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.
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. 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.
Do you have any ideas?
-- Baffled at work
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. The placement agency should be proactive and helpful and should follow through with the employee.
Dear Amy: You answered a question from a "Mom" regarding her 13-year-old son losing his retainer. She wanted him to be financially responsible for its replacement.
I think your answer was a little off-base -- merely telling kids that if they lose something they are financially responsible gives them little incentive to replace it, especially if they didn't want it in the first place.
What is at issue here is not the cost of the retainer, but the responsibility of taking care of something. I'd tell the mom to make this about responsibility. "If you lose your retainer again, I'll have to assume you're not responsible enough to do X." Taking away something the kid actually wants will probably go further than trying to have him pay for something.
Dear Lisa: I agree with your solution. The child needs to see the connection and understand that this is about responsibility. Thank you.
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