Workplace: Hygiene

Hygiene is a workplace issue. People who smell – good or bad – can distract others, cause allergies, and create both lack of productivity and potential danger. People with unkempt hair and nails are a hazard in food, medical, and people-care businesses.

As hard as it is to say to someone, managers must speak with employees who have hygiene issues. The “must” discussion is not meant to alienate, rather it is meant to help the person who may be unaware or who may in fact be unable to care for themselves better. Your opportunity is to understand what is going on in the person’s life and explore what extensions of help you can offer (they may or may not be accepted). Personal hygiene conversations are delicate and can easily offend others. When in doubt, ask for human resources input and help.

One client shared that he took aside a young male employee to have the delicate conversation about his personal hygiene, only to discover that the young man had been living in his car and didn’t have a place to shower. The employee was hard-working, diligent, on time, and an asset to the company. So, the manager arranged for the employee to have a gym membership that allowed him to shower, improve his hygiene, and even to work out if he so chose. Yes, this client took extra steps to help the employee. The employee’s value to the company was worth the extra efforts.

Another client shared that an employee had no idea that her favorite perfume was causing breathing problems for others. Once she understood, she stopped wearing the perfume. Sometimes awareness is the only thing that is needed to improve a hygiene situation.

Smokers may have great personal hygiene and not realize that the smell of their smoke (or vape) stays on them when they return from break. This too is a difficult conversation. Ask your human resources team for assistance in handling this issue.

Pet-lovers may have great personal hygiene too and not realize that pet dander and/or pet smells are causing problems at the office. Gently engage these employees in conversation about sticky-roller-tapes that can remove pet hair before coming into the office. If smells are also an issue, this too may be a time to engage human resources.

Over two decades ago, military training was extended in length in order to address such things as personal hygiene. Close quarters call for sound hygiene for health and safety reasons. Included in the training: tooth-brushing, bathing, nail-care, and hair care.

Hygiene is a workplace issue. How are you taking care of yourself? How are your employees demonstrating their care for themselves? Is it time for a helpful discussion?

Workplace: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore    what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. – Jana

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