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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Employee hygiene: What you can do

Paul is a hardworking guy. You know he holds a second job in the evenings and extra time in the day is hard for him to find. A couple of his co-workers have asked to be reassigned. When pressed, they admit it is because Paul occasionally doesn�t smell too good. In fact, as the week progresses, he really begins to stink! You�ve noticed it, but you figured it would get better.

No one likes to deal with someone else�s hygiene issues. When it comes to body odor, the situation is embarrassing and especially difficult to confront and remedy. As the supervisor, you have an obligation to make the workplace comfortable for all. How can you make this awkward confrontation as easy as possible?


Keep it short and to the point. Schedule the meeting at the end of the day. The employee will likely be deeply embarrassed and not want to continue working. This will enable him/her to leave immediately following the meeting.

Make the meeting private and as brief as possible. You�ll only increase everyone�s level of discomfort by beating around the bush. State the problem and give your expectations for correcting it. Don�t sugarcoat the situation, as you want the employee to understand the severity. Also, make sure a time limit is set to correct the problem.


Respect your employee�s privacy. You should never discuss the matter with other employees. Hopefully the situation will remedy itself in short order and all will be satisfied.

By the same token, you must respect the privacy of the co-workers who�ve complained. In fact, if you have personally noticed the odor, explaining to the employee that you have concerns about his body odor eliminates the potential for him to question which co-worker ratted him out.


Follow normal disciplinary procedures if the problem is not corrected by the deadline that was set. Contact your Employee Relations consultant to discuss.

- Connie Reckowsky
Employee Relations

Gold rule

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.