Colleague with personal hygiene issues

(19 Posts)
WhatchaMaCalllit Mon 09-Dec-19 16:00:39

Where I work there are two members of staff that have personal hygiene issues. I am not their team leader or manager but I work close by one of these two staff members.

I'm office/desk based and I have spent my own money on a reed diffuser for the room (hoping that it would help with the odour but it doesn't once the staff members get up and walk around).
I have my own perfume and regularly re-apply it throughout the day. I sometimes have to put on my lightweight scarf and breathe through it as the odour can be overpowering.

How can I mention it or should I even mention it to the staff member or do I mention it to the team leader/manager?

It's such a difficult conversation to have to have but when I put on my coat, even though it's been on the coat stand, it has picked up the odour from this colleagues jacket that is also on the coat stand.

What to do???

OP’s posts: |
CountYourRoosters Mon 09-Dec-19 16:02:19

Do not approach the staff member!
This is actually more common than you might think. We had it in our place too and the best thing is to speak to HR and they will arrange a meeting with the person quietly and discreetly

TDL2016 Mon 09-Dec-19 16:09:48

Agree with PP. you need to discuss with HR.

Marcipex Mon 09-Dec-19 16:13:38

Speak to HR.
Hang your coat on the back of your chair in the meantime .

stripeypillowcase Mon 09-Dec-19 16:13:56

you need to speak to their manager or hr.

in addition you need to see the workplace policy wrt diffusers and scent sprays - we are not allowed to use them.

ncasembarrassed Mon 09-Dec-19 16:17:57

I have the reverse embarrassing problem whereby I know that I can smell sometimes. I have hyperhidrosis, caused by an overactive thyroid, which causes excessive sweating by my feet and hands. Hands are fine - they're about in the open and never smell, but sweaty feet cause smelly shoes. I have tried everything; wear different shoes every day, anti-bac everything, spent hours researching - I even at one point put cat litter in my shoes over night - oh the experiments! Spent £350 on a machine to try and get rid of the problem. But nothing does. Even my feet in a brand new pair of shoes will towards the end of the day cause a leather-y smell. I buy 2 pairs of the same shoes and swap in the middle of the day.
It's awful and embarrassing.

TopOftheNaughtyList Mon 09-Dec-19 16:19:13

I agree that this is a conversation for HR to have with the employee, or their manager if you don't have an HR department. Speak to HR and ask them to deal with it.

As an aside, I have to say I'd personally not like it if I had a colleague who was too liberal with applying perfume too. Perfume scent is a personal choice and it can become overpowering if it constantly being topped up throughout the day.

ncasembarrassed Mon 09-Dec-19 16:25:51

Look up Lampe Berger and their diffusers OP.
"In response to a major preoccupation at that time (1898) - a sepsis in hospitals - Maurice Berger, a pharmaceutical dispenser, invented a system of diffusion by catalysis, for which he filed a patent. This revolutionary technology, which purifies the air in enclosed rooms, was soon to be applied for private use , giving birth to the Lampe Berger company."
They have reed diffusers specific for bathrooms, animal and tobacco odors. They're pretty good and the fragrances designed by french perfumers. This might help.

areyouafraidofthedark Mon 09-Dec-19 16:28:13

Speak to your manager. I had this in my old job, told me manager and he sorted it.

TheReluctantCountess Mon 09-Dec-19 16:30:00

Are we talking a sweaty smell or a wee or poo smell, or something else?

Is there anyone else in the office? Have they noticed?

OldElPasoHadAChicken Mon 09-Dec-19 16:42:23

Please, do NOT cloud the office with perfume and/ or airfresheners. Many of us are very allergic.

It's an HR problem, you speak to HR. And don't hang your coat there, hang it on your chair or somewhere else.

There could be a number of reasons why both colleagues smell. Are either of them very obese? Is it more of an unwashed clothes smell, or an acrid underarm BO smell?

I also have hyperhydrosis and struggle immensely but I'm on top of it. It's taken years. I can't not be saturated in the summer months but I'm now capable of not smelling.

Please see HR. And please stop.with the perfume and diffuser.

OlivejuiceU2 Mon 09-Dec-19 16:53:46

We have this issue with one of our students (I work at a Uni). We have exams coming up and have been worried about others sitting in the same room for a long period of time. By the way it is an incredibly strong smell, will literally clear the room and will linger for a long time. We are looking into a solution and we know it’s by the students fault so trying to find a sensitive way to approach this. Normally it is a distance learning programme so not an issue but exams take place on campus. It’s a really difficult situation.

WhatchaMaCalllit Mon 09-Dec-19 20:06:54

Thanks for the advice. I understand about not speaking directly with the colleague and I won't.

It's a body odour smell (not wee or poo as that would be horrific to be nearby I'd imagine). It's from the start of the day and it's a very strong stale sweat and not having washed smell.

I can't put my coat on my chair as it would be a hazard (very safety conscious o they are where I work). I also am conscious of topping up my perfume but there are times I'm struggling to breathe through my nose as the odour is that strong.

I'll have to have a word with the team leader to see if there's something that can be done. It's frustrating as we have showers in our building and anyone can use them.

OP’s posts: |
BeingATwatItsABingThing Mon 09-Dec-19 20:10:45

Is it that they are washing their body but not their clothes?

RedWineIsFabulous Mon 09-Dec-19 20:21:41

A friend of mine works with someone who's arse really smells.

Not that my friend is into smelling arses but whenever this person bends down there is a huge waft of shit. It is on a daily basis apparently.

My friend told her boss but they haven't approached the issue as yet...

lljkk Mon 09-Dec-19 20:28:28

How does a boss approach this, is there a set of instructions for managers? My line manager has a bad breath problem often, but I don't really care.

FelicityBeedle Mon 09-Dec-19 20:31:40

Two people seems very unlikely, are you hypersensitive to smells by any chance? Or is it just bad luck

TheReluctantCountess Mon 09-Dec-19 21:05:43

When classrooms get sweaty places (and they really can, when they have 30 teenagers in!) it’s gross when you first walk in, but after a while you get used to it and stop noticing it. If you can notice it all time, maybe you are extremely sensitive to it.

WhatchaMaCalllit Mon 09-Dec-19 21:51:22

I'm honestly not super or hyper sensitive to the smell.
I'm honestly not going to go up and say to either one of them "Is it you or your clothes that stink?"
They obviously have no idea or simply don't care that their lack of personal hygiene is making an impact.
With the heating on throughout the building each room can get stuffy at times but even from early on in the morning it's actually unpleasant when you walk from one office to our shared open plan office as it is smelly when they are in.

I will talk to the team leader and see if anything can be done.

OP’s posts: |

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