Speaking to Employees about Hygiene
Speaking to Employees about Hygiene
Identify the Issue. Before you start a conversation about personal hygiene with your employee, make sure that the manager has first-hand knowledge. Don’t rely solely on information or hearsay. Try to get the information you need personally. This will allow for open and honest discussions, which avoids involving employees or making things more complicated.
There are many reasons for personal hygiene problems. Many reasons for body odor, tattered clothes, and an untidy appearance can be caused by:
- Cultural Differences – Can a hairstyle or style be attributed to a religious or cultural custom? Are strong spices used in the cultural cooking of the person to leave a scent on their hair?
- Financial issues – Is there a change in the financial situation of an employee that might make it difficult to purchase new clothes, expensive cleaning products, or other items? What are your thoughts?
- Medical Concerns – Is the employee suffering from a medical condition? Are there any medical conditions that could affect the employee’s appearance or odor? Many medications and treatments can cause hair loss and sensitive skin. This can make frequent showering difficult and painful.
- Emotional distress – A person can feel overwhelmed by mental health issues. This can make it difficult to take care of yourself and seem unimportant.
1. Create a policy.
Clear expectations will help to prevent hygiene and grooming problems from occurring. Consider creating a separate hygiene and grooming policy for the workplace and/or including personal hygiene expectations into your dress code and personal appearance policies. Please be as specific as you can and give examples of your company’s expectations.
2. Do not assume that you know the cause.
Hygiene issues can be caused by many factors including cultural differences, personal problems, mental health issues, poor grooming habits, and medical issues. Do not assume that one of these causes is the problem. Also, be aware that you are not violating nondiscrimination laws when dealing with hygiene issues.
3. Learn about the rights of workers
If it is not causing undue hardship for the business, you may have to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and employees who hold sincerely held religious beliefs or practices. If you require your employees to keep clean, you may need to make an exception if they have beards.
4. Verify that the issue is not a duplicate.
If you are made aware of the issue by a complaint, investigate to find out if there is an actual problem before taking any action. It could be as easy as talking to the employee.
5. Meet the employee privately
Once you’ve confirmed that there is a hygiene problem, talk to the employee. The conversation should take place face-to-face in a private setting. An employee should not be informed about a hygiene problem anonymously, by email or in any other indirect manner. Let another employee know that you will deal with the issue.
6. Be direct and tactful
Set the scene by telling the employee that you are going to be discussing a difficult topic during the meeting. Sometimes, employees may not be aware that there is a problem and may need more information. Give an explanation and treat the employee with respect. Avoid using judgmental language and use factual terms. If applicable, cite your policy and explain how the situation affects the business.
7. Allow the employee to speak.
Give your employee plenty of time to respond. Determine if an accommodation is possible to reduce or solve the employee’s personal hygiene problem if they state that it is caused by a disability. You may be able to provide reasonable accommodations, such as allowing the employee to receive treatment, granting an exception to your hygiene policy, or allowing them to work remotely.
8. Set appropriate expectations and document.
At the conclusion of the meeting, you should communicate clearly with the employee your expectations and the next steps. Take notes of the conversation and the next steps that were taken by the company and employee.
Preparation is key. One can be offended if they tell you that they have body smell. You should take the matter seriously and get information about offensive workplace orders.
Problems with personal hygiene can lead to serious problems at work. They can make the workplace unpleasant and cause problems for businesses that have staff who interact with the public. It is important to keep in mind that individuals may not be aware of a problem with their personal hygiene until it is brought to their attention. Poor hygiene and body odors can often be signs of underlying issues, such as a medical condition or personal problem.