Introducing a workwear policy into your workplace may seem like an expensive and unpopular choice, but surprisingly, it seems that this just isn't the case. If done well, a workwear policy can encourage a feeling of wellbeing and engagement within the workforce with the added advantage of promoting a positive image to the public and your customers.
Where workwear is stylish (an increasingly important factor), comfortable, fit and safe for the job and work environment it can help employees feel more engaged with the company and act in a professional manner when off-site. It can also help with team building as it puts everyone on a level playing field.
We should, at this point, note the difference between workwear and PPE. On this page we are focussing on workwear which is used to present a corporate image, rather than PPE which is safety kit, legally required to be worn for certain tasks and work environments which carry risk of injury or illness.
Workwear should be fit for the individual employees job role and working environment; it should keep them cool or warm in a quality fabric which promotes comfort and breathability. It should be comfortable and provide ease of movement and there should be no loose tags, fastenings, buckles or long sleeves which may get caught in machinery. Depending on risks in your workplace you may want to consider quick release fastenings such as velcro and stud-poppers. Hi-Vis and waterproof garments should also be incorporated into workwear.
A strong workwear policy, which is well implemented can also encourage employees to wear their PPE in a consistent and appropriate manner, as it has now been accepted into their day-to-day uniform.
For the employees, a workwear policy may be beneficial as it will save them from potentially damaging or staining their own clothes and will save them money on replenishing clothing. It is also possible to claim tax back when laundering your own workwear or uniform. Wearing branded workwear can help employees to feel engaged with the brand and embody the spirit and values of the company. When working off-site it should encourage employees to take care to portray a smart and professional appearance.
When selecting workwear for your organisation you should consider how to incorporate branding without making your workwear garish or unappealing. If your branding features bright colours find a way to incorporate these in a tasteful and stylish way - what looks great on a logo might not be so appealing in a shirt! Shop around for good fabrics that will be comfortable to wear, suitable for conditions in the workplace and stylish - many people thinking of workwear imagine nasty, itchy polyester shirts and to ensure good take-up of the new policy you should avoid these 'cheap' materials. Tasteful branding with embroidery or printing will help anchor the workwear to a brand and identity and promote your company outside of the workplace. Brand awareness is generated purely from your staff been seen in their workwear.
Well designed and smart workwear will portray you as a reputable employer who takes care of their employees. When buying, make sure you buy ample quantities of each size to allow staff opportunity to launder workwear regularly. Also consider seasonality; buy a range that will cover employees needs through changing seasons and allow for year-round waterproofs where staff work outside.
Finally, remember the importance of involving employees in the process. Take on board their suggestions and ideas - they are more likely to take-up the new workwear if they feel they have been listened to. They are also likely to put forward points about what they need and what will be most comfortable which you may not have otherwise considered, and which will contribute to the overall success of the policy.