How to Ensure Members of the Public Can Clearly Recognise your Staff Uniform

HA0476 Traffic Officers New Uniform. August 2009. This set of images describes several subjects including Traffic Officers on the network, in their TO vehicles, helping to the public and working at Regional Control Centre.

Image via Flickr creative commons from the Highways Agency

Uniforms have been around for millennia. They help distinguish employees and associate themselves with a particular role or firm. If a customer is in need of assistance, a uniform makes help easy to find.

Similarly, the uniforms worn by service men and women are practical, safe and, in the case of the police force, represent a presentable public-facing image. Ensuring the public can clearly recognise your staff is easy with trusted suppliers such as Premier Workwear Uniforms.

Image is everything and the right uniform can say a lot about your business – often, it is the first impression a potential customer will get. In Australia, Flight Centre employees all wear the same uniform, regardless of their position in the company.

“No-one is any different, we’re all equal, and that goes for the office fit-outs too – we all occupy 10 square metres – even our founder and Managing Director Skroo Turner. But the uniforms are the most tangible aspect of the egalitarian culture. It helps convey professionalism,” says general manager of property and procurement, Rhonda McSweeney

As an employee, wearing a uniform is a reminder of your personal responsibility. Consumers and clients will also appreciate the way a customer-facing organisation makes efforts to be presentable at all times.

Although there is little to no research regarding what kind of effect a uniform has on profitability or turnover, they represent a culture and an image for a business. They are crucial to brand identity.

Each time a client interacts with a member of staff, it should be treated as an advertisement for a company – because of this the uniform should be individual and memorable. Colour is particularly important. According to a report by the University of Loyola in Maryland, colour can increase brand recognition by around 80 per cent.

When it comes to choosing which colour is correct for a certain business, colour psychologists can help out. According to colour specialists, Colours of the Soul: “If you think about it quickly but without analysing it, you naturally react more formally to someone in a navy suit than to someone in a yellow one. Colour can and does affect our reactions to people whether we want it to or not, the effect is subtle but very real nevertheless.

“You can send a positive or negative message by the shade of colour you wear or use in business.”

A lot of the world’s biggest brand names use uniforms to their advantage and a distinctive colour is a huge part of that. Think of how instantly you identify EasyJet through their bright orange theme. Similarly, all British Airways staff have a smart and distinctive dress code which converys their image of style and class.

There are some cons in the world of work uniforms, they rarely allow an employee to express their individuality and can be an added cost to the already pricey business of running a company. But at the same time, a managed uniform service can be offset slightly with tax deductions.

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How to go about picking out a casual work outfit

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Image from Flickr creative commons via …love Megan

Depending on where you work and the nature of your work, you may find that you have a dress code to adhere to. If you work in a high-powered professional role, it’s likely that your work ‘uniform’ will consist of a smart suit, shirt and a tie for men, whilst women may be required to wear skirt suits or smart dresses and blouses. Tradespeople on the other hand should wear heavy duty casual clothes that allow ease of movement and incorporate high visibility elements to increase health and safety. Some offices adopt a policy of smart casual dress code, meaning that employees are allowed to wear some more casual items but they have to have a smarter edge. So how do you go about picking out a casual work outfit?

As we discussed above, workwear doesn’t have to be purely smart. You’d be forgiven for assuming that work clothing is all suits and ties, but when you consider the sheer diversity of jobs and job industries, you begin to realise that just as every company is different, so differ the dress code policies. Many offices also have what’s known as ‘casual Friday’ where all employees, including management dress down in a bid to welcome the oncoming weekend.

Whilst the idea of business casual sounds appealing, it can be a little confusing for most people. Many HR managers attempt to define the rules and set boundaries about what is smart casual and what is in fact, plain casual. However, it’s not so simple, as many people’s opinion about smart casual differs. Some people find the wearing of jeans inappropriate, whereas others say that jeans are fine as long as they have no rips and are not overly baggy. There are others still who feel that smart casual is somewhere in between a full-blown suit and jeans. They say that men should be able to get away with wearing trousers or khakis and a shirt with a collar. Women on the other hand can wear trousers or a knee-length skirt and a blouse or a shirt with a collar. Jeans and athletic wear are not permitted.

It seems therefore, that there is a general lack of consensus about the notion of smart casual and that it can actually make deciding what to wear for work more problematic than having clear cut rules. Although a good indication is to see what other employees are wearing and try to match their style. Furthermore, if you find you’re receiving strange looks from the managers, it may be an indication to change your work attire.

Let’s take a look at some examples of casual business attire for men. You should always choose shirts that have collars and make sure you tuck it in to your trousers. For business casual, it’s not necessary to wear a tie. If you’re totally unsure, it’s best to play it safe and stick to a white button-down shirt, although any colour of shirt is acceptable.

When it comes to trousers, styles such as khakis, dress pants, trousers and corduroy pants are all acceptable. Jeans are generally not considered to be business casual although check with your employer if you’re unsure. It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed, so if you’re unsure about an item of clothing, it may be safer not to wear it and stick to the safer options.

Rather than wearing a blazer, layer a jumper over the top of your shirt for a more casual look. Stick to formal work shoes in traditional black, grey or brown colours.

Okay so now we’ve covered what is appropriate for men to wear, let’s focus on the rules for casual office attire for women. For a good indication of the sorts of styles you should be wearing, take inspiration from the men. Of course, as a woman, you’ll want to distinguish yourself in a way that makes you look both stylish and feminine. Try a pair of linen pants teamed with a fitted top. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight fitting but opt for styles that fit your form and emphasise womanly curves. In terms of shoes, black heels are an obvious yes but make sure you keep a comfy pair of flats by the side of your desk to pop on when your feet start to hurt. Ballet flats are chic yet comfortable and make an ideal choice of footwear for business casual.

The main thing to remember about smart casual dress codes is that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Oh, and if you have a client meeting, ensure you’re wearing your smartest clothes.

Five office tasks that you should consider outsourcing

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Image via Flickr from vlima.com

Outsourcing is something a lot of companies do, but if you are new to the practice it can be confusing as you try to decide what you can continue to do within your own firm and what would be better if it was passed on to a specialist company.

There are many benefits of outsourcing, as it can leave your staff members free to concentrate on other tasks that need to be completed in-house. It can also save enterprises money, while they are able to outsource their work either within the UK or to another country, which is known as offshoring.

So, if you are thinking of outsourcing some of your office tasks then where do you start when it comes to deciding what to choose? Here is a list of some jobs that lend themselves well to this way of working.

Admin tasks

Many of the admin tasks required in an office are essential to keep everything running smoothly, but are simple to complete and do not require a great amount of skill. Things such as typing and proof-reading, producing presentations, researching and maintain tracking spreadsheets can all be outsourced, while your enterprise will maintain original files and documentation so that if anything were to go wrong, it could easily be fixed.

Marketing

Marketing is essential for enterprises, as it is this that helps to build the brand, establish public perception and promote the business. Without some form of marketing, companies would simply exist with no way of attracting business and establishing a customer base.

Because of this, it’s essential that marketing is done correctly, which is why is it something that is well worth outsourcing, unless you can afford to employ your own in-house marketing team.

Call centres

Call centres are perhaps one of the most often-outsourced tasks within enterprises. If your company is a customer-facing firm such as a retailer or a service provider, the sheer volume of calls you are likely to receive means you will need a large team of people to deal with customers satisfactorily. This is expensive and time-consuming, so in many cases it is better to employ the services of a specialist call centre provider.

A live telephone answering service with Moneypenny could be one solution, or you can get in touch with a company that provides a full set of services. Whatever you choose, it’s important that you do your research and ensure your consumers the high levels of service you would expect.

Accounting tasks

Like marketing, this is something that can be completed in-house if you can afford to employ your own team of accountants. However, there are many specialist firms that will provide a full range of services, such as billing, financial statements and tax preparation if you are self-employed. If you run a small business, you can rely on payroll processing services to deal with salary admin and the payment of wages.

Accounting is something that you cannot afford to get wrong, so it is something that may be well worth outsourcing.

HR administration

Human resources encompasses a lot things within a company and depending on the size of your workforce, keeping on top of everything can be a challenging task. Management of things such as holiday records and personal data can all be outsourced to a specialist provider.

As you can see, many aspects of running an office can be outsourced and, providing you find a reliable company, this can make your job a lot easier and improve the running of your company.

Top Tips for Keeping Workplace Kitchens Clean

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Image via Flickr creative commons from The Clovenhoof Society

If you’ve spent any length of time working in an office, you’ve probably noticed just how easy it is for people to rub one another up the wrong way. Looking from the outside in, some of the conflicts that flare up between office workers can seem exceptionally petty. It isn’t until you’re on the inside that you start to realise just how and why colleagues frustrate one another. One of the most common sources of workplace strife is the communal kitchen. While office kitchens are generally very useful and highly valued facilities, they can often be the scene of seemingly endless aggravation. This is why it’s important to take steps to ensure that your workplace kitchen remains clean. After all, it’s really just a basic question of showing respect and consideration for others.

An article from eHow.com observes that as storage space in communal kitchens tends to be somewhat limited, it makes sense for workers to ensure that they leave as little food there as possible. It might be tempting, but for the sake of workplace harmony if nothing else you should at least try to ensure that you don’t occupy too much space. You should ask yourself precisely how much food you actually need to take with you, and consider whether you can afford to take a little less. You should also avoid leaving strong-smelling items of food in the communal fridge. Make sure that the items you do leave in the fridge are unambiguously labelled.

It’s also essential that you clean up after yourself once you’re done. Don’t just leave plates and cups lying around for other people to deal with – this is simply ignorance. If you make a mess while you’re eating, make sure you clean it up. Keep a close eye for any stains, and ensure that they’re cleaned up as quickly as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it’s likely to be to clean said stains. This is really just a matter of basic hygiene. Nobody wants to have to endure an unclean kitchen, and you probably wouldn’t approve if other people failed to uphold basic standards. You should therefore seek to uphold these standards yourself.

Another article from the Laurence Journal-World suggests that it could be a good idea to put someone in charge of overseeing goings-on in the kitchen. This needn’t necessarily mean micro-management, of course. Simply task someone with the responsibility of setting up a cleaning schedule and enforcing an agreed set of rules. This could help to defuse much of the tension that so often surrounds the issue of who’s actually responsible for cleaning up.

Also, if you know you’re likely to be out of the office for a few days – if, for example, you have a holiday planned – you should ensure that you don’t leave any food behind. If you do, not only is it likely to take up space which someone else could be using, but there’s also a chance that the food will start to turn bad before you return. This then leaves your colleagues to deal with the potentially thorny issue of whether or not to throw it away. It might also be worth asking catering equipment suppliers which types of kitchen equipment would be best suited to communal office usage.