One of my coworkers just told me he's put his resume out there and just had a phone interview - he did this on site, at our office!

This is not a duplicate of Should I raise concerns about a co-worker possibly leaving? ; in that post, the poster had already told their immediate supervisor and it seemed not to be getting up the chain. I work in a much smaller office, and, my coworker has told me he is scared of being fired - for reasons which are not reasonable - but I have repeatedly told him (truthfully) that everything I've heard strongly suggests his boss has no plans to replace him anytime soon.

This is also not a duplicate of Should I inform my manager that a colleague is looking for another job if I was told that in confidence? because I did not promise that I would not say anything to anyone. The highest voted, accepted answer to that question says:

Don't tell your boss that your colleague is looking for another job. You explicitly state you told the colleague that is leaving you would not say anything. Just on general principle you should not say anything. Let the managers manage, and keep your honor intact.

This is a conclusion based on premises that are not applicable here.

Anyway, I am in an uncomfortable position now. I don't know whether I should:

  1. Keep this to myself - it was told in confidence; he didn't explicitly say it but he did basically whisper it to me after both of our bosses had left for the day.
  2. Say something along the lines of "<coworker> seems really worried lately and had made some off-hand comments about you being unhappy with his work. You might want to give him some encouragement because he seemed really worried about things" if it comes up, but don't go out of my way to say anything
  3. Go out of my way to tell my boss

As far as my relationship with this coworker goes, we've hung out maybe 4 times outside of the office in the last year (he's only been working here a year); I consider him a friend but by no means a close friend. But now he's forcing me to decide between loyalty to him and loyalty to my company. What should I do?

Update:

I took @JeffO's advice and pulled my coworker aside this morning and told him that he can't be talking to me about his own interview process and why it's a conflict of interest for me. He understood, agreed, and said he would not discuss it with me anymore.

marked as duplicate by Jim G., IDrinkandIKnowThings, user9158, Garrison Neely, Chris E Mar 2 '15 at 19:42

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • @JimG. edited my post – durron597 Feb 23 '15 at 23:31
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    You say you consider him a friend. After you tell your boss, he certainly won't consider you a friend anymore, but a backstabber, to say the least. I can't see why you feel uncomfortable about this; just keep your mouth shut, just as you would want him to keep his mouth shut if it was the other way round. – gnasher729 Feb 23 '15 at 23:39
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    Yeah, this IS a duplicate of "inform my manager if told in confidence," because your coworker's expectation is that it is, obviously. – mxyzplk Feb 24 '15 at 3:57
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    If this person wanted your boss to know he might be leaving then he would have told him. somebody shouldn't have to say "don't tell the boss" he told you this in confidence. – Ramhound Feb 24 '15 at 3:58
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    Where are the duplicate question hunters now (when they are ACTUALLY needed)? Both questions cited have answers which indicate why tattling is a horrible thing to do (aside from whether or not a "confidentiality" promise was made). To OP: don't do this if you value your reputation in the office. – teego1967 Feb 24 '15 at 11:34
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think you need to get some things straight with this person before you can make a decision unless there is more to it than you are telling us.

Your "friend" should have kept his mouth shut and completed his personal business away from the office. He intentionally has put you in a bind. Ask him to explain the following:

  1. What is your friend going to say if you boss wants to know if he told you about this previously? The boss may want to know if he needs to inform you or not. Is your friend going to lie?
  2. How hard is your friend going to work to help you with the transition? Will he take the time to do extra documentation on his projects?
  3. Is your friend going to give ample notice? Will he hold off for a more convenient time?

You may be required to pick up the slack in his absence. This isn't just about the two of you against the company. No one wants to be a tattle-tale or burn bridges with a coworker, but it is a two-way street (enough of the cliches).

Maybe after this conversation, you can decide how much you want to protect his privacy compared to protecting your situation.

  • You are absolutely right. I need to talk to my coworker about this and explain the situation he has put me in. I suspect he doesn't even realize. – durron597 Feb 24 '15 at 4:52
  • I second this. Unless a colleague also is a friend, don't put them in a loyalty conflict. – Sascha May 26 '17 at 16:46

It really isn't your place to say anything. What do you hope to gain by saying something to your boss? If your co-worker is already on the path to a new position with a different company it doesn't seem like there's much you can do to stop them. And if you aren't that close anyway, why would you want to?

Regardless of how close you are, I'd start with talking to him. Let him know how uncomfortable this makes you and how you feel now that he has entrusted you with a "secret" so to speak.

If you say anything to your boss, even the round-about method, it's going to raise red flags. I would keep this one close personally.

I had the same situation before, we were two seniors in the same company, and the CEO was planning to promote me to be Technical Manager. my coworker found another job and he told me that he is going to submit his resignation today!! and he asked me to not tell the CEO, because he wants to think for how to do that. indeed, for me, i smelled a dirty game in this. Once the CEO arrived to the company, I told him the whole story, and that X has asked me not to tell you. The CEO was shocked about his request to hide this, but he said that is fine.
after less than an hour, he visited the CEO in office and told him that he is going to leave the company and that he told me about this already to arrange for handover from him!!!
The CEO phoned me directly, and asked me to join them in the office, and he asked me
CEO: did X tell you that he is going to leave?
ME: Yes
CEO: do you have any arrangement for his resignation
Me: Yes, I know a good replacement for him
CEO: Great,, X, Good luck!
and this case promoted me instead of being backward point for me with my CEO

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    This is bad advice. It's possible that the OPs superiors may value a lack of integrity (as you claim yours do), but that is no basis for a decision. Also I doubt many managers would approve of this behaviour anyway. – Nathan Cooper Mar 1 '15 at 0:45

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