Employee Uniforms? Here are the Pros and Cons for Your Small Retail Business

require employee uniforms

You’ve spent years building your small retail business up and might be considering employee uniforms as a next step. Like everything else, you’ll need to carefully consider both pros and cons before making any final decisions.

Pros and Cons of Employee Uniforms

Pro: Enhanced Customer Service  

Customers want to be able to tell the employees from their fellow customers, especially when they need help finding a product or service. Consistency is key here. You don’t want to get bogged down interpreting what’s allowed and what isn’t by way of jeans and other accessories.

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Pro: Brand Reinforcement  

Beyond enhanced customer service, employee uniforms reinforce your brand. The back of vests is a great place to reinforce the logo or slogan you use across other mediums. Name tags are another excellent place to boost your brand.

Pro: Increased Team Spirit

Many employees get a sense of belonging and team spirit when you ask them to wear a uniform.  Employees who wear uniforms also feel solidarity with each other and share a desire to work toward common goals.

Pro: Better Employee Safety

The right kind of uniform can increase employee safety. For example, bright clothing makes workers easily identifiable when shipments are arriving and shelves are being stocked.

Pro: Reduced Employee Expense

If your small retail business provides uniforms, it cuts down on employee expenses and furthers their sense of loyalty. Employees no longer need to focus on what to wear for work or on having to own a sufficient number of outfits appropriate for the workplace.

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Cons: Employee Resistance

One of the problems you may face when trying to institute a uniform policy at your retail business is simply employee resistance. Not everyone will like the style or color of the uniform or even the basic idea of having to wear one. Stressing the cost savings in wear and tear on personal clothing is a way to smooth over any individuality concerns.

Cons: Increased  Business Costs  

While supplying uniforms for your employees will certainly reduce their work costs, it will definitely increase yours. If you’re small retail business is looking to implement uniforms, be sure to add the cost into your budget. Include the projected cost of uniform replacement and new uniforms for new employees. If you plan on trying to get your employees to pay for their uniforms, expect some resistance.

Cons: Lost Time  

The change over time from street clothes into uniforms can take time and cost you in lost productivity. If you allow employees to take their uniforms home and wear them into work, you could be looking at higher expenses in repairs and replacements.

Cons: Religious Affiliations

Retail is an industry attracting a diverse employee base. One of the roadblocks to consistent uniform policy can be religious beliefs. For example, some religions will have special head coverings that won’t allow for company hats and visors.

Small retail stores need to understand their employee base before designing any of these uniforms. An employee questionnaire can help head off any potential issues.

Cons: Restricted Individuality

Looking like everyone else isn’t for everybody. In fact, some employees who like to express themselves may act out in other ways wearing outlandish makeup, jewelry or hairstyles in an effort to stand out.

Cons: Restricted Mobility

Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to uniforms can restrict worker mobility and hinder performance in the long run. Remember to look for a uniform that’s specifically designed for your industry. Badly designed clothes can actually hinder your brand identity or even be unsafe if they’re inappropriate for your workspace.

Photo via Shutterstock


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

3 Reactions
  1. It helps in managing what they wear and it looks unified. But it is also a cost that you have to shoulder.

  2. Uniforms can help but some employees just don’t like it. But it solves the problem of what they should wear daily for they already have uniforms.

  3. Uniforms are quite common in different industries. You have to qualify the nature of your business. If it is mostly creative, then uniforms can hinder you. Other than that, you can use it.