It’s one of the age-old debates between management and among human resource departments – whether they should require employees to wear uniforms to work. There are HR practitioners who say that wearing uniforms have a directly positive impact on employee performance and productivity. But, there are also those who say uniforms or dress codes that tend to stifle creativity and productivity. This article takes a look into what they all have to say about uniforms help or hinder productivity.
Some law firms and banks require their rank employees to wear uniforms or, at least, to wear conservative color shirts. They sometimes impose color code days so that their employees come in with similar colors every day though the colors may differ from one day to another, like whites on Mondays and light blue on Tuesdays, and so on. In the medical profession, requiring female hospital staff to wear womens scrub tops is a dress code that keeps it comfortable and casual.
How Uniforms Help Productivity
Some workplace studies have observed that employee uniforms have a positive impact on employee productivity. They found that enforcing an office uniform tends to help develop a professional mindset among employees and workers. This nurtures mental focus and contributes to improving workplace productivity overall.
When they have to wear uniforms, employees develop a mindset that they have to stay professional when they’re in uniform. They can be more casual in their clothes and outlook when in social interactions.
Uniforms also help organizations create and establish their identity. They make it easy, for instance, to identify doctors from the care-giving staff, or the restaurant supervisor from the order-taking or waiting staff.
Wearing uniforms also has an impact on the outlook of employees and workers. Uniforms make the person wearing them feel that they’re part of a unique group. The effect is that it increases their enthusiasm for the job. This further enhances their performance and improves their productivity. For instance, both doctors and police officers take immense pride in the professional prestige and weight of their uniforms. This enables them with a constant reminder about the importance of their duties and responsibilities. It gives them a sense of seriousness of purpose, shared responsibility with their colleagues, and a sense of connection to the larger community.
Another good thing about uniforms is that they take away the need to wear individualized clothes. Some famous CEOs have publicly admitted that sticking to similar clothes has taken away the need to think about what to wear.
It may seem like taking away a person’s individuality by restricting their personal choices and preferences in picking what they’ll wear to work. But, clothes aren’t just about expressing one’s unique personality.
Having different clothes also functions as an intuitive indicator of a person’s social class based on what clothes they can afford to buy and to wear.
Whether it’s acceptable or not, the fact is that customers or clients sometimes make their own quick judgments based on what a person is wearing. It’s ideal for people not to judge any person based on looks, but the reality is that appearances create impressions. Sometimes, these snap judgments can lead to tension and conflict among colleagues and co-workers.
There were also those who said that requiring uniforms would take out the alleged possibility of women being harassed by male co-workers whenever they wear attractive clothes.
Furthermore, workplace studies have shown that allowing casual clothes among your employees often nurtures casual attitudes toward their work. Their casual attitude tends to lessen their focus and concentration, thereby resulting in decreased productivity.
Dressing formally for work has also enabled people to have a mental partition between work and leisure. When they suit up for work, they’re constantly reminded that they need to focus and concentrate on doing their jobs. When they get home and take off their work clothes, they know they can relax their minds and start their rest and leisure.
How Dress Code Affects Productivity
In the United States, wearing casual clothes, at least, once a week is now allowed by around 62% of companies. Around 32% of companies allow their workers to dress casual every day. This isn’t a very high percentage yet, but it’s definitely a significant increase from the 19% only 7 years ago in 2014.
The trend indicates that casual clothing is becoming the preference among large multinationals. According to the most recent studies, around 61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed. A very high majority of 80% of employees who work in a place where a dress code is enforced responded that they don’t find the dress code useful.
There are several reasons people are starting to favor casual clothes over a more formal dress code. One of the reasons is that it’s expensive to start and build-up a wardrobe for the suit-and-tie workplace. It takes a couple of thousands of dollars to invest in nice shirts, suits, ties, shoes, and dresses. You can’t expect everyone to invest in these things. They’d much prefer to buy other personal stuff given their limited means.
Another reason is that comfort and confidence tend to go together. When you allow your workers to wear clothes which they’re comfortable in, the result is that they’re also more confident at work. When workers are comfortable and confident, they tend to have higher morale. They can focus more on their work when they’re not bothered, overly conscious, or distracted by what they’re wearing.
Another impact of a less strict dress code is that it nurtures an environment where people can express themselves. This enables them to activate their creativity. When employees are comfortable and creative while they’re working, this tends to elevate their creative thinking even more. They also feel happier at work. The result is that their work tends to become of a distinctly higher quality.
There are some instances when having a dress code seems to have a directly positive impact on productivity. For instance, studies have observed that those who don’t observe the dress code tend to create an environment of unease and distrust. This would have an impact on both the conduct and substance of the meeting or interaction, thereby affecting employee productivity.
Dressed To Work
Based on recent studies and trends revealed in surveys, it seems that more companies are adopting a casual dress code at work. These studies show that having office uniforms tend to improve workplace performance and productivity overall. On the other hand, allowing workers to wear casual clothes tends to improve creativity. Management can still combine these two insights by requiring their employees to wear uniforms, while keeping the uniforms casual.