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worker treats coworkers as in the event that they stink — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I work with a bunch of people who find themselves public-facing in a constructing (retail/public service kind atmosphere) and we rotate folks on completely different desks on a set schedule all through the day. I’ve just a few coworkers who’re delicate to fragrances, and our coverage was lately up to date to be a “fragrance-reasonable” office. Our coverage says that as a result of staff and guests could have sensitivity or allergic reactions to numerous aromatic merchandise, staff ought to chorus from utilizing closely scented merchandise.

For a few our coworkers who had been within the behavior of utilizing scented lotions, and so on., this was a change, however general folks have been attempting to be aware of sensitivities, and now we have addressed points immediately as required.

My concern is the response of 1 worker to the smells of others. I do imagine they’re nonetheless smelling odors from others, despite the fact that no different coworkers are capable of odor something. However their reactions to those smells are unprofessional and I wish to tackle it immediately with them. (I supervise their supervisor, so it will be applicable for me.) This individual will bodily cowl their mouth and nostril within the elevator with different folks, or fan the air vigorously with a folder when transitioning to a desk {that a} “smelly” individual has been sitting at (that different coworkers can’t odor something from). I had thought that the coverage clarification on private scents and our direct discussions had solved this, however simply acquired a verbal report that these behaviors proceed. That is understandably hurtful to those coworkers.

I’m attempting to find out a great way to make sure I tackle this individual’s sensitivity considerations, whereas additionally making it clear how these behaviors are unacceptable, and to set affordable conduct expectations. (It feels bizarre to think about saying, “Don’t cowl your nostril and mouth like a toddler when your coworkers step into the elevator,” however do I should be on that stage? Can I “police” somebody’s reactions on that stage?) I imagine now we have achieved the work of making certain affordable compliance with the coverage. Any particular language and method you can provide can be appreciated!

Yeah, they will’t be impolite to coworkers.

In the event that they’re persevering with to have points with fragrances past what your coverage covers, there must be a much bigger dialog about easy methods to clear up that. Would it not assist in the event that they wore a masks? Do they want a devoted workspace that nobody else makes use of? A fan arrange at any area they’re going to work in? Is the issue extreme sufficient that they need to be working remotely, if that’s doable for his or her job?

These are all affordable options they (and also you) ought to contemplate. Visibly speaking “you stink” to coworkers isn’t.

That’s the dialog I’d recommend having with them. Take them at face worth that fragrances proceed to be a problem for them, and inform them that their present methodology of addressing it isn’t an possibility so let’s determine what you and so they can do.

In the event that they’re not open to attempting any of these options — or if they struggle them however the conduct continues — then the dialog is, “That is what our coverage is. If there are particular lodging you possibly can suggest that may provide help to work extra comfortably, I would like you to boost them with me so we will attempt to resolve this. However you can not proceed behaviors like X and Y.”

(But additionally, since you’re employed in a public-facing atmosphere, I’m curious whether or not this worker is doing this round patrons too, or solely round coworkers. It sounds prefer it’s solely occurring round coworkers, which might be fairly pointed … and, presumably, controllable on the worker’s finish.)

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