Clear communication is important in all relationships, more so between an employee and employer. There are some topics that are so delicate that if an employer broaches any of it in a careless manner, things will sour for worse. It can mar the reputation of the company. Today, with social media and the internet, such things spread like wild fire and can bring a bad name to the company. Hence it is important to initiate careful steps and words while communicating to an employee about such topic and personal matters such as body odor is one such subject.
Employee Body Odor in Office – Ways to Handle it:
The following mentioned are few tips on how to tell an employee they smell bad, how to stop body odor and also discuss with you about body odor remedies and cure for body odor.
1. Prepare for the talk:
It is important to prepare for the talk because one can get offended if you tell him or her that they have body odor. Take the matter seriously and gather information about the issue. Did anyone else complain about it? Study about the person, his background, work and lifestyle. Give a thought to the reason. Body odor is a medical issue, treat it just like that.
2. Try to gauge the urgency or seriousness of the issue:
Study about the situation first. Either it can be a genuine case or it might be that some co-workers are just being overly sensitive about a meagre issue. You should, if possible, spend some time with the person to see for yourself if there is a body odor.
3. It is a sensitive issue:
If the person is reeking of a bad odor, even then don’t jump into action. Please understand that this is a sensitive issue and handle the situation accordingly. Think and act kindly. Think about the next plan of action and take each step with care and caution.
4. Try to find the reason:
There can be many body odor causes. It can be a medical issue or it can be case of a strong deodorant or a cheap deo for that matter. It can even be a case of poor hygiene issues with the employee. Also there are some foods that cause body odor which are consumed by employees, this can also be causes of body odor. Consider all these factors carefully and then only broach the topic with the concerned person.
5. Converse only in private:
It is better to have a one-to-one talk. Involve the HR personnel only if it is necessary. Note down the conversation. Assure the person concerned that it is an informal meeting and that the details of the meeting will be strictly confidential and no one else will know about it. This will give confidence to the employee and he will not find the discussion offending.
6. Look before you speak:
Sometimes, a suitable word can resolve matter while a harsh one can complicate things. Hence, think about the words you are going to use. Some words like ‘repulsive’ are too strong a word and they should be avoided.
7. Be soft in approach:
It is how you broach the topic that is important. You can start the conversation by saying that you have noticed that the person has a strong body odor. It is better to say that you noticed it rather than saying someone else complained about it. You can even console the person by saying that it is a small matter and we both should try to find a solution. You can make the matter more humane by saying that you too had faced the body odor problem earlier and also share how you resolved the issue.
8. Tell them why you had to talk about it:
You should tell them that the reason why you chose to talk to the person is that this issue was affecting matters in business, clients and customers. You should also tell him that if the issue is not resolved soon enough, it can have a negative impact on his career as well. Just take care that you put this point in a sympathetic manner.
9. It is not a big deal:
This is one point that needs to be reiterated at every point. It is a point that you need to emphasize to yourself and to the person concerned. Most of us have body odor. It is just that it is more prominent in some, than others. If you understand this, then you will be able to see the issue more compassionately. You should even consider, regard and treat the issue as if it is no big deal.
10. Ask the employee if there is any reason:
Since you have already made a list of what causes body odor, you can check those reasons with the person. If there is any medical issue that the employee is unaware of, you can offer to help him out by suggesting a doctor. Use of medicine for body odor helps you eliminate body odor. If the employee feels hesitant to talk about it to you, ask him if there is any other person with whom he would like to speak. Maybe, he is more comfortable writing about it rather than speaking. Whatever the case may be, assure the employee that you will be with him in every step.
11. Find if there are any personal issues:
Has the body odor, to do anything about his lifestyle? You can assure him that whatever the reasons might be, the company is ready to offer a helping hand.
12. A group approach to may help:
Even if there is a single person or more with body odor issues, instead of having a one-to-one meeting, you can consider a group meeting and then talk about the issue as a general issue. Do not take any names. The person or persons with the issue will automatically take note and correct it. If the person concerned does not show any initiative and the problem persists, then you can convene a meeting with him or her.
13. The issue is not a joke:
It is a delicate and embarrassing situation, not just for the person with sour body odor but also for the employer or the manager who has to speak to the former. Do not take the issue casually and never, ever make a joke about the issue, however harmless or innocent the joke might be.
14. A straightforward talk is best:
Do not try to have an indirect conversation or try to give hints. The person in question may not even understand what you are pointing at. Often, it can lead to misunderstandings and can complicate the issue. Hence have a direct and straightforward talk, but be gentle, non-judgemental and sensitive.
15. Don’t put the onus on others:
As discussed in point 6, it is better not to involve any third person into the matter. If you are going to say that someone has complained about the body odor, then issues will crop up between them and you might have inadvertently pitted your own employees against each other.
16. You can give a thought to the gender:
Though there should not be any gender bias in anything related to work, you can bring gender into focus here. When it comes to the body odor issue, it is better that a male manager speak to the male employee and if it is a woman, then let a female take charge of speaking to her.
17. You should come across as a genuine problem resolver:
Check your approach. It should be of someone who wants to resolve the issue and not as someone who is accusing. You need to assure yourself about it before you can put it to the person concerned.
18. End the conversation on a positive note:
First, thank the person for being so understanding and attentive. Ask him if he has any questions. Fix a deadline to solve the matter after checking it with the employee. Tell him to get back to you for any help he might require. Leave the meeting with a smile and try to make the employee smile too.
19. Do a follow up:
Check with the employee to know what corrective measures he or she has taken. Find if it is working or not. If the person in question is not taking the meeting or suggestions seriously, then a strict action is called for.
20. Be helpful at each step:
If the body odor is just a matter of too much sweat, then a best deodorant for body odor could help. But what if the person is allergic to it? You can suggest a non-allergic deodorant or body spray to the person. In such ways, be helpful and compassionate. That usually works to resolve even tougher situations. So extend that helping hand.
In an office, as an employer or manager, you should not take any matter lightly. If a complaint comes before you, do not jump the gun. Instead, study and analyse the situation. As an employer, each individual working with you is important. Hence it is needed that you treat everyone equally and resolve all matters amicably without offending anyone. The issue of body odor is a complicated and delicate one which needs a lot of consideration and thought. The above 20 points can help you formulate a body odor solution in such a way that not only that the matter gets resolved, all will also be happy in the process. In the hindsight, you will also have helped a person who needed such a sage advice that is not only going to help him in his office now but hopefully will serve as a lesson in future as well, not just in his professional but also personal life.