For many organizations, the security team plays a critical role in setting expectations and creating initial impressions. What security officers wear matters as much as how they wear it. This article explores the wide range of uniform variations, factors that influence the uniform selection, and the importance of maintaining appearance standards.
Different Uniforms, Different Functions
Years ago, security uniforms were, well, uniform. Reminiscent of police and military uniforms, the attire was fashioned of dark fabric and often sported a badge, along with bars and other insignia conveying rank and authority. Similarities to the uniforms worn by peace officers were designed to inspire the same respect for—and to cultivate the same trust in—private security personnel.
And it works. That’s why many organizations continue to favor the paramilitary uniform style, which creates a highly visible security presence meant to reassure employees and visitors while deterring potential wrongdoers.
Modern security personnel are just as likely to wear blazers or polo shirts. Companies often want to create a friendlier, more welcoming atmosphere by making security officers approachable. A uniform consisting of slacks, dress shirt, tie and blazer looks polished and professional, setting a tone of quiet authority that works well in an office building or museum, for instance. But this corporate look might look out of place in a business with a casual dress code; in such environments, knit shirts and khakis could be more suitable.
Choosing a uniform goes beyond aesthetics, however; it’s ultimately a strategic decision that balances client goals and practical considerations with the requirements of the specific security position(s).
The Strategy of Security Uniform Selection
From paramilitary uniforms with shiny brass buttons to t-shirts and shorts, uniform catalogs offer diverse, customizable options to meet every need. Answering a few key questions quickly narrows down the wide array of choices.
- What are the organization’s goals? Increased security is a given, but what are the other objectives? At a house of worship, for instance, a uniform of khakis and a polo contributes to a low-key security presence that reassures—but doesn’t intimidate—congregation members and visitors. A residential building or community, on the other hand, may prefer a more professional look, which combines the desire to make residents and their guests feel comfortable with the need to project authority when managing contractors or responding to incidents on site.
- What are the job responsibilities? A white shirt with slacks may be classic, but it may not be practical in a distribution center or for outdoor patrols. Consider where security employees will work and under what conditions. Colleges and universities often have security personnel who patrol the campus on bicycles; such positions call for high-visibility uniforms, which make it easy for students and motorists to spot these individuals.
- What are the budget considerations? Uniforms can be customized to meet any specification—for a cost. Ordering blazers or knit shirts to promote the organization’s brand will look nice, but going this route will require planning ahead to ensure uniforms are available for new hires or temporary personnel. Choosing from uniform options offers greater flexibility if a special event requires expanding the security team, for example.
Whatever the organization’s needs and priorities, a responsible security partner will provide guidance in selecting the right uniforms for daily wear, as well as for inclement weather.
The Importance of Maintaining Uniform Standards
Adherence to uniform standards is equally important as uniform selection. Standards go beyond specific garments to encompass the overall presentation of the security officer, from personal grooming to the condition of footwear. A lobby officer with an untucked shirt and rumpled pants can undermine the impact of gleaming marble and polished brass.
When evaluating the quality control standards of a security provider, organizations should ask what measures are in place to maintain uniform standards. At Sunstates, uniforms are one of several criteria evaluated on an ongoing basis, from daily roll calls and weekly inspections to regular visits by senior management. An organization in Charlotte conducted an audit and requested information about inspections, including frequency and inspection criteria. Within hours, Sunstates provided documentation that included time stamps and photographs.
Ultimately, uniforms play a critical role in security. From setting the tone for employees or guests to influencing how security personnel feel about themselves and their responsibilities, uniforms help lay the foundation for a successful program.
Sunstates Security provides expert security for organizations of all types in urban and suburban settings. To discuss the benefits of our approach or to review your current security needs, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or contact us.