Should I report my colleague’s inappropriate behaviour?

Friday September 24 2021

Caroline Mboijana. PHOTO/FILE

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline,  
I have noticed a coworker misuse company resources. This colleague who has a number of side gigs often brings this work and gives it to the unsuspecting subordinates to do it for him. Many times I have seen him use office supplies including reams of paper, envelopes and files to do his own work. Sometimes he uses it all, leaving nothing for us. When I confronted him about it he told me to mind my business. I feel like I should let the bosses know what is going on but I fear looking petty. What should I do?  Hassan.   

Hello Hassan,
Companies have multiple resources ranging from finances, plant and machinery, motor vehicles, IT equipment, intellectual property, office supplies, human resources, distribution lists and company information.
These resources are meant for the sole purpose of the operations of the company towards the effective attainment of it’s goals. 

Resources should in principle be utilised for official use except for some instances used for personal purposes that are specifically authorised. 

All company stakeholders are expected to respect all the company assets as guides by the company policies for resources’ effective usage. 

Amidst all set guidelines, one still finds employees who misuse the company resources for varied reasons. 

The causes of misuse may include: 
Personal causes – desire to satisfy personal needs, lack of sufficient information about the usage of resources and intentional ill-will for the company.


Institutional causes – poor induction of employees regarding resources usage, inappropriate security / asset usage measures and lack of appropriate policies and guidelines governing the usage of resources.

Ethical dilemma and choices. This is where the senior employees are directly associated with the company resources’ misuse and becomes confusing to the rest of the employees as to what measures need to be taken to punish such instances.

Societal causes. These are differences in the employees leading to their desire to get rich quick. 

In your scenario, there is clear indication of intentional abuse of resources to satisfy personal needs and potential ill-will for the company.  

This includes abuse of human resources – the “unsuspecting surbodinates” and misuse of office supplies. 

It’s critical that each of the employee in the company irrespective of the position held has a responsibility to ensure the company resources are safeguarded from misuse.  

All resources of the company need to be directed for effective usage to attain the company’s goal and have to be utilised during official working hours or rather with specific approval. 

Your feeling is to the right direction and not petty at all as it’s your key responsibility to safeguard the company resources.  

Let your boss or the responsible persons know about what is happening regardless of him telling you to mind your business. 
This is certainly your business for as long as you are still an employee of this company.

Caroline Mboijana, MD, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]