What's Your Problem?

My colleagues are fiddling their expenses, should I say something?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Mar 2011

I have worked in admin at an insurance company in the City for the past three or four months.  It started as a temp job, but they've asked me to go permanent. The problem is, while I like the job, I don't like my colleagues very much. They take real liberties - fiddling their expenses and taking long (and frequent) breaks. They don't ask me to cover for them, but just by knowing what's going on, I feel as if I'm condoning their behaviour. What do I do? Try and get a new job somewhere else, or report them to the powers that be?

A: It's extremely unlikely that behaviour of this kind could be so institutionally embedded and yet not be known to managers. Not only has a particularly lax culture been allowed to infect the whole place but it seems to be implicitly condoned by management. So I'd be fairly certain that any appeal on your part to the powers that be would get you absolutely nowhere. You'd be seen as an inconvenient upstart, grassing on colleagues and self-righteous with it.

If you decide to stay, you'll be faced with an uncomfortable choice. Unable to disguise your growing disapproval of your colleagues' behaviour, you'll become more and more isolated and unpopular. Or, if only as a form of self-protection, you'll find yourself falling in with their grubby ways. It can happen all too easily; that's exactly the way these cultures spread.

It may sound defeatist, but if I were you I'd make a firm internal decision right now. Don't walk out with no new job to go to - but spend all your spare time and energy finding one. You'll feel better immediately.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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