Do Your Employees Stink?

Every business that meets face to face with it’s customers needs to concern itself with how its employees smell. The matter of basic hygiene where you probably expect your employees adhere to normal standards. At issue is each persons definition of normal hygiene standards.

Employee smell may be more involved than having taken a bath and using deodorant. Many people, and this is a more common trait in women, are especially sensitive to smells. For these people, a scent or fragrance that goes unnoticed by most of us, is noticed by these people.

Small business can not afford to lose customers because of an offensive smelling employee. If a new customer visits your business, and is turned off by the way the employee smells, you have lost a sale and a repeat customer. Customers are the most valuable asset a company has.

Depending on where your business is located, employee hygiene changes. However, it is not unreasonable to put in place general guidelines for your employees. Requesting how employees smell while at work is not unreasonable. With a little creativity, smell or lack of  could become part of your companies culture.

Customers prefer to smell food and not your employee!

Common smells that will turn off some first time and repeat customers are:

Body odor. Acceptable body odor varies from area to area, and country to country. No matter what the standard is, some people manage to go beyond what is acceptable.

Bad breath. Bad breath is a turn off for most people. If an employee is in a customer’s personal space and they haven’t brushed their teeth in a few days, or have eaten strong food such as garlic, the customer is not going to appreciate it.

Smoking, whether using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes leaves an odor on employees many customers can do without. You probably can not deem that your employees do not smoke or use electronic cigarettes, but you should be able to prohibit use of these products in and around the workplace. This is not an assault on people using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes, but creates an awareness for employees who work in close contact with their customer.

Laundry detergent, fabric softener and scented dryer sheets. Some of the individual scents each brings to our clothes may be okay. Mixed together these strong scents are sometimes too much.

Personal body soap, bar soap and shampoo are often contribute to how we smell to others. This is especially true for some shampoos targeted at women, though men are now being targeted too. Shampoo that has a strong exotic flower scent, or a trademark scent is great for a night out on the town, but may be a turnoff in the work environment.

Perfume and cologne can be a real problem too. An employee using either product, especially if they are younger or older, may not have a sense of the correct amount to use. Add a little warm air, and a strong scent becomes overpowering.

No one wants to see their food being prepared by someone whose hands look like they were cleaning engine parts earlier, gloves or not. No one wants to helped by someone whose personal smell makes them want to vomit.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness contribute to the success or failure of a customer oriented business. Your lost customer won’t bother telling you they won’t return because one your employees who assisted them stinks literally – to the customer.

There is no one size fits all standard for employee cleanliness. Each business is different and its needs are varied. However, business owners, managers and employees need to be aware of the effect their cleanliness habits or lack thereof have on the repeat customer base.

As uncomfortable as it may be, these situations are manageable during the interview process. Put your expectations out there for prospective employees to hear. Let them know before being hired what your employee hygiene expectations are. This way no one is surprised in a future moment.