Can’t tolerate your coworker’s bad body odor anymore?
Think about telling your coworker about their body odor. Ask them to do something about it because it hurts the comfort of the entire office.
Easier said than done.
The problem is how to approach a coworker about their body odor without hurting his delicate feelings.
The topic of personal hygiene issues in the office is sensitive. So, you need to take a few things into consideration before you tell a coworker that they smell bad. Otherwise, you will sound rude.
Start by planning your approach.
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 main 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
You don’t tell your coworker, straight in the face, that he stinks.
You rather leave hints, clues, and reminders for the entire team about the importance of personal hygiene and cleanliness in the workplace.
As a result, the employee should become aware to check if his personal hygiene corresponds to the office standards.
If the employee can read these non-insulting hints and clues correctly, he can improve his personal hygiene and, as a result, he can prevent the general embarrassment of his coworkers.
For example, here are a few hints that the employee should pay attention to:
a) Send a reminder about the company’s wide personal hygiene and grooming standards;
b) Share through 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;
These clues should make a normal employee aware of the need to control his offensive body odor in the workplace.
However, this method has a major problem.
Some employees simply don’t realize that they smell, which makes this method inefficient.
In this case, you need to have the guts to speak up about this problem with your coworker.
2. The direct talk with smelly a employee
Having a direct talk with the BO issuer removes all the question marks about who is the offender in the office.
Your coworker may be surprised to find that he is the one who doesn’t control his body odor.
The problem is that this news may cause an unexpected reaction from your coworker.
Depending on his type of charachter he may feel intimidated, he may think that you are making a personal attack, or this is a form of harassment against him, etc.
The topic sensitive.
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 problem then you better be aware of the type of reaction he may have after that.
Generally, adequate employees are thankful for telling them about their bad breath or bad body odor. They do control their body odors because they want to be perceived as good team players inside the company.
So, if this is the case, go for it.
The worst is if your coworkers don’t tell you that you smell a little bit strong today. Going to a boss through an HR rather telling them directly would be kinda jerkish.
“Dude, just tell me. Not the whole world.”
But, if your coworker is difficult to deal wit,h 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 Set a one on one meeting with the coworker
Whether you are an employee or an HR manager who wants to approach an employee about his body odor issue avoid making it a public matter. This will worsen the situation which may bring unwanted consequences. The company may lose a good employee or he might think that you were too rude to tell him that publicly.
Instead, have a one on one conversation in a neutral place without other coworkers or ask him to wait after work.
In the absence of other coworkers it’s easy to have a friendly conversation.
You can start by saying that you don’t mean to hurt him but you noticed lately that he smells kinda strong and you thought of letting know about this before coworkers begin discussing this behind your back.
Ask him if the body odor issue can be avoided in the future. Does he need to improve his personal hygiene? Does he need to wash and change clothes more often? Or the body odor is caused by a medical problem?
Listen to what your coworker tells you.
You don’t need to tolerate offensive odors in the workplace. You have the right to work in a comfortable and safe environment as any other coworker.
If your coworker smells for quite a long time he might not feel his own smells.
Approach him about his body odor and let him know about this. Send him a hint or have a direct conversation with your coworker if you are good friends.
He may thank you for letting him know about the problem that is hurting the way he is perceived in the company, or if the coworker is ignorant to the general safety and health standards in the office the HR manager should decide whether the company need such employees.
Have you been in a similar situation? Share with me how you handled the smelly coworker issue.