It’s difficult to work in the same area with a co-worker whose body odor makes your eyes watering.
Here is the problem.
An employee's poor personal hygiene increases the dissatisfaction of other employees at work. As a result, it decreases their performance and increases the number of complaints.
And I suppose that you don't like handling employee complaints. Especially, those when you need to have that "It's time to talk about your personal hygiene" type of conversations.
Though, as a manager of the team, you have to handle these problems. Because it creates a safe and healthy working environment and it lowers the number of employee complaints.
The question is how can you create such an environment in your office?
You need to clearly articulate why it is important that the entire staff maintains good hygiene.
Explain what kind of behavior is unacceptable at work. What are the dress code and appearance standards? And document all these rules in a company-wide hygiene policy.
Let me show you how.
The importance of good personal hygiene in the workplace
The main goal of the company is to convince clients to do business with them.
To do that, clients must feel comfortable while interacting with the company’s staff. In this case, the employees represent the image of the company. So, that's why it's important that your employees have good personal hygiene and appearance.
The hard truth is that employees don’t care about the company’s goal. They care about their wages and their comfort in the workplace.
Employees won't be motivated if you don’t fulfill their need to work in a safe and healthy environment.
That’s what they need to bring good results.
But first, you have to know what triggers these complaints.
Hygiene issues employees don’t tolerate
Some personal hygiene issues are not obvious at first sight, but some are impossible to tolerate.
And these are the type of habits you don't want to tolerate in your office as they are main source of employee complaints.
Here is what most employees consider offensive odors and habits in the workplace:
Now, that you know what causes complaint you can build your strategy on how to approach it.
How to approach an employee about personal hygiene issues
Imagine that one day an employee comes to you and complains about a smelly coworker.
How would you approach an employee about his body odor in a professional way?
Obviously, you don't want to be the messenger.
Don't be the person who passes the message from the office. It feels like the entire staff is talking about this behind his back and you are trying to be the good guy shifting the responsibility on them.
So, there is an indirect and a direct method to tell an employee that has personal hygiene issues which need to fix.
Leave hints, in the form of general messages, about the importance of personal hygiene in the workplace. Ask him to fix his personal hygiene issue by sending him indirect messages.
Your message can take the form of emails to the entire staff or hanging posters on the office wall with health and safety messages, etc.
Though, there is a problem with this method.
The protagonist of the story might not understand your message.
In this case, you might need to swallow your fear and have a direct conversation with the employee.
It means that you need to have a face to face conversation with the employee about his personal hygiene issues.
But you need to do it in a professional way to prevent any unwanted reactions from the employee.
Workplace hygiene policy
Having a face to face conversation about a personal hygiene is issue is a sensitive topic.
The employee might think that it’s too rude that you are telling him about this. He might want to leave the job or he might adequately accept the news and take necessary actions to fix his personal hygiene issues.
To avoid having the employee too embarrassed make it a company rule rather than a personal need.
That’s when a workplace hygiene policy comes in handy.
The policy should describe all the personal hygiene, dress code, and appearance standards for all employees for the duration of employment in the company.
The policy should clearly articulate that all employees must follow the company’s guidelines to promote the company’s image in the market.
In case, the employee doesn’t subordinate you can give him a penalty for not following good personal hygiene habits in the workplace.
Over to you
Managing employee complains is not fun, especially those related to personal hygiene issues.
So, to make your life easier you need to create a system of rules, or guidelines that everyone will follow in terms of personal hygiene.
In this way, you'll have fewer employees with personal hygiene issues which means that you'll have fewer sources for employee complains.
Now, I'm wondering how did you handle this kind of issues? How did you address employee complaints from employees regarding their smelly coworkers? Do you have a workplace hygiene policy that sets the standards employees grooming, dress code, and physical appearance?
Please share with us your experience.