[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
HRGravevine – Published: Tue, 8 Sep 2015 12:18pm BST
This article reminded me of the many times that I have advised clients on how to deal with this very difficult issue.
In my hospitality days I faced this very issue with an employee who continually came to work smelling of a strong body odour. Despite mentioning it numerous times, nothing changed. Through talking to him in great detail we identified the real reasons that this was happening and the mitigating circumstances he was experiencing at home. We put an action plan together which involved him being able to:
- Shower in our hotel
- Wash his clothes using our washing facilities
- Purchase a can of deodorant that he could keep in his locker at work
Eventually after six months his personal circumstances improved and he was able to fulfil these requirements at home. We had supported and retained a valued member of the team
Having to explain to a co-worker that they smell is the most difficult and awkward workplace scenario imaginable, according to new research.
The study, conducted by healthcare brand Balance ActivTM and Cardiff University, found it is a more awkward topic to raise compared with inappropriate clothing, tardiness or even substandard work.
Plus – sweaty odours were found to be the most annoying smells in the office, ahead of smelly feet, strong smelling food and bad breath.
The research also found that 51% of employees have no idea how to tell someone they need to address the way they smell. Klaer Brooker, Group Head of HR Transformation at Computacenter, gave her advice on how HR should handle such a delicate situation.
She said: “Putting yourself in the individual’s shoes is the key for any feedback. As managers, leaders and HR it’s our role to ensure we do this in the best way possible, treating such a situation with the privacy, empathy and discretion it needs.
“It is important to treat people as individuals and not make assumptions as to why, for example has something changed in their personal life that may be affecting them? That being said, when having the conversation, being open and honest but supportive will foster the right environment to gain acceptance and commitment to actions.
“Seeking advice and support from HR can also give comfort, ensuring you are prepared and set the right tone to achieve the best outcome.”
The survey also found that some of us resort to bizarre methods to prevent unwanted smells at work. 11% of men admitting they’ve borrowed their partner’s perfume after forgetting to put on deodorant. One in 20 women have used air fresher when forgetting their deodorant or perfume.
When it comes to addressing the issue, just 12% have taken confronted a workmate directly, whilst one in five workers admitted to having subtly left a can of deodorant on their desk.
Telling them their clothes are inappropriate came next in a list of awkward topics at four per cent. This was matched by scolding them for not working hard enough and followed closely by confronting a colleague about bad time keeping.
Shockingly, 19% of employers have complained to their superior about a co-workers smell, whilst 15% admit they have moved desk to escape an odour.
Brooker comments that whilst HR managers are taught to deal with these situations, the best way to confront the issue is with empathy and professionalism. She explains: “There is a wealth of training available, but there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Using our own knowledge and experiences is the best training, giving HR the ability to advise, guide and support managers and to be able to confidently manage difficult situations and conversations.”
The report concluded by claiming that women were the most likely to be offended by a bad smelling co-worker with a third saying they “wouldn’t take them seriously”. Surprisingly, almost half of female British employees say they wouldn’t hire someone with odour issues, compared to just a third of men.