With security becoming even more of an imperative in South Africa, what role do uniforms really play? Interestingly, everyone who participated in the annual Sparks & Ellis uniform survey agrees that security officers should wear uniforms. The survey set out to establish industry opinions on the impact of guarding uniforms on employee professionalism.
The majority of the SA Security Association members who responded to the 2015 Sparks & Ellis Uniform Survey say that even more respondents than last year believe that uniforms are critical and that ‘plain clothed’ security is not an option currently.
Other findings reveal that despite everyone wanting a uniform, most believed that more attention (92%) and budget should be allocated to uniforms, that they should take seasonal changes into consideration and that uniforms should be issued on an annual basis.
Sparks & Ellis’ Sue de Wet says these findings are invaluable. “We can help our clients plan more effectively. Last year, many of the survey respondents were concerned about the cleanliness and smell of uniforms, and this year 60% of respondents feel that uniforms should be easy to maintain and keep clean. We made some improvements in response to the survey findings and this is showing in this year’s results.”
As might be expected, most respondents said that uniforms provide a significant financial saving for employees who do not have to purchase their own clothing for work. They also agree that the uniform instils a sense of pride in the wearer and that, in turn, uniforms are a reflection of the level of service provided by the company. Most respondents felt more attention and budget should be placed on uniforms (92%) and that this will in turn contribute to the promotion of a company’s image.
Nearly 90% of respondents say durability is critical. While the technology is available – and at a price, of course – more respondents were satisfied with specifications as long as the uniforms are worn with pride. de Wet adds, “It’s fairly typical that some of the findings almost contradict themselves. Everyone wants a better and improved product but often that is not reflected in their budgets.”
Over three-quarters of the survey sample believe that there should be more differentiation in uniform style and colours in order that the uniform is more distinct from others. However, de Wet says the situation in the market often does not reflect this attitude.
“In the security industry we often see alarming levels of inconsistency. Uniformed organisations should have a few standard uniforms with consistent colours and branding. If companies buy different items of uniforms from different suppliers this adds to the “smartie box appearance.” As much as a uniforms instils a sense of pride, it should also bring a sense of unity and belonging so that everyone is seen as members of one team. In our next survey, we will explore this further and find out how security companies feel about their image being portrayed in an inconsistent way.”