Sasha Answers: Workplace Body Odour
I work in a team of 6 at the moment. Recently a new colleague joined our team from another section of the organization. Problem is she's got a major BO problem. Without boring you with details, it's genuinely unbearable. She always has clean clothes and clean hair, so we're inclined to think its a medical problem.
Your first thought is probably "just tell her, she'll appreciate it in the long run.", but its not that straightforward. Firstly, this person is very ambitious and is likely to be our boss in the reasonably near future. She's also extremely passive aggressive and if anyone ever confronts her about anything, no matter how innocuous, she cries until the problem goes away. We can't go through personnel either as it will be clear that the complaint has come from us.
It's so bad in the office that we're constantly spraying perfumes and airfresheners. We're dreading summer. We'd really appreciate any advice you could give. Thanks.
If you’re not willing to live with it, then something has to be said. I know that you don’t want to hurt her feelings or for it to come back and bite you in the ass, but it’s the only the way to go at this point.
Chances are she’s well aware of her body odor problem, so telling her what she already knows serves zero purpose – the only thing it’ll do is embarrass her. So, if I were you I’d gather up a few of your colleagues and go talk with your HR department. This is something that they need to deal with and at the end of the day this is what they are trained to do.
My only last bit of advice would be to make sure you keep sh-t professional and stay respectful. I don’t envy your situation, but if this is indeed a medical problem then I feel really bad for her so keep any jokes to a minimum.
Thanks for writing in and keep your LIFE + STYLE questions come here.