Another Co-worker With B.O.!

Question:

I’ve read your other responses to employees with odor problems. The problem that we have is that this person works in our Quality department (we deal with food) with B.O. Not only is this an uncomfortable situation for us, customers who visit our facility and audit our ‘clean’ environment think when dealing with her. Her body odor is terrible. People try to avoid her when she comes around, but that’s almost impossible.

We’re trying to decide not only how to approach her, but whose responsibility it is to approach her (her supervisor or Human Resources). I’ve worked here for over two years and this problem still hasn’t been addressed. She does her job well, but her overall appearance (she’s very much over weight) and odor are offensive. She is a low-income person and doesn’t have very much money for things other than necessities, but we’d like to help in a positive way to fix the problem for all of us-help!

Signed,

Can’t Avoid Her


Answer:

Dear┬áCan’t Avoid Her:

Usually, with counseling body odor problems can be solved. Two years is too long to allow your work environment to be fouled. Kind and firm coaching can inform this woman that co-workers have complained about her BO. A supervisor should handle this in a private conference. This individual should be made aware of possible causes and corrective action–daily bathing with Dial or other soaps, use of deodorant/antiperspirant, clean clothing, and avoiding foods that tend to aggravate the problem.

Usually, written preventive/corrective measures are available from your company’s nurse or doctor or Human Resources. A follow up plan should be spelled out to provide feedback to this person that informs her of success or failure of efforts to stop this problem. Most people would prefer to be told rather than to be avoided or be the subject of gossip. The supervisor should stress that body odor is a problem for both internal customers, her co-workers, and external customers, those who visit and inspect your plant.

Her problem is not uncommon. She should be told that. Possibly she has never been told how to do what she can to solve it. Fortunately, your supervisor can preface this delicate counseling with praise for her good work. Our Workplace Doctor Tina Rowe has prepared guidelines for workplace hygiene that I am attaching. Copy this for your supervisor. It might be something that could be given to this woman and presented to all in your work area.

A good nose for business includes helping others to save face over such problems as these, and that means honest assertive coaching.

WEGO is our signature that means working together with hands, head, and heart. Sometimes that entails honest confrontation.

William Gorden