I monitor the internet usage throughout the business and then submit a report to the MD.

On one report it shows a colleague has been looking for a job extensively in working hours.

I know if I submit this report the colleague will have a really bad time from the MD, plus they have just lost a close relative.

What is the preferred way to deal with this situation?

  • 2
    What are you supposed to be looking for: time wasting or inappropriate sites? or both? Aug 7, 2013 at 11:17
  • 1
    Gentlemen don't read each other's mail. Henry L. Stimson Aug 7, 2013 at 12:19
  • @DeerHunter - what are "Gentlemen"?
    – Oded
    Aug 7, 2013 at 12:36
  • 7
    also tell us where you work to never apply there. Aug 7, 2013 at 13:40
  • 1
    Do you think Your job will be at risk if you try to cover up for him? After all you would be willingly going against your boss's instructions for you to monitor and report on the use-age.
    – user5305
    Aug 8, 2013 at 8:15

3 Answers 3


I monitor the internet usage throughout the business and then submit a report to the MD.

I will assume this is part of your job description - meaning that you are supposed to find irregularities and report on those.

Now, I understand that you have a problem with reporting on a colleague. The fact that the colleague may be going through a rough patch, is not relevant. You must also be indifferent to the specific irregularity (i.e. job searching, surfing for porn, using social network). This is your job.

In boils down to two choices you can make:

  • Tell the MD, as you are supposed to. It is up to the MD to decide what to do and is outside your control. You don't really know what they will do, after all.
  • Not tell the MD. Two eventualities here - either the MD never finds out or they do. If they do - it is your job on the line and you will be in trouble for not reporting it.

What is the preferred way to deal with this situation?

The preferred way is to simply do your job.

Presumably you aren't picking out patterns in the internet usage and concluding on your own that "This colleague is looking for a job"?

So, if it's your job to monitor internet usage and report it to management, then just do it without any editorial comment. If that causes embarrassment to a colleague, then that is just an unfortunate consequence of your job. Doing anything else could put your job in jeopardy.

Presumably, this colleague already knows that internet usage is monitored and reported to management. You might gently remind her/him of this fact.

  • 1
    Agreed you need to just do your job, you probably don't know the full story. Maybe they know the colleague is going to move due to the loss, and have sanctioned the search. They may be expecting to say to you "don't worry about that Jonah", and if you never bring it up you it may just start a suspicion about your work. Aug 7, 2013 at 11:22

It sounds like this person is miserable regardless of whether you report them or not. It appears they're entering a transition phase that involves eventual separation, so nothing you're going to do is really going to make things much worse - or any better. Does the MD know that this person has had a family loss? If not, you might mention that in an addendum.

'Really bad time' is vague - does this mean someone is going to get lectured? Do they care?

The last time I was working for a company as an employee I would bring up the Craigslist listings once a day at work. My interest in this was to see what skills were in most demand - I wasn't actively seeking anything. I was in and out of the site in three minutes most of the time. 'Significant' amounts of time would have to be more than 20 minutes a day outside of break times. This would be even more so if it was obvious they were submitting resumes and corresponding with hiring managers.

I've seen (but can't believe) that employers would continue to pay people that don't show up for work for weeks. You may discover that the employee is retained until they get a new offer, even if half their day is non-productive. The MD may not be in the mood to separate someone that has been there ten years+, even if the separation is justified. The best thing to do is stand back and let matters take their course.

Of course, if you're watching them, someone is watching you. If the table were turned, would you appreciate it? If not, it might be a good idea to find a working environment where people don't snoop on each other.

  • 'On one report it shows a colleague has been looking for a job extensively in working hours.' Anyone know why? The point of the above discussion is to step into the shoes of someone that might be going through a life transition. I've seen people looking for work on company time, and those people pretty much didn't care what the employer thought. Aug 7, 2013 at 20:25

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