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Uniform thinking: where do you stand?

A recent NHF snapshot poll asked its members about staff uniforms and the volume of feedback, and the fervent differences in opinions took everybody by surprise.

If the thoughts of the more than 330 members who responded are anything to go by, the days of the salon and barbershop uniform may well be numbered – although 32% said yes, their staff wore the same style clothes in the same colour, almost 40% added that, even though they implemented a general salon dress code, their staff could still choose what they wore so long as it stayed within that brief. 19.5% of respondents went even further, saying they preferred to encourage their employee’s individuality and let their hairdressers and barbers wear what they like. Only beauty therapists seemed to receive the sharp end of the stick, with 10% saying they preferred their therapists to wear a uniform (presumably to give a more clinical appearance) but didn’t impose the same rule on their hairdressers.

As always, there are pros and cons to both sides: yes, a uniform might look more professional and reinforce the ‘brand’ of the salon, as well as having more practical considerations – protecting the employee’s regular clothes from splashes of hair dye and other wear and tear – but, since hairdressing and barbering are such profoundly creative industries, shouldn’t the stylist’s own individuality be encouraged? It is arguably harder to do that when everybody in the salon looks the same.

Of course, there is also simple economics – uniforms are expensive and although 82% of respondents whose staff wore a uniform said they provided it for their employees themselves, that still leaves a significant number of ‘uniformed’ salons who expect employees to pay for their uniforms out of their own wages. Not surprisingly, 21% said that staff didn’t want to do that.

It’s a knotty question – excuse the pun! – and the debate will no doubt continue to rage on, but what should never be forgotten is that every salon succeeds thanks to the talent, passion, dedication and expert training of its staff. Those are invaluable abilities and character traits we should always encourage and set at the forefront of our businesses and our industry, whether our hairdressers and barbers wear uniforms or not
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