Uniforms impart a distinctive character to a workforce. But, how about uniforms that allow an employee to display his individuality?
Employees of Amara Raja Group can take their pick from a rack of five uniforms, each designed to display a quality that the organisation wants to reinforce among its workforce.
The organisation promotes what it calls ‘The Amara Raja Way’ which is paved with five values — innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, experience, responsibility and excellence. Uniforms in colours of burgundy, orange, blue, green and magenta represent these qualities, respectively. All the uniforms have a common tag line — “Gotta be a better way”.
Each of these uniforms connotes other positive qualities — to give an example, the orange uniform also signifies a creative state of mind — and these associations are duly communicated to employees.
An employee is free to choose his uniform. He can also go in for all five of them, choosing to wear the uniform that best describes the state of his mind on a given day.
“By choosing a uniform for the day, an employee can show others the value he/she wants to focus on through the day. Through this initiative, we mange to reinforce the values that the organisation stands for,” says Jaikrishna B., president-group HR, Corporate Communications and New Business Development, Amara Raja Group.
There are organisations today that are willing to invest in uniforms, bringing on board designer labels. For, they see a uniform as a vehicle for conveying what the brand stands for.
Last year, five lakh employees had a taste of haute couture as they were given uniforms designed by acclaimed fashion designer Ritu Beri.
Discussing the uniforms, which had Indian culture as their theme, Beri said that the design sought to give a modern look without compromising on the traditional. The uniforms were designed to look attractive and also be impactful and comfortable, she added.
Hotels have a strict dress code for its employees. Now, some of them are relaxing their stand and discarding uniformity for variety and colour. At Andaz, a luxury lifestyle hotel run by Hyatt in Delhi, employees get to choose from a set of uniforms that are in line with their personalities.
According to various studies, uniforms can say a lot about an organisation. Kaustav SenGupta, associate professor, NIFT Chennai, who has worked with Hyundai, Amara Raja and BSNL to design their uniforms, says that through an elegantly designed uniform, a company can tell the world that it is more organised.
“It is one of the factors that help a company get new clients,” he says.
Shweta Sharma, co-founder and CEO, Ombré Lane, says in the fashion, hospitality and airline industries, uniforms are part of the philosophy that goes with the brand.
Sharma says leading cosmetic brands have their store associates follow two different dress codes — one for the weekend and the other for weekdays.
The importance of a powerful and multifaceted dress code is widely accepted.
“We are increasingly seeing many smaller companies seeking professional help to frame their dress code,” says SenGupta. At Carborundum Universal Limited, a part of Murugappa Group, the saris are selected every year for women employees, factoring in weather, durability, colour and convenience.
This is the age of flat organisational structures, and creating a corporate culture where this value is appreciated depends partly on the humble uniform.
At TVS Motor Company, every employee, from the one on the shop floor to the Chairman, has to wear a white shirt and a pair of blue trousers.
“While the choice of uniform holds limited significance in terms of the company’s personality, it plays a crucial role in removing all visual representation of hierarchy and helps bring teams together in pursuit of a common vision,” says R AnandaKrishnan, senior vice-president, HR and IT, TVS Motor Company.