Can’t tolerate a coworker's awful odor?
Finding a way to approach the coworker about their body odor is easy. Doing that without hurting the employee's delicate feelings is more difficult.
This topic is personal and sensitive.
To avoid sounding rude, before telling your coworker straight in the face about his hygiene issue, consider a few important things.
Ask yourself these questions.
Should you approach the smelly employee by yourself or should you ask the HR manager to deal with it? How to arrange a meeting with your coworker? How to start the conversation with the smelly employee?
Start by planning your approach first.
Approaching a coworker about their body odor
Basically, there are two ways of dealing with a smelly employee at work. There is an indirect way and there is a direct way.
1. The indirect way
If you are more tolerant of the smelly employee's issue that you can go with the indirect way. This means trying to leave him hints, clues, and reminders about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene at work.
This is a smart way of dealing with a coworker’s body odor because after that you have a bigger chance of maintaining a good friendly relationship.
In the perfect scenario, the employee would notice the hidden messages and would pay more attention to his hygiene. In this way, the smelly employee would start getting showers before coming to work or change his clothes more often.
For example, here are a few hints you can try sending:
- Send a reminder about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and grooming company standards to maintain the health and safety of all employees.
- Send funny memes about smelly employees. For example, memo’s representing coworkers who hold their breath or eye-watering when being close to the smelly employee.
- On the office walls, place inspirational quotes and posters about personal hygiene and cleanliness in the office.
The problem with the indirect way of dealing with body odor in the workplace is the low-efficiency rate. Not all employees realize those general personal hygiene issues messages.
In such a case, you need to have the guts and tell the employee that he stinks or that he needs to take a shower.
2. The direct talk with the smelly employee
Having a direct talk with the BO issuer removes the guessing about the smelly offender in the office.
Now, he realizes that all eyes are on him, which may affect that coworker’s delicate feelings.
The problem is that you don’t know what his reaction will be after telling him about his body odor issues. The employee might take it too personally or consider this a way of intimidating or harassment upon him.
So, before you approach a co-worker about his hygiene issue in a direct way, take into consideration a few important things.
2.1 Decide whether you want to bring the HR's attention to this issue or do it by yourself
If you have the guts to speak with your coworker about his body odor be aware of his reaction after that. It might be an unexpected one.
An adequate employee would be thankful for letting him know about his hygiene issue because he wants to be a good team player in the company.
If this is the case, go for it.
But if the smelly coworker is difficult to manage try addressing this problem through the help of the HR manager. He will make the body odor issue a professional working environment problem avoiding touching the delicate personal feelings.
If the employee is still ignorant, the HR manager can penalize him for not following the health and safety standards mentioned in the workplace policy.
2.2 How to talk to an employee about body odor
Whether you are an employee or an HR manager, avoid making the employee body odor a public matter. This will only worsen the situation.
And as a result, the company may lose a good employee.
Instead, invite him to a face-to-face conversation in a neutral place, without other coworkers. Start the conversation in a friendly manner and set a polite tone.
Tell him that, you don’t mean to hurt him but you noticed lately that his body smells strong and you thought of letting him know about this before coworkers begin talking about this behind his back.
Ask him if the body odor can be fixed by improving personal hygiene or is this a matter of some kind of health disease.
Listen carefully to what the employee tells you.
You don’t need to tolerate offensive odors in the workplace.
The workplace should be a comfortable and safe environment for each member of the team.
If one of your coworkers smells too strong, let him know. But do it politely and professionally.
Send him hints about personal hygiene issues in an office or have a direct conversation with the employee.
You have the right to work in a comfortable and safe environment like any other coworker.