Should Employees Wear Perfume and Cologne? The Workplace Challenges Brought About by Perfume and Cologne

Many employees consider perfume and cologne as much a part of their professional attire as their shoes. However, for those employees who do not wear scent or may even be allergic to it, the thought of spending another day next to the perfume bottle can make going to work an agonizing task. If the issue goes unaddressed, a small problem can turn into a mountain of trouble.

Employees and leaders have a responsibility to create and foster a positive working environment for all employees. This includes monitoring the various scents and aromas that can impact a typical work day. If a scent is too strong or otherwise inappropriate, the issue needs to be resolved in order for the office to return to a normal, productive work day. While it may seem like a simple concern to resolve, the emotions involved can turn it into a challenge if not handled properly.

Is the Scent too Strong?

Employees that have worn perfume or cologne for a long period of time may not notice that the scent is overwhelming to others. The following suggestions may help managers address the issue, and help the offenders decide on their own whether the scent is too strong:

  • Can the person wearing the perfume or cologne smell it?
  • Has the person wearing the scent asked others whether it is too strong?
  • Has the person wearing the perfume or cologne overheard comments by others?

Managers’ Responsibilities

When employees voice their concerns that a coworker is wearing too much perfume, managers should investigate the situation as soon as possible. When looking into the issues, managers should:

  • Judge whether they can smell the perfume themselves
  • Tactfully ask other employees whether they have noticed the increased scent
  • Discuss the concerns with the person wearing the perfume
  • Ask the person wearing the perfume to wear less of it
  • If possible, separate the desks of the two employees involved in the conflict

Managers should never ignore the situation and hope that it will go away. If the situation goes unaddressed, the offended employee may begin to call in sick or seek medical attention to remedy their situation. The organization will certainly lose productivity and experience increased health care costs. All of which can be avoided by addressing the situation as it happens.

People often wear perfume or cologne to make them feel good about themselves, and the decision to wear it should be their own. But, they must be considerate of their coworkers and understand that what smells pleasant to them may be offensive to others. Managers must use tact and discretion when addressing the issues and should understand that both parties will be emotionally invested in the issue.