How to Deal with an Employees Body Odour

The recent hot weather has meant I’ve received a lot of calls about how to deal with an employees body odour. They are uncomfortable conversations, for even us seasoned HR Professionals, but they are necessary! The first point I always make is to ask the caller to think about how they’d want the situation to be handled it if it were them.

Here are my tips for if you find yourself faced with handling an awkward HR conversation:

  • Keep the conversation short, honest, direct and as kind as possible.
  • Try and time it towards the end of their working day so they don’t need to sit there feeling self-conscious for the rest of day.
  • Reiterate the person is a valued member of the team and you are approaching them out of concern.
  • Be sensitive. Choose your words carefully and refrain from making judgements.
  • Explain the conversation is confidential and make sure you keep it that way!
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Get right to the point; dragging out the inevitable only heightens the tension.
  • Offer your support and ask what you can do to help.
  • Follow up after a short period to make sure the situation is resolved, and if not, discuss other alternatives / consequences.

If we take the body odour scenario your conversation may go something like this:

I want to discuss something that’s awkward, and I hope I don’t offend you. You’ve had a noticeable body odour lately. It might be a need to wash clothes more frequently or shower more, or it could be a medical problem. This is the kind of thing that people often don’t realise about themselves, so I wanted to bring it to your attention

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How to Deal with an Employees Body Odour


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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