Could a Uniform Program Help Your Team Avoid Decision Fatigue?

One less decision each day may help with productivity

Employee holds clean, laundered, company shirt
Offering uniform programs may help alleviate decision fatigue.

WILMINGTON, Mass. () - The benefits of managed business uniform programs are many: they create a positive business image; build brand awareness; foster team spirit; and can instill a sense of pride and responsibility. However, there may be one more benefit to providing a managed uniform program: it's one less daily decision employees have to make, which, as it turns out, may be beneficial to their overall mental capacity on the job.

Scientists have identified a psychological phenomenon called decision fatigue. Tied directly to willpower, decision fatigue theorizes that a person's willpower and decision-making capabilities decrease as they are forced to make an increasing number of decisions throughout the course of the day. It isn't a physical fatigue, but rather a mental fatigue. The result? As it becomes more difficult to make choices, a person will begin to look for shortcuts, whether it is choosing too quickly and not considering the consequences of decisions made, or forgoing making a decision altogether and doing nothing. Studies have shown that this is why shopping for clothes and groceries can be so exhausting and why judges often give harsher rulings later in the day.

Decision fatigue affects on-the-job production, too. A person's productivity can ultimately suffer as a result of the mental fatigue experienced by making what are perceived as insignificant decisions – the stress caused every day by things, even as simple as what to wear or eat, makes people less efficient at work. The simple act of making decisions negatively affects the ability to make further decisions.

So how could a uniform program help with decision fatigue? Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Kors all have one thing in common. It's not their vision or leadership, although they each may have one or both. These four highly successful people wore or wear nearly the same outfit to work every day. A black mock turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers; a gray or blue suit; a grey T-shirt and hoodie; a black jacket, black T-shirt, and jeans. Whatever the uniform, these men chose to wear one. And scientific research seems to support their decision to abandon the daily fashion choice. As President Obama said in a Vanity Fair article, “You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

“The best advice out there suggests people should simplify their lives whenever possible by minimizing decisions that concern less important things,” said Adam Soreff, director of marketing and communications at UniFirst Corporation, a leading company that provides work uniforms and business services to diverse industries throughout North America. “That includes planning your repeated daily decisions the night before – like what to eat or what to wear to work the following day. Businesses offering a managed uniform program for employees remove at least one of those decisions for them five times a week, 52 weeks a year. It may not sound like much, but it can go a long way.” It's about encouraging the conservation of mental energy for more important decisions, for higher levels of productivity.

But the benefits of uniform programs go well beyond eliminating one minor daily decision for employees. “There's another huge advantage gained by employees wearing customized uniforms – and people like Jobs and Zuckerberg likely knew this – it's about their brand identity. Consistency builds brands and brand awareness, and that's good for the bottom line.”


About UniFirst

Headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF) is a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniform and workwear programs, as well as the delivery of facility service programs. Together with its subsidiaries, the company also provides first aid and safety products, and manages specialized garment programs for the cleanroom and nuclear industries. UniFirst manufactures its own branded workwear, protective clothing, and floorcare products, and with over 225 service locations, 275,000 customer locations, and 12,000 employee Team Partners, the company outfits more than 1.5 million workers each business day. For more information, contact UniFirst at 800.455.7654 or visit www.unifirst.com.

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