Uniforms and Personal Appearance Go Hand-in-Hand

When Alsco, a uniform rental provider drops off a load of uniforms at a client’s location, he or she has no idea how those uniforms will be used. The general assumption is that employees will wear and treat their uniforms with pride. They will utilize the uniforms to present the best possible image they can. But sometimes that is not the case. Sometimes employees do not get the fact that personal appearance and quality uniforms go hand-in-hand.

To demonstrate the point, consider a recent memo just put out by United Airlines. The memo was directed at flight attendants who seem to have become a bit lax on personal appearance standards. According to Condé Nast Traveler, United management is concerned that the company has become “too relaxed in compliance with established standards.”

Standards Exist for a Reason

United Airlines is not the only company with dress standards for its employees. Indeed, standards exist for a reason. United management is obviously concerned about unpressed uniforms, stained shirts and pants, worn-out shoes, and even “skirt lengths that don’t conform to the standard,” according to Condé Nast. And they should be.

A uniform is much more than just fabric, buttons, and zippers. It is also something that creates an image in the minds of customers. As such, a uniform needs to be worn and maintained to the highest possible standard. Otherwise it does not create the image it is intended to create. It might even create a negative image if the uniform’s deficiencies are serious enough.

Imagine a police officer whose uniform is wrinkled and stained. Imagine that police officer wearing terribly worn-out shoes and pants with holes in the knees. What would your impression of him be? In all likelihood, you would perceive a person who doesn’t take very much pride in his personal appearance. Subconsciously, you would probably have a negative view of his ability to help you in your time of need.

It turns out that the same rules apply to any and all company uniforms, regardless of those wearing them. Taking maximum advantage of the power of company uniforms to convey a message includes paying attention to personal appearance. It includes keeping uniforms looking clean and sharp.

Uniforms and Personal Grooming

Some industries set certain standards for personal grooming to complement uniform standards. The security industry is a good example. Though there are some exceptions to the rule, security companies by-and-large require their male guards to be clean-shaven. Those that allow mustaches require those mustaches be neatly trimmed and of a reasonable length.

Again, there is good reason for this. Certain professions demand a certain level of personal grooming in order to put forth the right kind of image. Are you more likely to trust a well-groomed and sharply dressed security guard or one with long hair, a scraggly beard, and a dirty uniform? Right or wrong, the answer should be obvious.

Maintaining Uniform Standards

Alsco says that there are couple of things companies can do to maintain uniform standards. First is to turn uniform provision over to a rental company, like theirs, so that uniforms are properly cleaned and maintained at all times. Second, companies can routinely remind staff of uniform standards and follow up with annual or semiannual training.

Sometimes, all it takes is a reminder to get staff to pay attention to uniform standards. United Airlines offers a clear example of what happens when staff don’t receive them. They begin to forget about simple things like keeping uniforms cleaned and pressed. When that happens, personal appearance goes out the window and the company image with it.

Monique Hall

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