I'm wondering if I'm being loyal enough and how much of a heads up I should give a colleague whose job will disappear.

My place of work has been reorganising, and one of the consequences is the previously existing datawarehouse has disappeared. My co-worker whose main responsibility was managing this datawarehouse seems to be expecting he will do something similar when we get a replacement for the datawarehouse.

However, I know that under the intended new setup, providing the business with insight will entail more responsibilities than just database administration. I know this because I was asked to apply for the new function (and I intend to apply).

Should I tell him? How should I tell him and what?

To clarify: my intention is to help him. I know something he does not and it concerns him. So is there any way i can use what i know to help him?

Edit 2: He was told recently he will lose his job, and it was a complete surprise. I'm left wondering if telling him sooner would have in any way objectively improved his situation, i think not.

  • 96
    Have you considered that he also may have been asked to apply for the new role too?
    – AdzzzUK
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 11:24
  • 19
    Possible duplicate of Is it advisable to tell my colleague that he is getting fired?
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 13:51
  • 3
    Is the new position going to be publicly advertised?
    – 1006a
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 19:37
  • 3
    It depends, not enough context: a) how likely is he to lose his job? b) do they do internal transfers? c) do they want to keep him? d) how hireable is he? e) would you recommend him? f) do they pay good severance? g) how easily can he find another job? h) is he a friend? The answer could vary depending on "he'll never get a job again and not be able to pay his mortgage", to "will find something within a couple of weeks". Also, you don't have to reveal any secrets, you might just say something vague like "It seems to me there are some layoffs coming up".
    – smci
    Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 9:33
  • 1
    @smci a) not sure, b) yes, c) not sure d) not really e) not really f) dont know g) not really f) no
    – Koinc
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:07

8 Answers 8


Personally, I wouldn't. If your colleague is going to be made redundant due to a restructure, then this is for HR to disclose and not yourself.

Ideally, you shouldn't even know about his job security and, as it's not certain, would only cause him to worry or panic.

Leave it with HR for now, they'll find out soon enough.

  • 4
    Agreed, in this case mouth shut eyes forward. This will happen from time to time and there isn't much you can do or say to help.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 12:33
  • 107
    Completely agree. For the you shouldn't even know about his job security... I would even go as far as to say the OP likely doesn't. It's fairly presumptuous to assume that management will simply want to lose this employees expertise simply because of the sunset of one warehouse. The OP has been given a glimpse into one specific area of the department's strategic plan but it is dangerous to assume that this glimpse represents the whole picture.
    – user48276
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 13:29
  • 2
    Taking it a step further: given the OP is supposed to be applying for this new job I'd say that the OP doesn't have job security in this merger either.
    – NotMe
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 1:15

Ask yourself this question: imagine you tell him, he applies for the job, gets the job, you don't, you don't get another job and during the mentioned re-organisation you're the one getting fired. How will you feel?

If you answer that with

I will feel good because I will feel having done the right thing."

then go ahead and tell him.

If you however answer that with

I will feel bad for not having a job anymore.

then don't tell him.

  • This seems like a fair point but consider this: a company that has an opening and an employee who would be excellent in the new position but is currently in another position, would of course invite that employee and all other suitable employees to apply. Unless those employees were more useful in other positions.
    – Koinc
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:01

I would not tell him, as it is not your job to do so. The correct person/department will inform him about the changes in the company and the dissappearance of your colleagues job.

  • 9
    @Draken This was only posted a minute after theonlydanever's answer, and before AFriendlyGuy's answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 11:48
  • 3
    @Draken i just saw that theonlydanever posted his answer slightly earlier. Probably submitted his while i was creating my answer. Dont have to be so stuck up about it
    – user83221
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 11:52
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    @F1Krazy This is not the Fastest Gun in the West competition. A better written answer is still better even if it was posted later. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 12:28
  • 5
    This answer adds zip.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 12:34
  • 6
    Obviously deleting an answer that repeats a point is not considered best practice by the community, since it almost never happens, as the amount of questions with six-plus answers by hi-rep users spread across several hours all stating the same thing shows.
    – user53718
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 17:07

I'd keep it to myself and let HR do their job.

There might be alot of information that we don't know about. What if they have a really favourable position at a different department for your colleague lined up? You telling him might make him miss that amazing oppertunity. Maybe they already contacted him about it.

And even if they do intend to lay him off, would you telling him be beneficial enough to warrant the risk?


Not something to share. For one thing, suppose you inadvertantly get it wrong, or he gets the wrong idea. Now its a problem for you as well.

  • Share if you care. Karma is one helluva bitch.
    – rapt
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 14:29

I disagree with all the other answers.

Tell him what's happening, and what you intend to do.

Management and HR may not like it if you do that, but that's because they benefit from information asymmetry. That's purely about their own jobs. It's hard to argue that a company is damaged by having an informed workforce.

You do not stop being a human being when you walk through the office door. Have the conversation with your co-worker after hours and off-site if you prefer, but it's the human thing to do.

  • 1
    This probably would have been the right thing to do. Its a bit difficult as I'm not really that close to him, and we have nowhere near the office for off-site coffee. Besides the whole situation makes me want to build a pillow-fort.
    – Koinc
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:03

I have another point to you - you may get fired for telling him. For breaking your contract's confidentiality agreement, either explicit (in the contract) or implicitly (in work law in most countries).

If heh as not been informed - it is not your job to disclose it and it is a breach of confidentiality.

Whiyh you agreed on.

Which means - you willing to break your own commitments to tell him?

  • Fortunately i work on the 4th floor, not 666 floors down.
    – Koinc
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:15

Open heads-up is possible without interfering with HR's job. You can carefully help him by a note:

I have information that organizational changes in our part of company will go deeper than it might look. Everyone including me and you should be prepared for eventuality of being no longer necessary. I am saying this because the information I have looks serious and it is better for each of us to be prepared to find a new job.

  • This way, you are not doing unnecessary statements on who will lose the job and who will remain, because anything can theoretically happen (even that you will leave and he will be kept), but this way you are still passing the message which you want him to know. (To understand that also future of his job might not be secure.) I think this is open and truthful approach which can be helpful to him, if he considers your remark seriously.

In fact, even if I was managing a team, I would pass this information openly to the entire team. To be early aware of more radical oncoming changes with possible impact on our jobs (without details who will be let go, maybe they are not definite anyway) is my service to my team.

  • I absolutely, would not put this in writing, it leaves a paper trail, which (a) makes it easier to demonstrate that you actually said it and (b) will really piss management off as it may compromise them legally. I might say it to him, but if I did I would expect questions from him if said as gravely as you have put it. I remember telling a colleague I had a new job offer once and he very CASUALLY told me to take it because he knew there were problems in our company. Just as well, as I did take the offer. A month later the company folded and I never got paid for my last 2 days of work there. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 1:08
  • @LevelRiverSt – sure, definitely not in writing, good catch, thank you.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 1:28

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