I was approached today at work as a senior female in our area to talk to the female trainee about her smell. The male staff senior to me would not handle this situation very well.
I am not sure how to approach this with sensitivity. I had thought about just putting deodorant in her draw and hoping she would take the hint? The trainee shares an office with another worker, who has not complained, but the rest of the office can smell the body odor up the hall way. She always has clean cloths and her hair looks washed.
We do live in a very warm climate, however our offices are air conditioned.
Any Advice please? 1029-12
First, this is a private matter about a person’s body odor and hygiene which is unfortunately become a workplace problem impacting the work environment for others. Your discussion with her needs to be in private. The only thing your fellow employees need to know is that the problem has been addressed. They do not need the gory details of what you said, what the exact problem is or how you resolved it. By being tactful and discreet, you build trust not only in her but other workers as well.
Two, keep the discussion on topic, be straightforward and assure her that it has nothing to do with her job performance but how she physically presents herself is related to the company dress/appearance code which violations of can affect employee morale and client interactions. (If your company does not have a dress code, you need to create one and implement it).
Three, offer possible solutions. There are deodorants on the market such as Secret Clinical Strength and Degree Clinical Strength that are targeted to heavy sweaters with unusually strong odors. If I remember correctly, there are even prescription strength deodorants a doctor can proscribe. Be open to the idea that it may not be her underarms that are the source of the odors. Yeast or bacterial infections in private areas, behind the knees, the mouth and the top of the butt crack can give off an unpleasant odor and can be remedied with over the counter product such as Gold Bond Medicated Powder or mycostatin creams or powders from the doctor. If she seems amendable to finding solutions, perhaps have a few samples of the aforementioned items ready in a pretty basket or bag. It might even be her laundry detergent! I once used a particular brand and scent of liquid detergent that made the clothes have this smell that reminded everyone in the family of stale urine with a slightly sweet yet ammonia scent. Our clothes smelled like rancid, old pee! Ditched that bottle of detergent!
Four, treat this like any other infringement of the dress code and set a time limit for correction of the problem. If your company has a disciplinary policy for continued infringements, you need to follow those procedures up to and including termination if necessary.