Uniforms have been bringing people together for hundreds of years. Here we look at how they help individuals to put differences aside and go the extra mile to achieve common goals for their organisation.
When we think of uniforms and their unifying effect, one of the first things we think of is sports teams. The first English footballers were wealthy men who could each afford to have their own tailor make them a shirt. As such, their uniforms weren’t exactly ‘uniform’, but they nevertheless fulfilled their purpose of enabling easy identification of fellow team-mates to pass the ball to.
For the spectators, players wearing uniforms helped them follow the game’s progress and know when to cheer for their side.
There’s anecdotal evidence that employees are thought to collaborate more effectively when wearing the same uniform. This makes sense as wearing the same uniform is a simple way of identifying that someone is ‘on your side’ – literally and metaphorically.
Uniforms quickly create a sense of belonging.
If you have offices in multiple locations but need employees to come together to collaborate, wearing a uniform can create an instant bond.In the 1900s football supporters began wearing scarves in their team’s colours so they could show their team spirit whilst keeping warm. Hand-knitted bobble hats followed in the 1960s. By the 1970s the first professionally produced replica jerseys were available to buy, allowing supporters to truly feel part of the team by wearing the same uniform as the players.
Individuals, with all their various personalities, beliefs and needs, are truly united through the loyalty, solidarity, and shared purpose that comes from visibly belonging together.
Belonging together is a key motivator. For example, it’s equally important to the players on the field that they feel part of the bigger team with their supporters, as they will play to their utmost ability for the fans’ benefit.
It’s not just the uniformity of wearing the same clothing which generates a feeling of togetherness, but the fact that uniforms can tap into tradition, with wearers being conscious that they form part of a history, and proud to carry it on.
Perhaps your sector has always worn uniforms, such as the education sector, or perhaps you can create a new uniform using traditional fabric from your area, or emblazon it with your historical steeped in history or even a slogan which references a proud history.
A sense of shared pride leads to greater engagement and loyalty for an organisation. Think about our national pride in Team GB at sporting events such as the Olympics, and how that pride – and enthusiasm – instantly arises at the sight of their Team GB uniforms.
Uniforms create equality. Research has proven that victimisation and bullying at school can occur based on appearance and designer clothing which singles children out by their economic status. When everyone dresses the same way, it’s a level playing field.
Thinking about sports teams, every member from the stars to the upcoming players, from the coaches to the physios, plays an equally important role in the game. Wearing identical uniforms reinforces the message that no one individual is more important than any other.
Success is achieved through true teamwork.
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