An engineering colleague of mine has been planning on leaving for the last several months and is leaving in about a months time. Over this period, the engineering department has not been aware of this as HR advised him not to notify engineering.

We are both graduate engineers but he has been there a few months longer than I have. I am aware of this as the colleague told me privately several months ago.

Training for tools we use are expensive, and engineering has not had the funds to send some of us on training, and this colleague was one selected to be funded for training as engineering planned to put him on the next major project.

As this colleague is supposed to be on the next major project (which he will leave before it starts), he annoyingly got me booted of going on a trip as it was deemed 'it would be more valuable to the company if he went'.

Finally, I managed to wrangle myself a decent work area in the company, and now they are saying they are upgrading him in the next couple weeks by swapping our workstations because he will be on a major project.

As you can see, someone who is leaving without notifying engineering has taken a training place (costing several thousand), got me booted from a valuable trip and now is trying to take my work area - and I have been keeping my silence for this guy while simultaneously getting burned for it.

Should I hold my silence, or should I notify our manager?

  • 23
    Have you checked whether your colleague still intends to leave? Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 20:29
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    Why in the world they would tell your colleague not to give notice? Are they axing the department?
    – Layman
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 20:30
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    Has HR known for 7 months? What is the standard notice period at your company?
    – sf02
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 21:52
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    I don't know what "planning on leaving for the last several months" means: muttering about it/threatening to do it, interviewing, accepted offer, actually gave notice (when?)? There are some people who constantly threaten to do it, as a negotiation tool. (I knew one person who did it for about a year, got multiple raises and training). Don't get sucked into his game, just negotiate hard for yourself (without disclosing confidences).
    – smci
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 22:47
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    Just to be clear, he told you that (a) he's leaving in about a month, (b) he told HR, (c) HR told him not to tell anyone in engineering, and (d) he told you, right? Do you have any confirmation for anything he said? Were you told this in confidence? Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 16:08

7 Answers 7


Have you considered that he is getting all these goodies as a way to try to convince him to stay? From people who know very well he intends to leave? Sharing information you were told in confidence is never going to look good on you.

If your own HR department knows of his plans and has not told any of the people who make decisions, then your company is very unusual. Chances are, the decision makers have been quietly told, but the rest of engineering has not. This allows for a handover process that is controlled by the decision makers, and not by individuals thinking "I'm not going to any trouble for that coworker, who is leaving, it's not worth it."

If you tell a manager or other decision maker who already knows, you'll look like someone who can't keep a confidence and wants to meddle or challenge decisions. If you tell someone who doesn't know, you may find some of their anger over it lands on you. Either way, it is unlikely to help you.

In a very small company, quietly going to someone who needs to know something and telling them may be helpful (though not always in a way you expect.) But in a place large enough to have HR, it probably won't. I would advise you to stay in your lane and work well, so that when they are wondering who can take the place of this departing engineer - who should be on the big project, who should get the good work area, who should get the training - you naturally come to mind. You have information others don't: you can get value from a spurt of hard work until this person leaves.

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    @JoeStrazzere At one company I worked at, a colleague was given early retirement, but told by HR that they weren't allowed to inform anyone (including his Manager!) until 4 weeks before his end-date. They also said that he had to use his remaining Annual Leave for the year, so that the company didn't have to pay it. With long-service bonus leave, carry-over from the year before, and the lack of leave taken so far that year, it came to... 19 days. So his Manager found out 1 day before he went on almost 4 weeks of "garden leave". Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:09
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    I agree - it doesn't sound like he really intends to leave for certain. If he were leaving he would want someone else to get the training and the big new project. I suspect he has "confided" in a few of his peers, in order to lend credence to what he has told HR, and that the managers know already. I find it suspicious that the departure date, announced months ago, falls just prior to the start of a big project. It suggests this "plan" is just a manipulative lie.
    – sharon
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 15:55
  • I know someone who was told "we're eliminating your position" by the head of the department, who did not tell my friend's manager. The manager found out when my friend came into the manager's office with a consolation bottle of whiskey on my friend's last day. Friend and manager were close, and neither liked department head.
    – shoover
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 17:23
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    If that is the case, and they are giving the goodies to colleague to convince him to stay, it is at expense of OP. Shouldn't he notify HR himself that he knows colleagues plans to leave? In his shoes, I would take offense at the company and start looking for a new job.
    – lvella
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:05
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    This times a thousand. An employee is not gone until they are gone. HR knows that word travels fast through the grapevine and it definitely seems like this situation has the power to lower morale if discovered early; OP's quandary is a perfect example of how an entire department may start acting. If the employee is convinced to stay then I really hope OP does not catch wind of their pay bump. Also, if this employee is devious enough then he could be setting up OP for a trap; get OP to leave and all of the sudden the other employee is more valuable.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:19

Until your coworker gives his official notice, then he is not officially leaving. Lots of things can change over the course of months. Your coworker could stay on for years, especially if he is now getting a big project. Trying to rat him out, could easily backfire, and all he has to do is deny having any plans to leave.


Should I hold my silence, or should I notify our manager?

Well, with all due respect, I think you should mind your own business. This thing is something between this colleague and HR... it would be wise to stay out of matters that do not involve you.

If HR suggested this to your colleague then there should be a reason why, but again, is not something you should be interfering with.

By revealing such thing you would not only be meddling with other's affairs (and perhaps affect your colleague negatively), but could also backfire on you.

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    totally agree with the "mind your own business". During work, if I get the urge to do X, I ask three questions: is doing X part of my job description? Did someone on my command chain tell me to do X? Can I with absolute certainty match doing X with corporate objective / advantage Y? If the answer to all three is NO then X is going to be ignored. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 11:14
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    @pipe perhaps op mentioned some things, however, disclosing a colleagues plans and aspects does not though... It even seemed op thought about doing that as some sort of revenge for the other things mentioned, which would have been worse.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 14:10

I think it's important to keep the promise to your colleague to not reveal something they told you in confidence. But given that your relationship is strong enough to where your colleague is willing to confide you, I recommend talking to him directly about what's going. Going to the manager about this will paint you as a rat to your whole company and hurt your working relationship with your colleague. No good can come of this.

I similarly had a colleague confide in me that he had plans of leaving and was waiting for a final job offer to come through (He already gave a verbal commitment). When my colleague committed to projects I knew he wouldn't be around for, I didn't say anything publicly, but I chatted with him one-on-one about it. My colleague told me until the final job offer comes through, he needed to make sure management didn't get the idea he was going to leave. Hence, he committed to projects in the future. I agreed with him that's absolutely the right call.


There is much more to this situation than the question whether to tell your superior or not.

Unless you are volunteering or doing charity work, you should always do only what's in your own interest. For example, helping your employer out in a short term, yes, but only if it means future stability and continuation of work relationship which is beneficial to you. This website is full of questions which basically boil down to the interests of an employee not being aligned with their employer anymore. Which for me, as you describe it, could be your case as well.

First, sharing confidential information never works to your benefit in the long run. So no, don't tell your superior, it won't do you any good.

But I want to go further than all the other answers basically just saying no. If I were in your position, I'd have a good look at my prospects with the company doing its best to lose you.

There are two possible reasons why HR told your coworker not to notify engineering:

  1. They want to manage the distribution of the news and/or try to keep him. There is no malevolence in this, its perfectly understandable. But as you describe it, they want to keep your coworker at your expense. Your company clearly signals to you that you are second class employee. In that case you need either to talk to your superiors and find out whether there is a chance for you to become first class employee (and how are you supposed to do it when training is not available to you) or decide whether remaining second class employee long-term is acceptable for you and your career. Think about what would happen if your coworker stays few months or years more - do you happen to have a more comfortable chair your coworker may be happy with for the important project? Note that you could observe all this without knowledge of your coworkers intent, so you don't need to mention a bit of it when negotiating.

  2. Your HR doesn't want Engineering to know. In that case you work for what is called a toxic company. While it sometimes is beneficial to work for a toxic company short-term, it usually never is in the long run. As you have already been, in your eyes, deprived of a number of benefits, from what you've written here it doesn't look like you could turn the tables and get all available benefits short term while looking for a better place. It looks like your coworker did just that - at your expense.


Have you talked with this co-worker who you say is leaving? If you feel you must discuss this with anyone, that seems to be the person to talk with. They are the one person you can talk to without betraying a promise of privacy. They can also address what is going on.

Admittedly, the following is speculative: It seems likely to me that you'll find that the situation has changed and that this person has changed their minds and decided to stay. Providing this person training and a better work space was likely part of the deal to keep them. Regardless of whether my speculation is correct, you will (hopefully) find out what is going on.

Afterward, you may have decisions to make yourself. If the employer is making an effort to keep this co-worker, you might want to consider having a discussion with management and/or HR regarding the issues about which you are dissatisfied, like the training and work space. Just keep in mind that the organization may not have the means to give this sort of thing to you and him (and maybe others) and he's already gotten it. Thus, issuing some sort of ultimatum may put you in a situation where you have to leave or show that your threats don't mean anything.


IMHO, in case you notify your manager, it may seem as jealousy.

That being said, i don`t see any issue you dropping that in unofficial conversation, in case you communicate off work.

Being a bit intoxicated can give you reasonable doubt of your intentions ;)

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    Just to be clear, your suggestion is essentially "get drunk and start gossiping"?
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:24
  • Exactly,i have met my share of individuals that felt everything should be theirs for no other reason that they can lie and cheat everyone around them. These types love to share their exploits with details how exactly they circumvented the system and what they got for it
    – Strader
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 13:22
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    Someone hire this guy for HR!
    – mxmissile
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 16:19

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