I am a newcomer at my company and there is a colleague (with 7 years of experience) that I regularly caught playing on-line games on working hours. I have talked about it to some other colleagues but they are ignoring the issue because the guy has done a lot to the company and is a close friend of the boss. What can I do to escalate this issue in a professional way to my boss, without putting my career into jeopardy ?
There is a story that Henry Ford was told that one of his managers was making a habit of sitting back in his chair with his feet up on his desk. Ford pointed out that the manager had come up with an idea that saved Ford a lot of money, while sitting that way.
When working on really difficult computer design and debug problems I would sometimes play computer games for a while to let ideas settle and free my mind up, especially if my thinking was going round in circles. I have even got the initial idea for a patentable invention while playing games. I am sure that if a newbie had reported my game playing to my colleagues or my manager they would have ignored it, other than as an indication that the newbie was paying attention to things unrelated to their job.
If thinking is part of someone's job the only way to tell whether they are working or not is by whether they are achieving useful results. Your game-playing colleague has done a lot with the company, and therefore is probably working.
Concentrate on doing your own job, and doing it well.
You should NOT escalate it, unless there is a productivity problem.
You're new in the company, so playing games if you have nothing to do may be the accepted norm, or some sort of unwritten rule.
Do your colleague deliver everything on time, is professional when needed, replies to mail in a way that lets you do your job smoothly? If yes, then you have no real problem, and you should avoid taking this moral crusade against the guy.
If you seriously want to do something about it, try to have an informal chat with him (without being aggressive). Maybe just making him know that he has been discovered will be enough to reduce his gaming hours. Be extremely careful with this approach, as it's easy to anger a person by making him notice his mistakes.
If this actually becomes a productivity problem, you should report the exact problem (missed delivery, not replying to questions..) to management, and let them do the rest. Do not mention gaming unless specifically asked.
What can I do to escalate this issue in a professional way to my boss, without putting my career into jeopardy ?
Unless your job is Productivity Clerk and your main task is to spy on others and report their behavior to your boss, then you don't escalate this issue.
You are a newcomer and perhaps this is your first job ever. Eventually you will learn that you need to focus on your job, your work, and not the work of others. This colleague has a boss. That boss is the only one who needs to be concerned with the work of this colleague - not you.
Just do your own job and don't worry about your colleagues.
So you're probably thinking of this as a bad situation. IT ISN"T. Its a great situation. Here's why: Your boss can't get mad at you for bringing it up. You need to do it very carefully though, subtly at first. Just hint at what your talking about, and if he bites bring the full thing up. Perhaps start saying you need clarification on what activities are acceptable during work hours, or you need clarification on what to do with freetime. If he pretends to not know what your talking about, retreat and bring it up again. If he bites though it will give you a good opportunity to learn about your work environment. Remember: a company is made of people, corporate success is people success.