Q: “I have a co-worker who is running a Web-based business on company time. ‘Linn’ spends hours monitoring her website, taking orders, sending invoices and arranging for shipments. At the end of the day, she prints out her documents and takes them home.
“Linn gives more time to her business than to her job, but our boss appears to be completely unaware of these activities. He occasionally asks other employees to help Linn out because she’s so busy. However, she’s just busy making money for herself.
“Linn’s behavior is just plain wrong, and she should not be allowed to get away with it. Is there anything I can do?” Outraged
A: Bluntly put, Linn is a thief. By accepting a paycheck, then using work time for her own personal gain, she is effectively stealing from the company. Advisingof this transgression is no different than reporting someone who pockets money from a cash register.
If you work in a large business, you can ask the human resources manager or corporate attorney to investigate while keeping your name confidential. However, if you’re in a small company, going directly to management may be your only option. In that case, have a concerned colleague accompany you to verify your story.
When you describe the situation, remain calm and focus on the facts. For example: “I thought you should know that Linn has been running a personal business on company time. She spends several hours a day selling products through her website. Other employees are becoming resentful because she’s falling behind in her work. We would appreciate your investigating this.”
Once you inform the powers-that-be, you will have done all that you can do. If your management is at all competent, Linn will soon be operating her business at home.
Have an issue with a co-worker? Here's how to approach it: The Best Way to Complain about Co-workers.