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September 19, 2010
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Many building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house facility services directors have traditionally viewed employee uniforms as a functional necessity — similar to any other tool needed to get a job done.

However, uniforms are now emerging as a true benefit for those directors seeking more affordable ways to attract, retain and motivate employees.

Evidence that directors of professional cleaning operations are turning to uniforms as a fringe benefit — or perhaps more accurately, a mutual benefit — has been revealed in industry studies that show more than 33 million employees wear uniforms on the job and that their ranks are growing by approximately 1.2 million people each year.

Generally speaking, uniforms make positive contributions to employee attitudes because of the team-like sense of belonging they create.

And, on a more practical level, a managed uniform program — which is typically rental in nature — means organizations give their employees a form of a “pay raise” because the employer assumes the financial responsibility for supplying and maintaining the freshly cleaned, image-enhancing clothing their employees wear to work each day.

A sense of self-worth
Employees save on upfront uniform investments, home laundering costs, and, of course, the ongoing need to purchase replacement clothing as work apparel becomes damaged or worn out.

Add in the fact that uniforms can enhance an employee’s professional sense of self-worth, and you have a powerful combination of factors that can help improve morale.

BSCs and in-house facility services directors wear many supervisory hats: They act as consultants to building managers as to the best ways to entrap soil and water; they act as educators by keeping workers up-to-date about policies, procedures, cleaning equipment and chemicals; and they act as administrators by creating work schedules and documenting processes and procedures.

Those multiple responsibilities, however, can often be under-appreciated as a result of an unprofessional image.

It has often been said: “If you want to play the part, you have to dress the part.”

In other words, if directors of professional cleaning operations and their employees want to be recognized as professionals, they should dress the part.

Improved security
Beyond creating a professional image and being an economical fringe benefit, employee uniforms can also play a central role with respect to a building’s security.

A unified look for workers can help to ensure that only authorized personnel are entering and exiting specific work areas.

And, if customized to signify specific work responsibilities, whether by color or garment type, uniforms can make it much easier for BSCs or in-house facility service managers to identify employees who could be operating equipment or performing a task for which they have not been properly trained to do.

Programs for all budgets

Any company that is considering an employee uniform program can find a valuable resource by contacting a major uniform supplier that can offer professional guidance, as well as offer programs to fit a wide range of budgets based on rental, lease and purchase options.

No matter what uniform option is selected, those who adopt employee uniform programs inevitably reflect a winning attitude by creating a more satisfied workforce and taking greater control of their overall business image.

William Coe, a contributing member of the Society for Human Resource Management, develops and executes organizational strategies for UniFirst Corporation, a leading supplier of work clothing, uniforms and careerwear to businesses of all sizes and types. The company also provides facility services cleanliness products, such as restroom items and floor mats. For more information, contact UniFirst at (800) 225-3364 or
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