So you implemented a staff uniform policy a little while ago and are considering updating it. You want to make sure your employees look their best and feel their best when they're at work but you've either outgrown your policy or your dress code just doesn't sit right. So, whether it's due to employee complaints or your attitude has changed, here's how to do refresh your policy in eight easy steps.
These steps are:
- Consider Past Feedback
- Ask For Employee Suggestions
- What Should Be Included
- Roll Out The Updates To Staff
- Give Time For Feedback
- Implement Changes
- Rinse and Repeat
If you're looking to refresh your uniform policy because you've been getting a lot of complaints then that's a good place to start when thinking about how to update the policy. Consider all the feedback you've received from both employees and the directors and work out if any of the feedback is constructive and could be used to better the policy.
Go through these four steps before canvassing staff for more feedback:
- Collate all the feedback you've received, positive and negative, over the past few months.
- Look for trends and themes in what people are saying to create groups based on things like: Consequences, Options Available, Different Treatment.
- Put the feedback comments together into the groups.
- Place these against your existing policy to start finding the parts which need changing.
Complaints such as 'the consequences are too severe for forgetting an item of uniform' or 'workers in X department don't wear correct uniform but aren't penalised and our department is' are really helpful pieces of feedback which can be used to improve the policy.
Now it's time to get fresh feedback.
Even if you've received lots of helpful feedback which you already know you can implement as changes, it's really beneficial asking employees what they think anyway. Any chance you're given to please staff should be taken with both hands and asking for their opinions is bound to make them feel valued.
You could send out a survey, ask employees to email you with their thoughts, or even have a suggestion box. Just make sure you set a deadline for suggestions which staff know about so that they all know when the cut-off point is to have their voice heard.
If you need to motivate staff to take part, start by communicating why you're changing the policy and how it's important that they take this chance to shape their time at work. The importance will be highlighted when it's properly communicated and staff are given some dedicated time to send their feedback.
And offering a little prize for the most popular suggestion or piece of feedback (as voted for by staff), or even for a random winner, will help get the ball rolling.
Next, you can take a look at your policy and check whether everything that's suppose to be included actually is. If something is missing, you'll be able to add the section in now. When it comes to the policy itself, these are the sections it should include:
Introduction - To Cover The "why"
In the introduction, you'll want to cite reasons why you think a uniform policy is needed and how it will benefit the employees. This will establish the context when future employees join the company and the policy is new to them. It'd be good to include how it will resolve some complaints that you've received from staff and actually say what those complaints were.
What employees are expected to wear And What The Company Provides
This section should let employees know what the company expects of them when it comes to uniforms. What's required in terms of all visible clothing for each job role and any variations due to different scenarios, this could be client visits or teams who work under intense conditions like in your foundry.
In particular, be clear on the items which staff have said they're unclear about. The types of things employees are often unsure about are jewellery, religious items, body piercings, ties, jeans and types of footwear.
Make your decision and then outline which of these aspects your company is happy with employees wearing. And which you aren't.
At this point, you should also make clear what the company will provide in terms of uniform items (either FOC or explain how employees will be charged) including quantities of specific items. As a rule, employees need one for wearing, one in the wash and one for tomorrow, as a minimum.
List Exceptions To The Policy And Ensure It's Legal
For example, ensure you treat all religious faiths equally. Not doing so runs the risk of discrimination. You need to ensure your policy does not impact an employees' right to religious expression. Of course, if the religious belief, for example wearing a crucifix, impacts health and safety then legally a person cannot be exempt from the rules.
It's a potentially tricky subject, granted. But, in reality, 99% of people will approach the issue with common sense and accept if somebody wants to wear a headscarf or crucifix, it doesn't really impact their day. If you sense a particular employee might be problematic, involve HR and get to the root of the issue by communicating.
It's not all about religious exclusions, though. You might have certain departments which don't need to follow the uniform policy. You may have a manufacturing facility with engineers and technicians but also an office upstairs to deal with the admin and the running of the warehouse.
In this case, it may be that the employees on the manufacturing floor are required to abide by the company uniform and H&S policy but the office staff have their own. Each company is different so make sure you let employees in certain departments know if any of the guidelines don't apply to them.
Now's also the perfect time to confirm that your policy is compliant with any laws or regulations. This means it covers any legal health and safety requirements such as PPE and hygiene considerations, where applicable. Kitchen staff needing to wear their hair up for safety or warehouse workers needing to wear steel toe capped boots are two common examples.
Your policy needs to also be in line with the Equality Act 2010. The act protects employees from discrimination on disability, gender, religion, race and sexual orientation. To ensure your policy is compliant, check the following points:
- It doesn't treat genders differently (both need comparable levels of uniform in appearance, comfort and formality).
- It considers race and religious requirements (everything that's covered in the exceptions section).
- It outlines adjustments for disabled people.
- It doesn't outline differences in uniforms for LGBT employees.
Decide On Consequences For Breaking The Policy - And Be Consistent
The consequences section should detail what measures will be taken if an employee fails to adhere to the policy.
It's up to you to decide the action to take that fits with your company's culture but if you require PPE by law to keep workers safe, then you'll probably want to consider the more serious actions.
The information of the person in charge of the policy
Lastly, the policy should include the name, number and email address of the person in charge of the policy. This is so employees know who they can contact with feedback. Or if they have any problems or issues, they know where to go. Typically, this will be your designated HR contact.
Choose a date for when the changes will go live. Don't have it implemented the next day, or even the same week. To ensure employee satisfaction, give them a few weeks to get on board with changes and time to highlight anything which might be too severe or not fitting for their particular department. Communicate via letter or email as well as verbally when the changes will come into effect.
You can hand out the letter via email, in person or even give a presentation if you think that employees need an explanation, for example, in the dreaded situation of changes coming from head office rather than from employees.
In the time between handing out the update policy letter and it being implemented is the time for employees to be open and honest with you about the policy.
This step is crucial for ensuring the smooth update of the policy. Having gone through these first steps though, the chances are your employees will be happy about many of the changes you're making and many of their concerns have been addressed in your amendments.
But, if a lot of employees are coming to you with the same concern, look into it, and send an email out about the result of what you found. Be honest with them. If you can change it, great. If you can't, tell them why.
Once the feedback time is over and you've looked into concerns, if any, you'll be able to amend the policy and implement it on your chosen date. You don't need to let employee feedback end there though, let them know they can come to HR at any time if they have a concern.
We recommend looking into refreshing your policy every 12 months.
So those are all the steps to updating your uniform policy in a way that your employees and the senior management will be on board with. Trying to get employees involved with the process is the best way to avoid any complaints or any concerns escalating with your directors. It's a tough job trying to appease both sides but a workwear policy is definitely the best way to ensure both parties know what's expected of each other.
Want All This Info In A Handy Download?
If you want some worksheets to help draft your new, updated uniform policy, take a look at this download.
Employees are complaining so it needs updating. A refreshed or new uniform policy could be just the thing to help get employee complaints down, as long as they are included in the decision making processes.
Download your free copy of our uniform policy pack. It contains everything you need to gather feedback, implement changes and then roll it out, too. The pack comes with easily customisable templates to cut down the decision making time and the drafting process. Download today to make things easier on yourself.