconsider this!
I was one of the first to get on the plane and I as I sat there waiting for my fellow passengers to board I was astounded by the presentation of many people who shuffled past. I know we are all just returning from holidays and probably finding it hard to get out of our beach attire but when we are back at work we need to present appropriately. Particularly when we are walking around with our employers brand all over us.
After seeing five people in a row, from different companies, board the plane in their company uniform looking like they just fell out of bed (and this was 3pm in the afternoon) I thought to myself, thank goodness my brand is not being worn by these people.
These employees were actually making their company look bad—that is assuming they are the employees and not the owners, which is a whole other issue! They looked shabby, unprofessional and ineffective. I am sure that is not the case but I certainly would not be contacting any of these companies in a hurry for a quote. They just didn’t look like they had it together!
This was not the company logo or branding but the person wearing it, which when on a company uniform is the same thing! Isn’t one of the key benefits of a company uniform, especially on sales people, is they are a walking billboard to win new customers?
So employers be warned, don’t assume that because you have given your staff a nice clean uniform that they will now present professionally.
You still need to set the expectations around what it means to be wearing the company brand everyday. To the five people I saw, here is what I would say to them:
- 1. If you have a habit of spilling your lunch on your shirt please carry a spare, especially if you are outside of the office—like in an airport where you see lots of people!
- 2. Shirts that are made to be tucked in, need to be tucked in.
- 3. Please wear appropriate pants or skirts with the company shirt. Track pants with a company shirt when you are not a personal trainer is not appropriate!
- 4. Professional presentation is not just putting on the company shirt, it also encompasses brushed hair and clean shoes.
- 5. Do not rant on the phone, bitch with your workmate, or generally look grumpy and unhappy in a company’s branded shirt! People are looking at you!
- It might be time to update the company uniform policy and conduct some training to ensure that your branded uniform is not actually damaging your brand!
Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder of national HR consulting firm wattsnext Sue-Ellen and her team of professionals are enablers of business growth through relevant HR for the modern world.