From soft linens and towels to 24-hour room service, hotels go above and beyond to ensure every guest feels comfortable. But is that same attention to detail extended to all of its employees? Housekeepers, the often invisible heroes of the hospitality industry, work quickly to transform messy rooms into spotless havens within a matter of minutes. If housekeeping staff feel uncomfortable in their work apparel in any way, it can be difficult for them to work efficiently and effectively.
When employees wear well-designed apparel that performs properly, they project confidence. That confidence from something as simple as looking good and feeling good often leads to enhanced performance and productivity. It’s important for hotel managers to understand the importance of comfortable work attire, and how to find the most suitable options available today.
The Importance of the Right Fit
A day in the life of a housekeeper could include anything from walking up and down long hallways, making hundreds of beds, replacing linens and toiletries, sanitizing surfaces, switching out large loads of laundry, and bending over and picking up heavy objects–and that’s just scratching the surface. With so many physical demands of the job, housekeeping apparel must be durable enough to withstand constant movement but remain lightweight and breathable.
According to a recent Journal of Hotel & Business Management study, hospitality employees ranked comfort, overall fit, functionality, appropriateness for the job role, and upkeep as the top five most important features that make an effective uniform. This data not only shows how work apparel influences overall job satisfaction but gives insight into what employees need out of their garments. Thanks to innovative designs and advanced technology, employee apparel can now be durable, functional, and most importantly, comfortable.
Shopping around for a new apparel program for housekeeping staff can be somewhat daunting due to numerous options and employee preferences. To ease the search, make sure to look for these key elements as you work with your apparel provider.
In the past, lightweight garments often meant the fabric was weak and could easily tear, quickly losing its value and overall image. Today, lightweight doesn’t have to compromise durability. Look for apparel that delivers ultralight performance and is light in weight as well.
For employees who live in motion, garments must work with them, not against them. Today, some work apparel features a mechanical stretch so that its fibers will not break down after multiple uses, making it easy to work and ensuring a long lifespan.
The core function of housekeeping includes constant movement such as bending, lifting, and walking. Moisture management options aid in the overall comfort of this job function. Look for apparel that mixes cooling mesh and high-tech fabrics with moisture management to offer employees ultimate comfort in any climate.
Garments with moisture-wicking capabilities not only help employees feel comfortable throughout a long workday but also maintain their appearance. Modern features like zip closures, angled pockets, and action-back ventilation are also beneficial and increase functionality.
For properties with employees who occasionally work outdoors, it’s important that their apparel is versatile and provides superior protection from the elements. Look for apparel programs that include options for summer and winter, and feature fabric that has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating finish of 30 or more.
By providing employees with fashionable clothing options—like a lightweight tunic with purposeful design details—a hotel embraces personal style while enhancing employee comfort and confidence. Additionally, the Athleisure trend can easily be incorporated in fashionable and functional housekeeping attire. To increase overall brand image and create an organized look that extends from housekeeping to front desk staff, it’s important to find an image provider that can incorporate the brand’s colors, logos, and designs throughout an apparel collection.
The balance of function and fashion should be top of mind when creating an apparel program. It’s not enough for a garment to look good; it must also perform well in the workplace. Advances in apparel technology have enabled manufacturers to create garments with fast-drying, soil-release, and moisture-wicking capabilities—perfect for occupational athletes, such as housekeepers. In addition, large pockets with zippers and multiple compartments bring increased functionality to garments.
Unified by Comfort
Hospitality employees play a crucial role in representing and upholding the reputation of a lodging establishment. In particular, housekeepers represent the cleanliness of a hotel, and if they are seen in dated, stained, wrinkled, or unfit apparel, it can reflect poorly on brand image and lower employee morale. Choosing to provide employees with the same level of comfort that guests receive is a great way to show appreciation for hardworking staff, as well as establish a unified and professional image throughout the property.
About the Author
Kristin Sharp is the Director of Design & Merchandising for Cintas Corporation.