When someone's lack of personal hygiene reaches a certain point, it starts to affect others around them. Excellent interpersonal skills can count for little if the individual's body odour is bad enough to impact fellow co-workers. It will come as no surprise then that studies show that 75% of people would feel compelled to complain if a co-worker smelled terrible.
Why Is Personal Hygiene Important At Work?
Personal hygiene is not usually included as part of someone's personal development, as regular bathing is assumed to be something of a given. Dealing with poor personal hygiene at work is vital, as it can ruin team dynamics and relationships. The problem is that it's a sensitive issue, and the person involved may have hidden problems that are causing a lack of self-care. You need to tread carefully.
What To Do When A Team Member's Body Odour Affects The Workplace?
One this is for sure - a problem like this in the workplace shouldn't be ignored. Doing so can affect your company's productivity and overall levels of contentment within your workforce. Address it you must, but it should be done so privately and respectfully. Let’s look now at some of the most essential elements of your approach.
- Don't Be Too Hasty
If you've not yet experienced the problem first-hand and it's been raised by a co-worker, it's important not to act too hastily. You have to establish whether the issue was a temporary one or if there's a consistent pattern that needs to be talked about. Forgetting to put deodorant on for a couple of days is no major problem, but if it's more than that, you'll know that intervening is a necessary move.
- Keep Things Private to Avoid Embarrassment
Due to the delicate nature of the problem, raising it publicly is likely to cause the person embarrassment - which you clearly need to avoid. As such, schedule a one-to-one during which you can politely explain the need for change. During this time, you agree on a path moving forward, and you may gain insight into the employee's home life and what may be causing a lack of personal care.
- Be Compassionate & Offer Advice
While it's essential to be clear about workplace expectations, it's also vital to be compassionate and nurturing - particularly if life outside of work is challenging. Once you understand the reason behind the problem, perhaps suggest some practical advice such as; changing deodorant brands, adjusting their personal care routine or even taking a bus to work, so they sweat less - whatever works.
- Tip - Be Sure to Follow Up
When dealing with a problem like this one, you should follow the same SMART target approach as you would with a standard performance review—as online training in management shows, following up on any agreed target - even one that deals with personal hygiene. As such, you need to give the employee the time necessary to make the changes.
When problems like these aren't dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner, you risk your team's happiness. It can lead to conflict between colleagues, so it's incumbent upon you to take the correct approach. Follow these tips, however, and you won't go far wrong.
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Personal hygiene problems represent just one factor that can cause conflict in the workplace. However, by engaging with CPD-accredited OCA short courses online, like our Conflict Resolution Certificate, you can improve your skills at a pace that suits you. Being video-based and modular, OCA online training can be easily consumed around your busy day. All you need to get some meaningful study done is a smartphone or tablet and a spare 10 minutes.
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