Tips for addressing hygiene problems with employees
Here are some tips to keep in mind when addressing hygiene problems with employees.
The first thing that you need to do is to be sensitive to the fact that different cultures have different norms and standards for appearance, bathing, and dress. As the manager of your workplace this is a problem that you are going to need to deal with not the regular employees, but your workplace is justified in asking employees to embrace the cultural standards of the workplace in which the employee is working. This is especially true if nonconformance to the standard is interfering with the harmony and productivity of your workplace.
But you also want to make sure that you are being sensitive to the difference in cooking and eating traditions of the various cultures. A perfect example of this is the story about a woman who experienced her fellow students laughing at her and making fun of her because she always smelled like curry and garlic and other pungent spices. From this experience when she became a working adult, she toned down the amount of spice in her cooking, but the bad memory still stayed with her for years.
If you are the employee's supervisor or manager you actually owe it to the employee to hold this difficult conversation with them. This is especially true if other employees have complained to you or their managers about this employee. What you need to keep in mind is that if you don't have this difficult conversation with your employee then more likely than not the other coworkers will and that can cause a whole mess of problems that you don't even want to think about.
If when talking to an employee about their hygiene problems you need to keep in mind that they may have repeatedly tried to correct a hygiene issue but they are just not making much progress. If this is the case then you might want to suggest to the employee that they see a physician to help determine if there is some underlying medical cause for their personal hygiene issue. In fact by doing this you might actually be saving the employee's life because the issue might just be life threatening.
Another thing that you are going to want to do is to make sure that you start off with a soft approach. The reason that you want to start softly is because you want to set your employee at ease, not put them on the defensive. But just because you are going to be using a soft approach doesn't mean that you need to beat around the bush. The reason that you want to get straight into the topic is because it is going to be difficult to discuss and their emotions are already going to be sky high.
You also want to make sure that you tell the employee directly what the problem is as you perceive it. The reason for this is that if you talk around the issue or try to soften it too much the employee might not ever get the point of the problem, nor will they understand how serious the problem actually is. Also make sure that you avoid saying something like "some of our employees do the following" they might not every get the fact that it is them you are talking about.
You also want to make sure that you actually attach this difficult subject to some kind of business purpose. Basically you want to make sure that the employee doesn't perceive it as some kind of a personal vendetta when it isn't personal it just has to do with running your business.