Dear Amy: There is a lady who works in our office who never washes her hands after using the toilet. She comes out of the stall, turns the water on and off quickly so it sounds as if she is washing them. Lately she has not even been using water. She runs her hand over the auto paper towel dispenser and wipes her hands on the towel.
She also has a very bad hygiene problem. She smells so bad that you can hardly be near her. You can plainly see that her clothing is dirty. She also has chronic infections that add to the odor. This is a very delicate situation as she is also physically challenged, and she comes from an agency that helps place challenged employees. She is a hard worker and everyone likes her.
At Christmas, all the employees took up a collection and put together a basketful of household items like soaps, detergents, towels, shampoos, etc. Our human resources department contacted her agency and informed them of the situation. They were supposed to have talked with her, but we have not noticed any change.
BAFFLED AT WORK
Dear Baffled: A basket of products doesn't help if the person doesn't know how (or is unable) to clean herself or her clothing, but I give you all a lot of credit for being so sensitive and generous about it.
I have spoken to professional managers who have had to tackle the hygiene issue with workers. Your manager or HR representative should do this privately with your co-worker and be compassionate and specific about what she needs to do. If this co-worker doesn't have laundry facilities where she lives, this might be a significant obstacle.