As the saying goes, “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good.” That philosophy is what leaders at Houston Airport Systems hoped to inspire when they recently unveiled their fitted new uniforms for their employees.
The department is partnering with Cintas Uniform Services to develop and supply uniforms for 700 HAS employees.
“When we talk about international services and customer services, we want them to look and feel a certain type of way. We want them to have a pristine uniform that sets them apart from our stakeholders,” said Chansity Mitchell, HAS employee experience manager.
The uniform project had been in the works for about one year as part of the department’s re-branding campaign. Mitchell said she was working HAS’ chief of marketing on the campaign, but when she left, Mitchell found herself in charge.
“I got the project rolling and put all the pieces together,” she said.
The uniforms will come in the department’s official color schemes of greens, greys, blacks, charcoals, lavender and other neutral colors. They include button-down long and short-sleeved Oxford shirts, banded collar short-sleeved tunics, dark trousers and jackets. The material is comprised of a 60/40 polyester-cotton blend, which will help reduce sweating, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said HAS conducted the first uniform fitting July 20. They scheduled six days for the fittings which included makeup days starting at 4 a.m., conducting shifts at all three airports (Hobby, IAH-Bush, and Ellington).
The fitted uniforms also come in a variety of sizes. “We live in a world where everyone is not a size whatever … we have all different shapes and sizes. What I love about this program is that it’s accommodating every person. Everyone from a double extra small to a 9X is benefitting from this program,” she said.
HAS budgeted for the uniforms for the employees. They went through the certification funding process and received council approval for the purchase, Mitchell said. “It’s been a process,” she added.
Harleen Hines Smith, HAS chief human resource officer, described the new uniforms as a signature program in their re-branding campaign.
“One of the things that we are really proud of is we want to make sure our employees not only look professional and feel professional, but that they have this sense of pride in the way they carry themselves in the airport,” Smith said.
“We are trying to make sure that the experience the customer has when they see us is one that says, ‘Not only is the airport clean and they are taking care of us by supplying us with masks, but the employees are distinct from the airlines, and when I need help, I know this is a Houston Airport employee that I can go to and we will be able to help them maneuver through the airport’,” she said.
According to Mitchell, HAS employees will get 11 uniforms. They will also have a personalized laundry bag and a locker drop point. They will drop off the dirty uniforms at the drop point and get five new uniforms.
When those uniforms are dirty, they will bring those uniforms back to the drop point, turn them in for being laundered, and get their freshly laundered clean new uniforms that will be hanging in their personal lockers.
The laundry rotation will be done weekly. Smith said providing laundry services has additional benefits for HAS employees, particularly during the pandemic.
“We are proud of the fact that our employees will not have to worry about cleaning their uniforms. It’s not just about COVID, but there are other elements in the airport they will be exposed to,” she said. “We want to make sure that for their safety, they’re not going home and taking their clothes off and washing them with their other laundry that they’re doing at home.”
Both Smith and Mitchell said each employee’s garments will be specific to them and will include the employee’s name and barcode in the garments.
HAS Internal Communications Manager Luci Rodriguez said the department’s goal is to achieve five stars and enhance our passenger and customer experience. “By having new uniforms that distinguishes us among our partners and stakeholders, it will help us get to that five-star level,” she said.
For Mitchell, the new uniforms are about employees having a sense of pride.
“When they put on their uniform, I want to feel like, ‘man, I’m going to HAS. I love my job, I love what I do …’ they have a sense of pride in what they wear and as a result, they feel comfortable,” she said.