I recently reviewed an article from a practice consultant suggesting that there should be a formal "grooming" policy in the office.  Some of the suggestions were:

  • Daily showers – Given the climate in Australia it is necessary to shower each day and to use deodorant so as to avoid body odour
  • Shirts and underclothes – it is expected freshly laundered clothes will be worn each day
  • Teeth – it is expected teeth will be cleaned and any problems with bad breath, dealt with
  • Hair – should be kept clean and tidy.
  • Beards – are to be trimmed
  • Perfume – please use only mild perfume, as some people may be allergic to strong perfume
  • Nails and Hands – It is important hands and nails clean and nails filed

And it went on from there.

I find this a bit hard to take seriously, "motherhood" statements are rarely useful in my view and I think getting new staff to read and sign policies along these lines is ridiculous.

Having said that, in years gone by we have had two instances of personal hygiene issues that caused angst in the office; one related to body odour and the second to bad breath.  These created a serious question, how should we deal with them?

The easy approach was to just let it go and put up with the situation.  Easy in the sense of not having to confront the issue and the persons involved, but obviously that does not really address the issue.

So, in each case we took the plunge and discussed the issue with the staff member.  Although it was a bit awkward for both parties, it was taken in a constructive manner and the matter was dealt with. 

The message?
  • Putting behavioral matters into a "motherhood" policy document is unlikely to win respect or get a result
  • Don't put off dealing with the hard tasks, such as behavioural matters.  Generally they won't go away by themselves, so have the courage to confront and deal with them


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