Can’t tolerate your coworker's bad body odor? Thinking about asking him to do something about it?
The problem is approaching this coworker about his body odor without hurting his delicate feelings.
This topic is sensitive.
So, before you tell your coworker straight into the face about his hygiene issue you should take a few things into consideration. Otherwise, you risk to sound rude.
Start by planning your approach first.
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 an employee about their body odor?
Two ways how to approach a coworker about their body odor
Basically, you can tell a coworker about their body odor in two ways: in an indirect and in a direct way.
1. The indirect way: leave hints, clues and reminders
Don’t tell your coworker, straight in the face, that he stinks.
A smarter way to do that is by leaving him hints, clues and reminders about the importance of personal hygiene at work.
In the perfect scenario, the employee should understand your hidden message and pay more attention about his personal hygiene issue.
For example, here are a few hints that the employee should pay attention to:
a) Send a reminder about the company’s personal hygiene and grooming standards.
b) Share through an email funny memo’s about smelly employees.
c) Place on the office walls inspirational quotes and posters about personal hygiene and cleanliness in the office.
However, this method has a major problem.
Some employees simply don’t realize that they smell, which makes this method most of the time inefficient.
In this case, you need to have the guts to speak up about this problem with your coworker.
2. The direct talk with the smelly employee
Having a direct talk with the BO issuer removes the question about who is the offender in the office.
Your coworker may be surprised to find out that he is actually the offender.
The problem is that he might have an unexpected reaction after letting him know about his issue.
He might think you want to intimidate him or consider this a form of harassment upon him.
So, before you approach a co-worker about his personal hygiene issue 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 the type of reaction he may have after that.
Generally, an adequate employee is thankful for letting him know about his hygiene issue because they want to be perceived as a good team player in the company.
If this is the case, go for it.
But if your coworker is difficult to deal with you better address this problem through the HR manager.
The HR manager will make it an issue of a professional working environment.
If the employee is still ignorant, the HR manager can penalize him for not following the health and safety standards mentioned in the policy.
2.2 How to talk to an employee about body odor
Whether you are an employee or an HR manager who needs to approach an employee about his body odor issue, avoid making it 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.
In a friendly conversation, it’s much easier to 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 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 quite strong, let him know. But do it in a polite and professional way.
Send him hints about his hygiene issues or have a direct conversation with him.
You have the right to work in a comfortable and safe environment as any other coworker.