Clothes maketh the man (or woman). Does pharmaceutical workwear matter?
According to Desmond Morris, author of Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour, it is impossible to wear clothes without transmitting social signals.
What does this mean? Based on your outfit, people make judgements on credibility, likeability, education and trustworthiness.
In Morris’ study, some participants were shown photographs of a model dressed in different styles and were asked to appraise each one using adjectives.
Target subjects included students (judging what teachers wear) and patients (judging doctors’ attire).
The research found that the perception of professionalism and competency changed depending on what the model was wearing.
The last thing you need is for your clientele to view your staff as incompetent or unprofessional. This is why professional uniforms are essential for pharmaceutical workers in New Zealand.
Why Are Staff Uniforms Needed in the Pharmaceutical Industry?
Pharmaceutical Workwear Increases Credibility
Attire can affect the behaviour of others. For example, one study showed that people are more likely to respond to a request from someone in uniform than a request from someone not in uniform.
It makes sense that the style of dress influences patient-pharmacist relationships. It also affects relationships with other healthcare professionals.
Pharmaceutical Workwear Increases Safety
In an environment where hygiene is paramount, the right attire protects staff from any potential harm. There are strict hygiene rules in the pharmaceutical sector, and the right uniforms help the staff to follow them safely.
When your staff are the first line of defence against bacteria, it pays to have them well-equipped. Minimal, smart and bacteria-resistant clothing is your best bet.
In some organisations, pharmacists choose what they wear as long as they are presentable. If they wish, they can wear the same uniform as technicians (tunic tops and trousers). Identification badges, therefore, become their main means of identification as a pharmacist.
When pharmacists go into a room where a patient is in isolation, they wear an apron and gloves, while in infection outbreaks, they wear “theatre blues”.
Pharmaceutical Workwear Increases Trustworthiness
Consumers associate positive traits with uniformed employees. A uniform implies a higher work ethic and inspires a greater sense of trust and confidence.
When a consumer sees an employee in uniform, they feel like they will receive a better product and higher quality of service. With such positive results, it only makes sense to give your staff uniforms that help customers be identified as the hard-working individuals that they are.
The choice of colour also matters when picking uniforms for pharmaceutical staff. Would you trust a pharmacist in festive colours? A crisp white shirt or blouse adds an edge to casual dressing. Also, it adds customer trust in your staff’s professionalism. You need distinguishable professional garments to add points for believability.
How to Decide the Type of Uniforms Your Company Needs
Pharmaceutical journals and schools are debating the best attire for pharmaceutical practitioners. One size does not fit all. There are important considerations when selecting uniforms for your staff.
Assess Your Staff Work Demands
Do your staff members get in direct contact with customers? Consider uniforms that are simple enough to convey approachability. If your staff needs to go into a room where a patient is in isolation, provide aprons, gloves and identification badges.
If you decide to use the white coat as uniforms, ensure it is laundered. Daily cleaning is the best for infection control. In fact, the British Medical Association identified wearing white coats as a potential source of cross-contamination. This is due to their low frequency of getting washed.
The disappearance of white coats amongst the pharmaceutical fraternity is not just a matter of cleanliness. It signals a cultural shift that places the customer’s comfort as a priority.
Be Mindful of Design Needs
Since your staff members will spend all day in uniform, make sure it is easy to work in. Use high-quality poly-cotton blend fabric, best known to provide comfort, durability, and safety.
The cotton allows air to circulate, making the fabric breathable and perfect for hot workplaces. It is also odour-resistant and does not tear easily.
You need to protect staff from contamination or being sources of contamination.
Poly-cotton blend fabric is known to be long-lasting and strong. It is also wrinkle-free to keep your staff looking professional and neat throughout the day.
Consider Customer Expectations
To test the perception of a pharmacist’s competence based on attire, researchers did a study. They concluded that dress is not likely to influence a person’s evaluation of a pharmacist, especially when their performance is considered.
However, attire is an extrinsic cue likely to be used as a quality indicator when a consumer doesn’t have adequate information about intrinsic attributes. In other words, what a pharmacist wears may enhance the first impression.
On the flip side, a white coat may spell professionalism but intimidate patients. Staff on psychiatric or paediatric wards shun the white coat for this reason. It contributes to “white coat hypertension”, where blood pressure is elevated in clinical settings. This is due to the heightened anxiety of a customer during a consultation.
How to Find the Best Pharmaceutical Workwear Supplier
Pay Attention to the Fabric & Fit
If you wish to start a dress code, ensure it does not contravene the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) advises that general dress codes which conflict with religious requirements may constitute indirect discrimination.
For example, aside from a wedding ring, Hindu women often wear a necklace (mangal sutra) placed around their neck during the wedding ceremony. Some may find it distressing if not allowed to wear it at work unless the rule was for justifiable reasons.
What pharmacists wear could influence how they behave, as well as their service delivery. If they are not happy with their uniform, they are not going to perform as well. It is good to pay attention to the thoughts of your staff before enforcing a certain dress code. If possible, involve them in choosing their uniform.
The future of uniforms is evolving to simpler cuts and styles. Scrub suit-type garments that are casual and easy to wear may become more prevalent. An advantage is that these could be cheaper to provide than sets of shirts, trousers and coats. The fabrics used will change with technological advances.
When considering uniforms, remember that pharmacists come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Choose uniforms that work well with all these variations. A pharmacist’s uniform is part of a jigsaw and should slot in with the uniforms of other roles to give a complete corporate look. For smaller pharmacies, the pharmacist’s look could be more focused and individual.
Maintenance and Laundering Processes
It is best practice for employers to provide and maintain uniforms for their staff. Create a system that separates clean and soiled uniforms. It improves staff morale and productivity when you remove the stress of managing uniforms.
Use locker systems from reputable suppliers like Alsco NZ, which provide enough space to store uniforms and other items. They are made out of a sturdy and durable material that is easily cleaned and maintained.
Alsco NZ takes the soiled uniforms and refills the lockers with clean, pressed uniforms on a regular basis. Increased convenience is always worth it.
These locker systems also provide much-needed hazard management. Prevent cross-contamination in the handling and transportation of soiled uniforms by using special laundry bags for dirty uniforms and separate lockers for storing them. Add separate carts to transport them.
Legal Compliance With Pharmaceutical Standards
The global pharmaceutical industry has a tough regulatory framework. It is common to hear regulatory bodies taking strict actions against companies who fail to meet hygiene standards. Manufacturers need to ensure suppliers understand these high hygiene standards.
Using a supplier who’s always up to date with regulation relieves the burden of designing and purchasing workwear. There is no compromise on safety or hygiene. Alsco NZ has been at it for over 125 years and will save you the trouble and headache of maintaining such logistics.
When hygiene is your biggest concern, you need to pick partners that understand what they need to do to serve you. The pharmaceutical industry is critical and sensitive in the fight against contamination. Don’t let uniforms get in the way of serving your customers to the best of your ability.
Alsco NZ’s managed rental service is fast, affordable and reliable anywhere in New Zealand. The uniforms arrive at your doorstep as often as you need them. We also style and brand your uniforms to your specifications. At your request, we can also colour-code them.
Alsco NZ is ultra-modern, ultra-hygienic and the ultimate partner for you.