Uniforms are an important tool for FMs to use to demonstrate and enhance their brand. A smart staff uniform shows pride in the company and the job at hand, however, dressing wide-ranging teams with many job roles can be a challenge, says Paul Farrell
11 September 2017 | Paul Farrell
1. How do I select a uniform that demonstrates my brand?
The main challenge facing FM teams is the number of job roles the uniforms must cover.
From front-of-house to maintenance teams, it will include many different garments and fabrics, yet must unite everyone as one team. The main way that this is achieved is through colour and the use of common symbols. Our reference point is always the Pantone colours from the brand's logo, and we work with our fabric suppliers to create a match across the whole uniform. We might also take elements from the logo itself and apply them across each piece. This means everyone looks smart and recognisable as belonging to one company across the globe, yet wears apparel that is suited to the job and climate.
2. How do I know what kind of garments and fabrics a uniform should include?
Start by considering each job role, its everyday tasks and the equipment used. Maintenance teams have more physical roles, so non-restrictive and comfortable garments in hardwearing fabrics will be vital. But there's no reason why they can't be smart. Tailored workwear trousers in long-lasting polycottons and polo shirts in thermo-regulating fabrics will keep staff feeling comfortable regardless of their environment.
Some jobs, such as those in food preparation or healthcare environments will require clothing that offers protection and is washable at high temperatures. Chefs' jackets and healthcare tunics are the standard here, but there are technological innovations. In healthcare recent developments in fabrics mean that lightweight fabrics with antimicrobial properties are available.
Uniforms for front-of-house teams offer more choice, but comfort is still key. Most of our FM teams prefer suiting for customer-facing staff to create a professional first impression, but even suiting can offer adapted features to make sure staff look good throughout the day. This includes added stretch in waistbands, Teflon coating and permanent creases in trouser legs to make the garments easier to care for.
3. How do I choose a uniform that all staff enjoy wearing?
Trying to please a big team while balancing the need to manage costs and develop a recognisable uniform is tough.
Staff should be invited to take part in the process from the start and their input considered at all stages. Select representatives of each job function to give feedback on their current uniforms, invite them to take part in wearer trials of proposed designs and implement their suggestions where relevant. This will allow them to test that they are comfortable during the day and give everyone confidence that you're listening to their needs.
4. How do I ensure uniform compliance?
Uniform is key in building a brand, so compliance across all locations is vital. When we update a uniform for a key client we create a wearer guide for distribution among the team. This identifies the specific garments that must be worn by each job role.
Providing an adequate uniform allowance is key. If staff do not have enough items to see them through the working week they cannot be expected to look smart. We recommend at least three shirts, blouses, tops or tunics for each full-time member of staff and two pairs of trousers or skirts as a minimum. For healthcare, food preparation or grounds maintenance we'd recommend an even greater allowance.
5. How do I keep control of my budget and minimise uniform wastage?
Develop a close working relationship with your uniform account manager, who can help you to accurately forecast your needs and ensure that there's no interruption in supply. An additional service we provide is access to wardrobe management software. This passes responsibility for individual orders to local managers, while the budget is set centrally. The software will only provide access to the allowed garments for each job role to ensure compliance with the correct uniform and sets limits on how many can be ordered for full or part-time staff to prevent over-ordering.
Paul Farrell is sales director at Simon Jersey, a supplier of uniforms. The company created Team GB's outfits for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games