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Airline hostesses, pilots, cable repairmen, postal workers, and nurses. Does it really make a difference that they all look the same, especially in this day and age? In fact, it does and their uniform serves an important role. Just as in every other industry, uniforms in the hospitality industry are no different. There are very good reasons why restaurants, bars, hotels and shops are still enforcing uniforms in the workplace. See, customers care about the actual product they are paying for, but surprise surprise, they also care a great deal about how they get it too. 

According to a major 2017 study in the Journal of Hotel and Business Management, uniforms play a major role during any service encounter and overwhelmingly impact stakeholder experience. In fact, the overall conclusion shows that uniforms communicate to others that one belongs to the organization and incentivizes those wearing the uniform to do a better job. So now that you know that uniforms matter, let us show you the reasoning.

Uniforms set the scene

Walk into any establishment, and having well maintained, smart uniforms in keeping with the decor and offering of a place, set the scene. Wouldn’t a hospital look differently if doctors and nurses were dressed in their casual clothes? How about walking into Starbucks and seeing the same thing? Would you even answer the door if a plain clothes postal worker didn’t have a uniform? You get the idea. Indeed, uniforms, no matter the varying reasons for them (hygiene, security, or corporate branding), all add to that initial impression and help to immediately promote a certain image associated with your business. You want your uniforms to be in keeping with the overall look.  So, for instance, if you are looking to capture a colorful and fun vibe, keep those uniforms cheery, make them pop and be sure your staff are trained to have the smile to boot. In this case, it’s less about looking sophisticated and more about looking accessible. Uniforms also help if they include the name of your business and logo printed on them. Similarly, any t-shirts or merchandise you sell further advertises your business and pushes your brand. Simple features like these will help to offer a consistent image and help customers remember you too.

A signal for customer service

Walk into an airplane, and you know who can show you your seat. When customers walk into a restaurant, hotel or bar, if the staff are in uniform, then they too will know immediately who the staff are. This makes it easier to order, purchase what they need to and feel assisted. That’s why it’s important that your staff are easily identifiable, and the easiest way to do this is through uniforms. The last thing you want is a customer not knowing who to approach for help and getting frustrated by your service. If everyone is in uniform, this won’t happen. Indeed, the faster a customer gets to getting what they want and spending their money, the bigger your bottom line. 

For staff themselves, it goes without saying that they will be more conscious of when they are and are not not wearing uniforms. This will make them more aware of their actions while they’re serving customers.  Indeed, what they wear ties them directly to the brand, making them at a basic psychological level, more sensitive to the fact that they are in “work-mode” and “on”. Moreover, with this “work” mindset, they are more likely to be attentive to customer needs. Adding finishing touches such as name tags to a uniform can also give both your customers and staff a more personalised experience so don’t be afraid to go there.

Team players

Wearing a uniform has tremendous benefits for your staff in more subtle ways as well. In a review of the top 5 reasons why uniforms are important in the hospitality industry,  employees in uniform looked and felt more committed. If all staff were trained to reflect core values when at work, a uniform helped the employees feel as if they are one, unified team of individuals. It also gave them a sense of identity and purpose since its a physical reminder. Of importance too, uniforms were the great equalizer. They serve as a reminder that all employees are on the same “playing field”, irrespective of background and history.  This makes for happier employees; once again underscoring a sense of team spirit and belonging, which in turn can improve worker productivity. 

From the employee perspective, employer provided uniforms save employees money, and when provided as part of a rental program, they eliminate employee laundering time and expense. Just remember to make the uniforms you choose easy to wear and care for. You don’t want anything high maintenance or clothes that are too difficult to wash or iron. You want your staff, instead, to feel prepped, comfortable and ready to go. And know that they will be more incentivized. According to a recent study, 1 in 4 Brits claim that they haven’t left a tip because their server looked scruff; whilst 21% say that they have left a tip because their server was smartly dressed.

Keeping it clean -  hygiene considerations 

It comes as no surprise that uniforms protect staff in the workplace and maintain levels of hygiene that you otherwise would not have. This is the case whether you are talking about a surgeon or a pharmacist, but it also applies very much in the hospitality industry as well. For instance, kitchen staff are at risk of heat, slipping, injuries and accidents from chemicals and equipment. Uniforms help prevent such incidents. Of note as well, there are equal health and safety considerations for staff who simply prepare and serve the food. For this reason, these employees should have their hair tied, wear only minimal jewellery, and limit nail polish and make-up. The overall look should be smart and clean and those hygiene considerations should be respected.

As you can see, uniforms are a simple and easy way to step up your game in the hospitality industry. Indeed, they are both physically and psychologically an added touch with tremendous gains!

Jessica Brown
Jessica is a globally renowned writer specializing in International Relations, Economics and Political Affairs. A graduate from Brown and Cambridge Universities she now focuses on helping small to medium businesses grow their bottom line.
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