By 2020, over a third of your staff may be composed of millennial employees. Will your image apparel keep up?

Attracting Millennial Employees and Customers With the Right Apparel

Leadership Employee Management

By 2020, over a third of the global workforce will be composed of millennial employees. Make sure their apparel keeps up with their contemporary standards.

Millennial employees — adults under the age of 35 years old — are taking over the workforce. According to a ManpowerGroup report, they will make up over a third of the global workforce by 2020. One of the most overt ways they’re changing work as we know it is actually cosmetic; as with the generations before them, millennials bring their own sense of style to the workplace and they want to reflect that style in their day-to-day look.

That means that, for many businesses, it may be time to give your employee apparel program an overhaul — or at least an update — with some new options. Image apparel should reflect the culture of your brand to your customers and make your employees feel great. For millennials in particular, there is a bit of the cool factor involved; according to a poll by online payroll provider SurePayroll, 50 percent of employees favored a more casual, self-expressive environment.

When considering bringing your apparel up to millennial standards, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Make Millennial Employees Part of the Process

Your millennial employees understand the need to put together a good look for their customers. However, their definition of attractive attire may be different from those of previous generations. Luckily, there’s usually a common ground to be found between the years, so be sure to get everyone involved in deciding what the new apparel program will be.

If there’s one thing that millennial employees want above all else, it’s to be empowered and included in decision making. Updating the apparel they have to wear every day is a perfect time to get them involved. Of course, you should also include other generations in the discussion, but make sure there’s proportional representation to the future realities of your workforce. If you let your retiring boomers make the call now, you’ll just be back to the drawing board in a few short years.

2. Give Them Options

Allow your millennial employees to express their personalities by offering a selection of different pieces to choose from and by giving them the flexibility to mix and match those pieces. For example, John Parkinson, general manager of the Hilton West Palm Beach in Florida, made a proactive push to go beyond the traditional uniform and offer multiple colors of ties and shirts to inspire a younger staff and attract a more diverse range of guests. You should also consider providing your employees with modern apparel options that are similar to what they would wear outside of work and the ability to incorporate additional accessories to make their uniforms their own.

3. Ask Your Customers

Before finalizing your choices, get your customers involved. Your most loyal customers will be a perfect gauge of how the purchasing public will respond to the new image not to mention a great early indicator if the apparel is way off base. Make it fun: Create a game on your website or in your brick-and-mortar locations where they can register a vote or offer suggestions of their own. Incentivize participation with prizes and make the unveiling of the new garments an event they can get involved in and you’ll cement their loyalty into the future. Bonus points if you make a consistent and successful social media campaign out of the voting and event, further boosting customer engagement.

When it comes to employee apparel programs, it takes a village — specifically one made of the people who will be wearing them and the customers that will have to see them — to find the right look for your business. Reach out to your staff and your audience to get feedback on the garments that will best serve your brand, keep you up-to-date and help employees feel great at work.

Karlyn Borysenko
Karlyn Borysenko

My goal is to make professional life better for individuals, and drive productivity and results for organizations. I fix the "people problems" and I help individuals build better working relationships across their organizations, navigate office politics, create a great organizational culture, build and lead more productive teams, and be great managers. I'm one of the few workplace bullying experts in the country and I can help individuals who have been targeted, or organizations who think they might have a bullying problem on their hands. And if you work in sales or fundraising, I can teach you how to "read" your prospects to increase your close rate and generate more revenue. I'm an MBA, a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (ABD), and a certified DiSC Trainer. I believe passionately that an organization's most valuable resource is its people, and that leaders have a responsibility to put structures, processes, and systems in place that will support employee success, development, job satisfaction, and organizational culture.