Many organisations, for reasons ranging from public perception to the requirements of health and safety law, require employees to wear appropriate corporate clothing. In an office setting, the employer will set a dress code which describes in detail what is necessary to wear while at work. In office based environments, the onus lays with the employee to purchase their office uniforms. In settings where the responsibility for purchasing staff uniforms lays with employers, many organisations work with recognised corporate clothing suppliers, who seek as business entities to fulfil the obligations of their clients. As a sector of the economy, procuring staff clothing is valued at approximately £500 million, which is equivalent to 4% of all the clothing bought by the UK population. Clearly, the larger the organisation, the more will be spent on business wear.
Clarifying a Corporate Clothing Policy
Having any clothing policy has the potential to be an emotive subject for all of the wrong reasons. Whilst most of us can see the reasons and value in having clearly defined standards of office dress, a staff uniform is a different matter. In a business where such attire is necessary, employees are likely to representing the organisation and working directly with the public, and such they must feel comfortable in what they are wearing. In other words, corporate uniforms should not be imposed on the workforce but should be negotiated with their agreement being at the forefront of discussions. Overall an employer will consider the following elements:
- State what they would consider to be ideal staff clothing this would cover texture, colour, thickness and contrast.
- Determine an approximate budget for acquisition of the corporate uniforms and how they are going to be paid for.
- Determine how long it is going to take to acquire the appropriate work wear.
- Ascertain whether or not the procurement process is concerned with a replacement across all workplaces and if the uniform is going to be rolled out gradually or instantaneously.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and will have a variety of different meanings depending on context.
The Components of Procurement
The wearing of staff uniforms is not something that should be imposed. All individuals and their representatives need to be involved at every stage of the purchasing of staff uniforms. The organisation will have a finance department that will have a say in determining the budget. All things considered they will be looking to balance employer requirements with the all-important bottom line. The marketing and procurement departments will work together to advise the employer as to availability of any in-house talent or skills. These employees can advise or participate in everything from advising on the design of clothing to suggesting an appropriate vendor. It is always possible that local knowledge may present the business with appropriate corporate clothing suppliers. The marketing team will be concerned with ensuring that the work wear juxtaposes with the company mission statement or its overall values.
Acquiring the correct corporate clothing can be a complex process which involves many different organisations and should not be viewed as an optional extra but as an integral part of the overall strategy.