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  • Helen Manson

Loving this sunny weather? Us too. But when an employee has BO it's the pits...


I think most would agree, this is one of the most difficult conversations a manager can have. It’s personal. It’s uncomfortable. For both the employee and the manager. It may be the employee has an underlying health condition - and it really is time to find out.

Here's our quick guide on how to manage this sensitively and effectively:

• Meet the employee in private

• Own the problem - don't pass the complaint on to someone else - tell them you’ve noticed the problem

• Explain the impact the problem is having on the team

• Ask the employee if they are aware. There may be a medical problem. Perhaps there are adjustments the business could be making to assist them.

• Make suggestions – if there isn’t a medical problem, suggest they keep a deodorant and a spare top at work

• Set out your expectations for improvement and a date for a review meeting

• Reassure the employee that this informal conversation will remain private

• Make a note of the conversation

• Monitor the situation discreetly and hold the review meeting as planned

If things don’t improve, it may be appropriate to hold a disciplinary meeting, but we advise you speak to us first before proceeding down this route.

Just because it's a difficult conversation to have, doesn't mean you should bury your head in the sand. You may be surprised (or not?!) to know personal hygiene issues within the workplace are more common than you think, and if such matters aren't dealt with in a timely, sensitive but effective manner, it can lead to serious complaints and grievances.

Have you had to deal with this problem? Let us know your experiences...


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