Making the decision about whether or not to squeal on a co-worker isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. The decision can impact not just your co-worker’s job, but also your own.
Before deciding whether or not to snitch or remain silent, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of telling.
Pro- Protect Yourself
Telling your boss about a co-worker’s bad behavior is one way to protect yourself. By telling your boss what is happening, it will help demonstrate that you aren’t participating in the behavior.
This can be especially important if the activity is harmful to the company or even illegal. For example, if you’ve got a co-worker stealing money from the company and you don’t tell, you may be held liable if you are aware of it.
“When to speak with your co-worker first
Even if confrontation isn’t your strong suit, there are times when it’s better to speak with your co-worker first before reporting the situation to your manager or HR. Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at the digital design firm Blue Fountain Media in New York, points to examples like miscommunication regarding work, arriving late for meetings, conference room overbookings or where to cater lunch for a client.” – careerbuilder.com
Pro- Your Boss May Appreciate It
Most Managers want to know what’s going on when they’re out of earshot. Managers are not typically privy to “water-cooler” talk and appreciate when others make them aware of situations that could cause issues for the company (and them).
This may be especially true if most people in the office know what is happening (except for your manager). It’s likely your manager will be the last to know (not ideal) if you don’t let them know what is going on.
Depending on what you’ve got to share, the boss may appreciate what you have to say. You may be viewed as more trustworthy and caring when you go to the boss to share your concerns.
Pro- May Help the Environment
If there’s one particular co-worker making the environment toxic for everyone else, snitching may actually improve the office environment.
Telling the boss about the person dragging down morale may lead to positive change for everyone.
Con- Your Boss May Think You’re a Tattletale
There’s always a chance that going to the boss may not have the results you want. Your boss may think you’re a tattletale.
If you go to the boss about something that the boss views as insignificant, you may come across as being whiny. The boss may not take too kindly to whiny employees and you may be told to mind your own business.
Con- Your Co-Workers May Dislike You
Snitching can have ramifications with your fellow co-workers as well. If they know you went to the boss, they may distrust you or even gang up on you.
Working with people who dislike you can make for a pretty miserable work environment. It can lead to co-workers avoiding you or worse yet, harassing you if they think you’ve snitched on someone who didn’t deserve it.
Con- Your Actions Could Backfire
There’s always a chance that snitching can backfire. It could even get you fired in the worst case scenarios.
Although you may tell the boss about your co-worker’s behavior with the best of intentions, your boss may not receive the information well.
It can leave the boss in a difficult spot at times, especially if there is no proof of wrongdoing on your co-worker’s behalf.
To Tell or Not to Tell
There isn’t a single answer about whether or not you should snitch on a co-worker. Instead, the decision should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
More serious behavior, such as illegal activity, should most likely be reported to a supervisor. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself in jeopardy.
However, smaller issues, such as a co-worker arriving to work a few minutes late or a co-worker who uses social media during work hours, may require some more thought before snitching.
Also, consider your motivation for telling. If you don’t like a particular co-worker and you hope that co-worker will get fired, you may want to think twice about rather or not it is worth snitching over.
At the end of the day, weigh the pros and cons carefully before drawing any conclusions about whether or not to tell.
The bottom line is you need to take all the factors into consideration before making the decision.