Clothing has provided us with an external skin of not just protection, but the luxury of non-verbal communication. Never has it been more expressive, versatile, global or personal. Some hoteliers have adapted uniform styles to make employees feel more comfortable on the job, appeal to guests and employees of all generations, and match the vibe of the hotel’s environment. With the number of millennials in the workforce growing, some hotel companies are updating their uniforms to boost employee morale, increase employee retention, and attract younger, casual and creative guests, according to sources.
“Oftentimes, you go to hotels and the employees are wearing uniforms that aren’t representative of their personal style,” Parkinson said. “So instead of just giving them one type of tie and one type of shirt, we gave them multiple color ties, multiple color shirts, so that way, it’s all uniform, but it also allows them to express themselves personally.”
Likewise, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids in Michigan is known for its younger staff and approachable luxury style, according to GM Brian Behler. Uniforms at the hotel changed from dark suits with ties to more fashionable suits with colored pocket squares to give employees a more humble look, Behler said.
Millennial style translates to other generations
Many millennials inhabit the Hilton West Palm Beach hotel in terms of staff and guests, but Parkinson said the property employs other generations as well, and that was top of mind when deciding on an appropriate uniform style for everyone.
Before the hotel opened, Parkinson said executives traveled to Manhattan to study the style of local bartenders at chic bars in the city. Once the fashion research was completed, valets at the Hilton West Palm Beach were given black shell-top shoes; bartenders received leather vests; and baristas were given flat caps to wear as part of their uniforms.
Better uniforms improve employee morale
Based on employee feedback, sources agreed that employees felt better in their uniforms, which led to better customer service for guests. Parkinson said the uniforms benefit employees and guests. “I think (the uniforms) are a benefit for our guests because the customers come in, they see it and it feels fresh; it feels good,” Parkinson said. “The team members are comfortable in what they wear.”
When asked if changing the uniforms helped attract, retain or boost morale for employees, Behler said, “yes to all.”
“(Employees) definitely have appreciated having different styles to work with,” Behler said. “We made the change, literally, just to give some flexibility and some different options because we’re always looking to be a little different at our property.
Getzova said Hotel Indigo’s trendy uniforms have helped boost employee self-confidence.
“I started at the front desk. I had an ugly uniform, and I couldn’t wait for the shift to be over so that I could change into regular clothes,” Getzova said. “Here, it’s exactly the opposite. Employees can literally go about the rest of their day in their uniforms because it looks good.”