It doesn’t matter how regularly you update or propose new workwear, there’s always going to be the fear of backlash from your employees when it comes to initiating change. You might have to deal with some employee uniform complaints - but here’s how to answer them.
With this advice you can formulate a uniform policy that not only addresses your employee’s concerns effectively, but also adheres to your company’s core values. By accounting for these 10 common employee uniform complaints within your next workwear order, all of your staff should be happy with their new items.
1. “My Workwear Is Uncomfortable.”
Often the most common complaint put forward by employees (regardless of their job role) is that the supplied employee uniform is uncomfortable or ill-fitting. Poorly fitting employee uniform can cause limitations to on-the-job performance, therefore harming the level of your company’s output.
As departments continue to grow, uniform is often bulk-bought and given how time-exhaustive a company rebrand can be, sizing up each employee is often something that isn’t feasible. Ensure your next line of employee uniform contains adjustable features or is made of a polyester blend to better suit all body types. Also, avoid fitted workwear and pick a workwear provider that can cover additional sizes like, if needed, from XXS to XXXL.
2. “I Can’t Express Myself In The Uniform.”
The idea of conforming to one appearance may be daunting to some employees as it can remove what they see as “freedom”. The common argument is that an employee uniform restricts the ability for an employee to express themselves and can be deemed unflattering by that employee.
A uniform that is considered unflattering can severely hinder employee confidence and productivity, as communication may potentially deteriorate in the fear of being judged by clients, customers or colleagues alike. Allow slight flexibility with your uniform policy which creates both a happy yet professional harmony, whether that means allowing female employees to switch skirts for trousers and adding complimentary accessories, or male employees switching trousers for shorts during summer or being able to choose their own company coloured tie.
3. “The Workwear Doesn’t Respect My Cultural Background And Beliefs”
Whilst ensuring your company’s image is the best it can be, you can only be as good as your employees perform. A failure to recognise those employees with particular religious and ethnicity concerns within your workwear can really transmit a lack of thought and will actually put the company in breach of The Equality Act 2010.
On a personal level, it also can lead to feelings of guilt on the employee’s part (if you force them to choose between practising their faith or their adhering to the rules at work).
Similarly to the previous point, ensure there is flexibility with your uniform policy and embrace the diversity of your workforce. It can reflect positively on the company’s brand by being seen as an equal opportunities employer purely through your workwear policy. Attract better job applicants in the future without, as diverse applicants will come to you.
4. “I Have An Insufficient Supply Of Workwear.”
Typically, a reliable workwear supplier can offer lower unit costs when ordering higher quantities, therefore getting better value for your money than when ordering sporadically on an as and when basis. Doing this will mean you can issue employees with a substantial enough amount of uniform to rotate between wearing, dirty, and washing and drying at any given time.
Tip: If you don’t charge for your workwear, ensure you retain it when employees leave your business. Reduce costs of ordering new workwear by reusing workwear (and covering any sudden replacement needs) for added value for money.
5. “I Feel The Workwear Sends The Wrong Message.”
This often occurs when businesses haven’t rotated their workwear enough to find out what works for their business. However, they are also susceptible to this when a company rebrand goes arguably wrong.
The complaint that “it sends the wrong message” is common and can be argued as subjective. But many businesses with low workwear budgets possess a “one uniform suits all” mentality (to promote equality), but, with company growth, there may come a time to override this as new departments/roles are introduced. Ideally, a Sales Representative should be in business workwear as opposed to the printed polo shirts your logistics team are wearing, not only to represent the company’s image, but to achieve their targets also.
Ensure you involve the employees in the decision process when kitting out a new department as not only does it have to reflect the company’s core values, but also the person who’s wearing it too. For example, a Sales Role wearing a printed polo shirt may transpire a laid-back office approach, which may not be too successful in a client pitch who has time-sensitive deadlines to deliver.
In short, order purpose-orientated workwear as opposed to company-orientated workwear to maximise the benefits.
6. “The Workwear Is Outdated.”
As time progresses, workwear can often fall down in priority as focus shifts towards quarterly targets and other day-to-day areas of the company. What’s difficult to monitor is employee happiness as trends shift and competitors change their workwear, often leaving employees feeling out-of-place either when meeting customers or even on their way to work.
Monitor your competitors and wider market closely when it comes to workwear, just like you would with other marketing efforts. Your workwear forms a large part of your branding so stay ahead of the curve, not behind it. As a result, your employees will be proud to show off your brand and will be more confident in doing so.
7. “My Workwear Is Expensive To Maintain.”
The general theme with most companies is to provide the best workwear possible, but often that isn’t in their employee’s best interests.
By providing your employees with top quality uniform such as silk neck scarves for female office staff or light coloured leather boots for those working outdoors or in the transport department, you run the risk of costing both the company and your employees more.
The argument often arises where employees are unable to regularly dry-clean/iron/press some uniform items on a daily basis to meet with a company’s strict uniform guidelines.
Avoid causing unnecessary stress by cutting into your employee’s personal time with impractical workwear, ensure what you offer is what’s needed to look presentable but do the job in the hours specified.
Alternatively, if you want to ease employees over monetary concerns whilst maintaining your policy, emphasise the fact that most workers are eligible to claim back tax on washing uniform.
But, in short, think practical, not luxurious.
8. “My Workwear Is Poor Quality.”
On the flip side of the previous point, as more companies attempt to source workwear on a limited budget, it can lead to poor, short-use workwear. Often tying in with the complaints regarding workwear being “uncomfortable”, but more importantly, it can actually contribute to employee’s not being able to perform their job effectively.
One cause is often sourcing cheap workwear with low quality stitching that can lead to tears and breakages after minimal wear. Ensure you factor this in when putting together your next workwear order and determining which supplier is best for you. By proposing an increased budget on your initial workwear, you can live with the confidence that the workwear is going to last longer and give your company the best return on investment. Avoid spending the minimum as, more likely than not, it leads to spending more in the long run.
9. “Other People Don’t Wear A Uniform.”
Often argued either in relation to direct competitors or other roles within the company internally, is the fact that some individuals have differing flexibility when it comes to uniform and the complaint is often put forward as inequality or favouritism.
A hard complaint to sway, but it’s important to reiterate that the workwear is assigned to the person who requires it to effectively perform their job rather than just through a boss’ wishes. By possessing a uniform it can be commonly argued that the company takes great pride in actively promoting who works for them. And there are lots of other benefits.
And Last But Not Least...
10. “I Don’t Want To Wear A Uniform.”
A stubborn complaint but it’s one of the most frequent you’ll have to tackle. Employees often fear the introduction of change.
It’s important to highlight the benefits of the change whilst understanding their viewpoint, highlighting benefits such as, by embracing the change, we can improve team unity as we work towards a common aim. Emphasise that it’s more than just an “employee uniform” but it’s part of communicating a message, not only to advertise, but also to show that they are part of something much bigger than their everyday duties.
Remember, You Can’t Please Everyone.
As hard as it is to accept, it is a fact that complaints will always end up being lodged. However, by doing appropriate risk analysis in regards to employee concerns and happiness, you can successfully limit the amount you receive and ease the transition along as smoothly as possible.
Stay organised and conduct reasonable research into what your employees want from their workwear and what your budget is. In doing so, you’ll ensure that you get the best return from your investment and that there isn’t a frequent need for placing workwear orders.