How to Deal with an Employee with Regular Wind?
Thankfully this issue doesn’t come up that often but dealing with an employee with wind is always a sensitive issue much like body odour.
How would you address an issue of an employee with regular wind, who tells you that they have IBS. In addition what would you do to address those colleagues taking matters into their own hands?
Firstly, the employee with the IBS needs you to support them, they will be hugely embarassed; and the fact that they have told you that there is a medical explanation for their problem is very important.
Ask to work with them to explore whether there are any solutions that would mitigate the issue of their wind. What ideas have they got which could be reasonable adjustments you could make? Can they take additional toilet breaks? Can they work from home when they are particularly struggling with their IBS? Can you reconfigure the office so if it happens it is less noticeable? Perhaps an occupational health referral could help or you could support them to have time off to see their GP.
With regards to those colleagues who have come to you, there’s nothing wrong with someone asking what’s the score? There’s is something very wrong with the colleague who has sprayed air freshener in their colleagues face, and told them they stink! This colleague should face disciplinary action. It is never OK to take such actions towards a colleague, whatever the circumstances. It’s bullying and unacceptable.
For the colleague that came to you saying “It Smelt So Bad I was Sick in the Toilet” you empathise. That must have been very unpleasant for them. But I would ask how they would feel if their colleague had been sick at their desk, or lost control of their bowels in the office. All of which and worse has occured in my 20+ years experience of work. It was only wind. I would ask them to think about how bad their colleague is feeling and how they would want to be treated if they had this problem.
Wind is not a HR issue, but employee well-being is. I have seen banter turn into bullying for much less, and where we are dealing with a health issue such as IBS rather than over-consumption of baked beans, your employees need you to steer a path through the situation.
For help with this and other HR issues, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01527 909436.