If you’re considering adding or changing your staff uniforms, it’s important to think about how these changes may affect your brand, your business, your employees, and your customers. Research shows 75 percent of customers prefer employees in uniform, and they can help promote brand awareness and boost employee performance.
However, you want to make sure your restaurant uniforms are comfortable for your employees, in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations and fit your brand.
Here are 3 essential things to consider:
1. Choose uniforms that reflect your brand and culture
Your restaurant has its own, identifiable personality. When patrons think of your establishment, a particular image comes to mind. Your staff uniforms are an important part of that picture. They help add a sense of professionalism and consistency and they also help staff members stand out. In fact, 97 percent of people believe uniforms make employees easier to identify. This can help prevent those awkward situations where a guest mistakes another for a server.
Your customers aren’t the only factor to take into consideration when it comes to reinforcing your brand and culture. Uniforms can also encourage company pride among your staff and help them feel like they’re valued members of a team. Uniforms can promote team camaraderie and help foster a sense of community within your restaurant environment.
2. Ensure you’ve implemented clear policies on dressing and grooming
Consider what you want your restaurant server uniforms to look like and how you want your staff to wear them. Have a written dress code and clearly communicate all of your expectations to both existing employees and new hires. This will limit any confusion about the requirements of the uniform and how staff members are expected to present themselves while on the job.
For example, if you want your employees to tuck in their shirts or wear their hair tied back, it’s important to stipulate this in your employee handbook. This will ensure employees understand the standard and can comply easily!
Grooming and hygiene are especially important in the restaurant industry as your staff members regularly handle food. Having a clear dress code and grooming policies can help ensure your staff look presentable at all times and your expectations are met.
3. Make sure your uniforms are practical, safe, and non-discriminatory
It’s important to consider the ethical and legal implications of any uniforms you ask your staff members to wear. Make sure you understand your local laws and regulations clearly before implementing any dress code or grooming policies.
For example, some Canadian provinces (including Alberta and British Columbia) have passed laws prohibiting employers from mandating that staff members wear high heels. Similarly, California employers are not legally allowed to prevent any staff member from wearing pants due to the sex of the employee.
In addition to legal requirements, it’s also important to carefully consider the practicality and safety of the uniforms you select. Depending on their design, uniforms can either help or hinder your employees from performing their daily tasks safely and efficiently. Always think about the functionality of the uniform when making decisions. For example: an apron with a pocket may make taking orders easier for your servers, or a dangling tie could get in their way when bussing tables.
Having a standard uniform for your team can boost morale, promote brand recognition, and even increase performance. When dress codes are well-thought-out and clearly defined, with legal and safety concerns in mind, uniforms can be a huge asset to your brand and business. However, when managing uniform fees, ensure that you are aware of the legislation on the rules and regulations of the state or province you are operating in has. Some states do not allow uniform fees to be deducted, warranting a possibility to underpaying an employee, whereas other states or provinces may allow uniform deductions.