BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: I have received several complaints about an employee’s noticeable body odor. How should we handle this problem?
Answer: This is a surprisingly common and universally dreaded dilemma. When dealing with hygiene issues, such as body odor or offending scents of any kind, be as sensitive and confidential as possible. Designate an appropriate Manager to address the odor directly with the employee. Since the conversation will most likely result in discomfort and embarrassment, the meeting should be held in a setting that ensures privacy, preferably right before the employee leaves for the day.
Approach the meeting as any other job-related issue that disrupts others in the workplace. Refer to your dress and grooming policy and company expectations. Consider that diet, medication, a medical condition or disability might be responsible for the odor. Let the employee bring this up, don’t ask questions about health conditions. Also stay away from suggesting religious, cultural, ethnic (including food) causes.
Be straight forward and non-judgmental. Simply let the employee know that the issue must be addressed and see if they have any suggestions. Assure the employee that correcting the body odor would improve their professional image and the company is willing to help. Be prepared with a variety of solutions (cooling fan, laundry allowance, extra breaks to freshen up), if the employee asks for assistance. Follow up after a few days to confirm the issue is being resolved.
Take a More Balanced Approach to HR with BPHR
With BPHR, an HR Generalist will integrate within your organization and can advise you when sensitive, employee-related issues arise. With these worries out of the way, your can focus on more strategic tasks. Schedule your free phone consultation today to learn how your organization can benefit from BPHR.
Have a question for Lisa? Email her directly.
DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.