Tackling the tricky issue of an employee with body odour

  • Home
  • News
  • Tackling the tricky issue of an employee with body odour

As an HR consultant, I am sometimes faced with a sensitive issue that needs addressing in the workplace – such as an employee with body odour. In this article, I offer a way forward for employers who wish to deal with the problem professionally.

When you receive a complaint about an employee, you need to act quickly but carefully. Not dealing with the problem can have negative repercussions on your workplace dynamics, which can cause friction and hurt productivity. However, you need a careful and empathetic approach to maintain professional standards if you want to avoid costly legal complications.

Here are a few key steps to consider:

Arrange a meeting

Initiating a conversation about body odour requires strategic planning. Opt for a private setting, preferably at the end of the working day, allowing the employee to leave promptly without feeling self-conscious. From the beginning, reassure the employee that the discussion will remain confidential. Emphasise that your goal is to address the issue discreetly and without unnecessary attention.

Choose a direct, tactful tone

Approach the topic with directness, but choose your words carefully. Instead of using harsh terms, such as “repulsive”, opt for more neutral language like “noticeable odour” to convey the message without causing unnecessary embarrassment.

Avoid placing blame on others or turning the conversation into a workplace gossip topic. Take ownership of the issue by expressing that you have personally observed the noticeable odour.

Handling pushback and concerns

Prepare for resistance and be ready to explain why addressing the issue is essential. Highlight the potential impact on the business and emphasise your concern for both the employee’s wellbeing and the overall work environment.

Move the conversation on to the potential reasons behind the body odour. It could be a medical condition, cultural differences, or personal challenges. Understanding the root cause is crucial for handling the matter appropriately and avoiding discrimination claims.

Find a positive solution

Work with the employee to find a suitable resolution. The employee may be unaware of the issue and open to making adjustments. Offer advice or support, and if necessary, suggest a visit to their GP to explore any underlying health concerns.

Conclude the conversation on a positive and reassuring note. Mention that there is a solution to the body odour issue and express gratitude for their understanding. Encourage them to reach out if they have further questions or need assistance.

Prevention measures

Following the conversation, assess the employee’s response and take appropriate steps. In most cases, a simple conversation may resolve the matter. However, if the problem persists without valid reasons, it may escalate to disciplinary action, highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy work environment for all employees.

Consider implementing a clear policy on personal appearance that states the importance of good hygiene. Refer to this policy in initial discussions with staff, such as inductions, setting a standard for all employees and providing a foundation for addressing personal hygiene concerns.

Need advice?

Employee issues can be challenging, so businesses should seek professional advice. JT HRConsultancy is an established HR services company based in Bedfordshire with clients across the UK. If you need help of advice on an employment issue, call me on 07715 026128 or email jo@jt-hrconsultancy.com

Previous Post
Newer Post

No products in the cart.