It is well known that employee benefits are used as an incentive to hire new employees and retain those already on the payroll. It makes sense. If all other things were equal, most of us would rather work for a company that offers health insurance than one that doesn’t. But how about company uniforms? Are those important to you as an employee?
The reason for asking is the reality that some companies are being forced to rethink their benefits packages as they attempt to emerge from the coronavirus crisis. Inevitable insurance rate increases are coming, and companies short on cash may have to make up for the increases by getting rid of other benefits. Company uniforms might be the first benefit to go.
How Companies Provide Uniforms
In discussing the topic, it is important to distinguish between official company uniforms and dress policies. A company might require employees to wear certain colors and styles in relation to an established dress policy. This sort of unofficial uniform is not what we are discussing here. Rather, we are discussing uniforms that are identical in every way, provided by the company either directly or through a uniform allowance.
Some companies purchase uniforms and distribute them to employees. Upon termination, the employees either take the uniforms with them or turn them in. Under such a scenario, employees almost always launder the uniforms at home.
Other companies purchase uniforms but have them laundered by a third-party provider. This allows them to control the laundering process and address repairs as soon as the need arises.
The third method of providing company uniforms is to rent them from a company like Salt Lake City-based Alsco. Alsco owns their uniforms out right. They rent them to clients, providing clean uniforms every week while laundering dirty uniforms.
Company Uniforms as a Benefit
Regardless of how company uniforms are provided, they do represent a benefit of sorts. Imagine you work in an auto repair shop. Repairing cars is dirty, dangerous work. Your typical repair shop is not very friendly to street clothing either. Your employer providing uniforms means you do not have to invest in heavy-duty work clothing. That could save you quite a bit of money.
Then there is the laundering question. Take a registered nurse who works in a hospital. She may be required to purchase and launder her own scrubs. There is very little benefit in that. But if the hospital had a uniform rental program, she would spend no money on her uniforms at all. She would save money by not having to buy clothing or launder it.
We can take this example one step further by citing the health benefits of professional laundering. Being able to leave soiled uniforms at the hospital mitigates the risks otherwise present when a nurse wears her uniform home. So now you have an intangible benefit that goes above and beyond financial considerations. You are actually talking health and safety in this case.
Uniforms and Employee Morale
One last thing to consider is the prospect of company uniforms improving employee morale. Would you feel better about your employer if company uniforms were provided at no cost to you? Would you be more proud to work for your company if you and all of your coworkers were dressed in a good-looking uniform?
Some people view company uniforms as a demonstration of their employer’s commitment to them. Others do not. In the end, whether or not company uniforms are a worthwhile benefit is unsettled. Companies have to make that decision for themselves. As a potential employee, so do you.