It doesn't matter how the economic climate is faring, companies have always looked for ways to increase staff productivity. Every business owner knows that increased staff productivity should increase profitability - assuming everything else in the business model is performing well. Business owners also employ various methods of improving staff productivity from engaging staff through things like a suggestion box or rewards scheme to employing expensive management consultants. Very often, these same business owners will overlook a simple and cost effective method of improving productivity, and that is, ensuring the employees have the right work wear.
In some jobs, there is very little choice in what can be worn. Hazardous tasks and certain functions for example, require specialist clothing. Sometimes uniforms are worn to distinguish a certain job - such as emergency services workers. Within these confines there is little leeway but, for other times when a uniform can or must be introduced, getting the staff involved in the design and choice of clothing can have some surprising results on both morale and productivity.
A woman likes to open her wardrobe and pick her outfit, and feel good, even when going to work. If she is forced into a uniform that she doesn't like or feel comfortable in, she is not going to be as happy as in her own clothes. The effect of this cannot be underestimated. Add up all the time that could be lost by your female staff adjusting ill-fitting clothes in the staff toilets, moving clothing that gets in the way when they are working and time griping about how horrible their uniforms are and you could have a significant amount of minutes that eats into your working hours.
On the other hand, once they have accepted that a uniform is required, if they have had a hand in its choice and design, you are more likely to have a happier, more productive and more-focused female section of your workforce. They will think of things you maybe haven't considered and ask for issues to be addressed; such as for example, female staff not wearing trousers on a reception desk. Your employees know best what they need, and getting them involved in the uniform design process, you can get your wishes and theirs fulfilled even if an element of compromise is needed.
Your male employees won't see things in quite the same way (although you will have some men who are concerned about their appearance at work), but it is just as important for them to be comfortable and at ease in their uniforms. They too, want clothes that fit and don't get in the way of doing the job.
In the world of work, sometimes, the most trivial gestures and changes can be a shot in the arm for productivity. Even things like having easy clean, easy-care fabric can make a difference.
A uniform is a badge of office. Your employees should be proud to wear it. It shouldn't make them feel part of a crowd, but part of a family - your company. As we know, everyone in any family likes to have their say. Give them the platform by inviting their input. Have a look at work clothes by Engelbert Strauss, and just watch that productivity metre tick over faster.
Catherine Anson is a business productivity consultant. She has extensive experience with improving worker productivity. Her articles appear on business and productivity blogs.