K.C and the Sunshine Band

A local hospitality consultant sent through the case below.


A nearby restaurant was recently refurbished, and some locals invited friends to check it the new version. Both couples sat down and a nice young man about 30 years of age came and introduced himself. One of the wives said “Hello Mitch” as that is what his name card clearly said. He said no, my name is Casey, like K.C and the Sunshine Band. He then said that as he had lost his card a few days ago, he was just using someone else’s badge. One diner, although not offended thought, “If the restaurant is slack on name cards, what else will they be slack on? Maybe the chicken isn’t chicken, or the restaurant may be a bit too casual.” So it made an impression of the wrong sort.
What should the restaurant do if staff (mostly casuals) do not present with the correct uniform. One extreme policy would be to stand staff down until they get their uniform right, or perhaps some contingency plans could be arranged. Suggestions please….

Writer 1:

This problem can be addressed from a number of viewpoints. What we are seeing exhibited is a slack attitude towards the job. The company has signalled its intention regarding presentation by spending a lot of money rejuvenating the appearance of the business, so staff should recognise the importance of presenting a very professional image.  A thorough induction process should highlight the importance of presentation to restaurant staff, so standards and the rationale for high standards should be addressed at induction, with the manager responsible for maintaining standards. From Casey’s casual attitude it appears little was said about his lack of a correct name badge, and from the conversation it appears no disciplinary actions or serious communication were entered into regarding his appearance.
Recently a Price Waterhouse Coopers temp receptionist (Nicola Thorp) was sent home after refusing to wear high heels, and that case attracted a lot of negative publicity. (PWC was exonerated) This is supported by a recent study (California State University, 2015) which confirmed the idea that dressing professionally helps us behave more professionally
While it may seem easy to initiate a range of penalties, the effort required may not be worth it. However, there could be a flow-on effect with other workers. Incorrect attire could attract a penalty of a few dollars and the income from the penalties could go towards the costs of getting a new name badge done, hence a “user- pays” type arrangement. Chronically poorly dressed individuals would add to the dress fund and perhaps a ‘three strikes’ policy of three incorrect dress code violations attracting a higher order penalty, such as being stood down for a few days.
Such policies would help to reinforce the appearance requirements.
“The Cognitive consequences of Formal Clothing” Social Psychological and Personality Science. March 31, 2015


Under the Federal Award, if you lose part of a ‘Uniform’ that you signed for you almost certainly have to pay to replace it. But that not the real point, is it? It looks like the operation is a bit ‘lackadaisical’, so the owners might be very rarely there, or everybody became dispirited…
I would definitely check the oysters when they arrive: shiny is good, flat is bad. (Actually, I wouldn’t order anything that needs critical attention, like oysters.) Was the table moved when they mopped the floor, or did they just mop around it? Are the tines of the forks clean? How are the bathrooms? Window ledges dusty? ‘We don’t care’ attitudes are pervasive, and dangerous slackness bubbles to the surface in a range of places…..
Or, it could be just mucking around by exuberant staff: It’s the Gold Coast: Famous for FUN, remember? Have some fun! (But check the dust.)



First of all the restaurant should setup their work rules including about staff appearance.
The floor manager of the restaurant should check every staff member’s uniforms and appearance every day.
Additionally, the staff room or some space at the back should have a tall mirror, so every floor staff member can check how they look before working.
The floor manager has to explain what the standard of the restaurant is, and how they should serve and treat customers carefully. Also, the manager can have meetings to improve the quality of the restaurant, reviewing actual problems they had recently.
The restaurant could have something positive to maintain good staff appearance. It could be a meal voucher or something which you can get if your appearance is satisfactory all through the week or a certain period of time.



Uniforms are a great way for a business to present a professional image and to make their staff visible and of course follow the safety rules. In fact, many staff prefer a uniform to having to find something different to wear each day.  Having clear dress requirements in work contracts and codes of conduct will be enough to encourage most staff to dress appropriately, and Owners and Managers who lead by example will also help. But for those employees who turn up inappropriately dressed then the Business owner needs a plan B as it not always possible to stand staff down at the beginning of a busy shift. In this instance, for example, having a few spare shirts in the office is always an option.
However, if this behaviour continues the Business Owner may need to take other action, such as clearly explaining dress expectations before following a formal performance management process.
I think the most workable option for all parties, particularly in hospitality or other industries where employees change roles often, is to have a simple uniform, easy and relatively economical to purchase, easy to care for, comfortable for all sizes and shapes and appropriate for the climate.  If your staff feel comfortable they are more likely to comply with your needs for a professional and well-presented team.
Of course a business owner can also choose to supply uniforms that are only worn in the work place and which are returned at the end of a shift, but this comes with the overhead of laundering and storing all items of clothing and footwear.  Far too much hassle for most businesses.


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