Forums

I have been in H/R for many years and this has come up one other time and I still don't know how to handle it? We have an employee with terrible body order, we are a small office and everyone is friendly with each other. How can I address this issue with her?
I am new on the board and hope this is a topic I can discuss on the board.

tcomeau's picture

Start with: http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/06/how-to-handle-yes-body-odor-part-1/
(note that it's a two-parter) and check out the discussion at
http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1610

The forum discussion is pretty brief, but maybe it's time to restart it!

tc>

Sporkman's picture

One thing I remember hearing about is a service that writes very delicately & diplomatically worded emails to the problem coworker from an anonymous source (be it about body odor or other distracting/annoying qualities or behaviors)...

juliahhavener's picture

I wouldn't send an email.

I have a team member who has an issue with personal scent. The discussion is easier with him because it isn't a body odor, but rather the scent of clothing that was left just a bit too long in the washer. I can't smell it, but his teammates can and my lead can (my nose is not terribly sensitive to many things). When it first came up my team lead and I discussed it in depth and we have both addressed it directly.

This particular person is one who commonly becomes defensive with any feedback (even positive!) - and this is the one discussion with him that has been relatively easy.

kenstanley's picture

Julia's right here. Don't send the email. Deal with it yourself.

Follow the advice in the podcasts that Tom pointed out. Do exactly what Mike and Mark suggest. Can't do too badly with that.

Ken.

Mark's picture

Every once in a while, I am surprised here.

An email is not only wrong, it's in and of itself offensive. It doesn't just imply, it SCREAMS lack of courage. And employees EXPECT courage from management.

Small suggestion: use our search function. We bought a Google Mini server for this very purpose. The first hit on "body odor" takes you to our 2 part podcast on exactly how to handle this delicate conversation professionally.

And it shouldn't be an HR manager: this is the manager's job. A manager who won't do it isn't doing his job.

Mark

Sporkman's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Every once in a while, I am surprised here.

An email is not only wrong, it's in and of itself offensive. It doesn't just imply, it SCREAMS lack of courage. And employees EXPECT courage from management.[/quote]

Just citing a service I've heard about, that's all :) Probably marketed towards coworkers, not managers...

US41's picture

[quote="Sporkman"][quote="mahorstman"]Every once in a while, I am surprised here.

An email is not only wrong, it's in and of itself offensive. It doesn't just imply, it SCREAMS lack of courage. And employees EXPECT courage from management.[/quote]

Just citing a service I've heard about, that's all :) Probably marketed towards coworkers, not managers...[/quote]

The service should not exist. The only way it could possibly succeed as a business is if people use email to cowardly throw rocks from behind a wall instead of facing their people.

There may be some embarrassment being told that a booger is hanging from your nose in a casual way by a coworker, but it is all too brief and gentle compared to an email you will likely read 10,000 times. Criticism in writing hurts in a way that direct, face to face verbal interaction does not.

hrrabbit51's picture

Thank you all for the feedback. And thanks Mike, this is my first time on here and not sure how it all works yet. Will check out the area you suggested.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="Sporkman"]One thing I remember hearing about is a service that writes very delicately & diplomatically worded emails to the problem coworker from an anonymous source (be it about body odor or other distracting/annoying qualities or behaviors)...[/quote]

Reading that the first thing that came to mind was a website that one of my colleagues showed me about 10 years ago. The site was called something like "You Suck!" or "Boss Sucks!". The purpose of the site was that you entered your boss' email address, clicked some boxes selecting what sort of behavours your boss had that you felt were ineffective then click send and your boss would get an email that said something along the lines of "One or more of your employees thinks you suck because...". Not at all professional and not a site I've ever used.

I realise that the site you describe isn't like that but it certainly seems to be in the same zipcode, or at least would be likely to have the same impact on the recipient.

Face to face is the way to go. Emails (anonymous or not), notes on the desk, tins of deodorant in the desk drawer, shouting "Good grief! what's that stink?" accross the office, wearing a gas mask to the office or spraying air freshener whenever they walk by (all things I've seen people do) are not.

Listen to the podcasts and apply the lessons. It'll either work, in which case great, or it won't, in which case at least you haven't burned your bridges by appearing to be uncaring or 'nasty'. Remember that often people aren't aware that their personal scent is offensive and in some cases they cannot do anything to change it if they wanted to (e.g. they have to take a medication that results in them giving off a scent, even if they wash it returns quickly).

Stephen

Mark's picture

Sporkman-

I apologize. I regret that the way I wrote my post led to the possible outcome that you felt I was attacking. That was my fault, and I could have done that better.

I was addressing the service, and not your recommendation per se. I think you can see from above that it's not a professionally admired idea.

Thanks for the comment!

Mark

Sporkman's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Sporkman-

I apologize. I regret that the way I wrote my post led to the possible outcome that you felt I was attacking. That was my fault, and I could have done that better.[/quote]

Not at all. :) You are absolutely right, it was right to make clear that it's not a very good way to address the problem in case anybody in the thread came away with the wrong impression.