Employee responsibility for uniforms can mean different things. For one, you may have an Employee Uniform Responsibility Form, that states the number of uniforms that have been issued, the employee name, the company, the date, and their department. This document may outline that each employee has to return their uniforms if their employment is terminated, but if items are lost or damaged beyond acceptable wear and tear, then the costs will be deducted from their wages. Another responsibility is often that employees have to treat, handle, and launder their uniforms properly, and that uniforms should typically last a specified period of time. Whatever the uniform responsibilities outlined at your company, here's how to encourage and manage employee uniform responsibilities.
A first step in encouraging and managing employees in regards to their uniform is to make sure that each and every employee knows your uniform policy. Every new starter should have the policy explained, and it's advisable to have quarterly training on the policy - and have training or a meeting each time the policy has been altered or updated. Make sure that employees fully understand what they have to wear each day and what looks are and aren't acceptable. Allow employees to ask questions and make sure that the policies have sunk in fully. Sometimes people can zone out in meetings, so present the information in manageable ways. You may send quick emails each week with policy tips such as, "Remember to wear your name tag on the right-hand side of your body!" Or you may praise employees at random for wearing their uniform correctly, "Congratulations to Wanda in accounting who wins a free coffee for wearing her uniform correctly all week."
If your employees are allowed to take their uniforms home, ensure that they have proper care instructions to make sure the garment lasts an appropriate length of time. You don't want uniforms to become threadbare or discoloured six months in. Make sure employees are laundering their uniforms without using bleach, for example, as bleach can stain uniforms. Some companies take laundering upon themselves. For example, some fast food companies have employees show up to work in their own clothes and provide changing facilities and they pick up a freshly laundered uniform before each shift. Then it is returned and laundered by the company itself. Having the company pick up the laundering tab ensures that the company takes responsibility for uniforms. It also cuts down on the opportunities for items to be washed incorrectly, lost, stolen, or damaged during non-operational activities.
Some companies require that employees pay for part or all of their uniform, but if an employee has taken good care of their uniform and items are still damaged and becoming unsightly, it's a good idea to replace items for them - or at least help with the costs; replacing tatty items will make your employee appreciate you as a company because it shows that you care and notice your employees.
Some employees will hold onto items longer than necessary as a cost-saving measure; however, a good uniform supplier will give an estimate of the lifespan of a garment so you know how long each piece should last when cared for. Make sure you don't try and squeeze an extra six months to a year out of garments that aren't looking their best as it could hurt your company image. If a customer comes to an establishment and employees don't look smart, they may not come back.
Policies should be modelled by management, meaning that everyone in management should always wear their uniform appropriately and correctly. If those in authority fail to follow the rules, they aren't setting good examples for those who work under them and those employees may become discouraged and lacklustre themselves.
If an employee is seen breaking the rules, then management should privately take that employee aside and question if they understand the policy, and, if they do, ask why they are not wearing the correct uniform. Follow through on your uniform policy letter statements for disciplinary action as stated. However, it's a good idea - at least the first few times - to be lenient. It may also be a good idea to have spare uniforms available if an employee simply forgot an item. Encourage openness and instead of having to root out rule breakers, make sure they come to you to explain why they don't have an item so it can be remedied. Companies that provide uniforms before each shift can combat many of these issues, though.
You may have an airtight uniform policy, but if staff are unhappy then a great policy won't do much good. Always encourage staff feedback, especially when you're in the early stages of uniform adoption. Ask staff if they are happy with the uniform, if they'd like anything changed, if it's comfortable, what they'd like to see improved, and more to gauge happiness overall. A staff that's happy with their uniform, finds it comfortable, and feels they look good in their uniform is more likely to wear it without complaint.
Follow these six simple steps to encourage and manage uniform responsibilities for yourself and your employees - and you'll have a happier, healthier staff overall.
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