Last week we discussed the all-too-familiar and uncomfortable reality of distracting odors and scents in the workplace, but that begs the question: How does one address this specific, awkward issue with an employee who has unpleasant body odor?
First off, be aware that body odor can be caused by either poor personal hygiene or by a medical condition, but regardless of which, it is paramount to discuss the problem with confidentiality and sensitivity–be respectful of your employee’s dignity. We recommend taking the following steps should the need arise to have “the talk” with an employee about their body odor:
- Arrange a private meeting with the employee to bring the problem to their attention. Again, use a soft approach to begin with to ease into a possibly-embarrassing conversation.
- If necessary, refer to the company’s dress and grooming policy to highlight workplace expectations regarding personal hygiene.
- Use phrases that reflect the concerns from a business perspective, not a personal opinion.
- Be courteous and listen to any comments or suggestions by the employee on how to improve the issue.
- If needed, discuss permitting flexible restroom breaks for the employee to care for their hygiene needs throughout the workday.
- Consider the possibility of reassigning the employee to another location in the organization if they have direct contact with customers or clients.
It is not an easy discussion to have with an employee, but if you are up front and direct with addressing the issue (do not beat around the bush), while being courteous and understanding of the sensitive nature of the topic, you can avoid the pitfalls of possibly offending the employee and creating a situation that toes the line of harassment.
Simply remember to state the facts in a tactful manner, be open and considerate, refer to policies as needed, and give the employee time to remedy the odor problem on their own. If the problem persists, you may need to pursue another alternative, such as medical counsel, relocation, etc. The employee needs to understand, however, that this could effect their employment status; as sensitive of a topic that it may be, it is still a violation of company policy. If not resolved in a timely manner, or continues to effect overall employee work performance or productivity, it could lead to further disciplinary action and even termination.
What is your top priority at work? For your coworker, it may be a flexible work schedule that allows them the ability to leave work when their child is sent home sick. For a colleague, it may be an environment in which they feel respected, are challenged, and are able to grow. For others, important factors pertaining to their work may be a safe and welcoming work environment in which they are not bullied or controlled and are free to exercise their independence.
Everyone values something different. We are unique individuals and therefore, what we desire most in our work settings varies from person to person. Many people value multiple things, and it is almost impossible to cater to every single need, but it is important to be aware of what your employees value and make an effort to accommodate those needs.
Expressing interest in what your employees value makes them feel important. When employees feel that their values are a concern of yours, when they feel that you actually listen to what is important to them and to what they desire in their work environment, morale is improved which in turn can improve behaviors in the workplace.
Simple ways of expressing your interest and methods to make your employees feel important include:
- Literally and figuratively keeping your office door open. Let your employees know that you are always willing and able to listen to them and that you truly care about what is important to them.
- Schedule one-on-one meetings with your employees to discuss their values and to work towards meeting those needs.
- Involve your employees in planning and decision making. Once you have discovered what is important to them, work with them and make them a part of the process in ensuring that those values are met.
Valued employees tend to put more of an effort into their performance and are more invested in achieving higher standards. As a manager, it is your responsibility to try to increase your employee’s feelings of self-worth in the workplace. Increases in morale and positive behaviors are a direct result of making your employees feel important. Make it a daily goal to motivate and value your employees and see what outcomes you will experience in your own workplace.
It is a workplace issue that managers dread. Strong or excessive odors and fragrances are never welcome in the workplace, and some are certainly easier to discuss with employees than others. Whether the scent is caused by an individual wearing too much perfume or cologne, or emitting a strong body odor, managers need to know how to properly address and handle workplace odors. (more…)
When individuals start the ever engaging and entertaining journey that is job hunting, there are a number of factors that can make or break the desire to apply for a position. Employee benefits are a huge driving force behind job satisfaction, their value making the difference between an employee sticking around for the long haul or quickly searching for something else. (more…)
Fall is slowing creeping in on us. With the cooler weather comes crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, cold and flu season. Sick leave (or PTO) is a valued benefit for employees. Despite the expectations for quality attendance, employees get sick and need to take time off to accelerate their recovery and avoid the potential spread of illness. However, many organizations suffer from the abuse of sick leave which can translate to a decrease in productivity and potential loss to the bottom line. (more…)