Q: How should we handle a situation where customers are complaining about and refusing to work with one of our employees due to his lack of personal hygiene?
A: This is certainly a sensitive issue. We recommend starting by having a coaching meeting with the employee that will not be considered a disciplinary event. You should meet with employee in a private location without interruptions where you can explain the problem and how it affects the workplace. Holding the meeting at the end of the day may be best as it will allow the employee to leave immediately afterwards. If you have a policy about personal hygiene in place, review it with the employee.
Trying to find the root of the issue or providing solutions may embarrass the employee. Instead, try to be compassionate and focus on the company’s future expectations. Be sure to give the employee room to speak and ask questions. It is possible the employee has a disability that impacts their hygiene or that there are protected religious or cultural factors in play. This is definitely a difficult conversation, but in our experience, an honest conversation generally produces positive results if you remain sensitive. If the employee’s hygiene levels continue to be an issue, the next meeting may have to be disciplinary in nature and should be handled with the same progressive discipline process that you use for other matters.
The content below comes from Transcend Technologies Group, Inc.