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Do you believe that students should wear uniforms? It's kind of a sticky issue. For parents and students, it leads to complicated debates about grades and expression of individuality. For everyone else, it tends to be a rather boring topic. Well, even business owners might want to take note of school uniforms. A recent study has shed some interesting insight into the subtle psychology behind uniforms.
Elisabetta Gentile and Scott A. Imberman published a paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research to "assess how uniforms affect behavior, achievement and other outcomes" in the school system.
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Many people believe that school uniforms increase grades. As it turns out, that isn't exactly true. The researchers found evidence that school uniforms increase attendance by as much as 0.3 to 0.4 percent, but they don't have a direct impact on grades.
What can business owners take from this study? It's hard to say because all we can do is speculate. Based on this study, it's unreasonable to assume that giving your employees a uniform will suddenly make them better workers. But it might still have a positive impact on your employees in other ways.
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Will a company-wide uniform make your employees less likely to call in sick? Will they spend less time slacking and more time working? Well... possibly. School uniforms improve the attendance rate of students, so that same tendency towards involvement might translate over into the business world. Uniforms have also been found to increase graduation rates, which could mean that uniforms make people more driven to succeed.
What's particularly interesting about this study is that these findings primarily apply to female students. Young girls attended school more regularly, but the uniforms had no apparent impact on young boys. Gentile and Iberman don't speculate as to why that would be, but it shouldn't really matter. If uniforms statistically make half of your employees more attentive, then who can argue with that?
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I don't want to be too misleading with this information. A uniform probably won't be a magical panacea that will transform your workers into model employees, but you can expect uniforms to have a noticeable, positive effect in their behavior. And that's in addition to all of the other benefits that come from having a uniform -- they advertise your brand, they make your employees appear more authoritative, they promote a corporate identity, and a whole host of other benefits.
Here's what it all boils down to: uniforms do help your business. We've always known that uniforms help to advertise your brand, but studies like these are just beginning to help us understand the deep, psychological factors that influence how we view uniforms. The results may sometimes be surprising (I expected the results to say that uniforms improved grades), but they are almost always positive.
Don't miss out on the untapped potential of a company uniform. Ordering a custom embroidered uniform might cost you a few bucks now, but it will undoubtedly pay off in the long run as those uniforms foster health, productive attitudes for your employees.