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Personal hygiene issues

Hey all, I'm hoping for some pointers on having a difficult conversation...

We have an employee who has strong body odour (this has been raised previously and they have told us they have overactive sweat glands which can cause some odour). But also their general etiquette (burping/passing wind) around the work place. 

I need to raise this again as it's ongoing, however I'm very much a straight to the point person and I of course don't want to cause any upset or offence but I'm not sure how to approach the subject exactly. 

As someone who hasn't had to have these conversations very often I want to approach it correctly and sensitively. Any guidance would be appreciated.

Thank you, 

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  • As has been said many times on this forum it is a line management responsibility.
    If it has been raised before then direct seems like the better approach.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    28 Jul, 2023 13:19

    Hi  ,

    As Peter says, most line mangers ought to take this one on themselves as they know the individual(s) the best... and can therefore get the approach and tone right. You can advise, of course.

    Here is a selection of some relevant discussions, staring with an archived thread from 2010...
    Dealing with an employee with unpleasant body odour 

     Personal hygiene - does not use deodorant for religious reasons 

     Staff Hygiene 

     Strong Perfume 

  • I have had this passing wind thing with someone, gross yes I know. It was addressed by the line manager and it stopped. I believe the conversation went something along the lines of "stop it, you are in a shared office and if you have an issue please go to the toilet" It's one of those ones it is what it is. They are probably less embarrassed about it than you, if they think its acceptable to be passing wind around their colleagues.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Thank you Steve, I will have a read through for future reference!
  • In reply to Fiona:

    Very good point! I must stop over thinking these things :-)
  • It is an extremely sensitive and personal issue, and one that needs to be handled with a lot of care. Perhaps a gentle conversation between the line manager and the individual would suffice - just a general chat, nothing too menacing or intimidating, just to 'pass the word' to the employee in question. If it keeps happening, perhaps ask if there is something we can do to support them - e.g. if they would like to speak to an occupational health specialist/ company doctor, or EAP.