By Marissa Maldonado

When you get hired and put time into your job, most of us tend to get comfortable with what we say and do in the presence of our co-workers, but can this hinder your career in the long run? Sometimes co-workers become our personal friends which has a lot of benefits when we need help delegating work in the office or when we need to confide in someone. But, I think that most of the time we get too comfortable with our co-workers to the point that we may put them and ourselves in uncomfortable situations. For instance, you see that a co-worker is breaking company rules, so what do you do? Do you report them? Do you stay quiet about what you saw and turn the other cheek? How many of you have been in this type of situation where you know your co-worker, a.k.a “your friend,” is breaking rules and feel as if your hands are tied on how to handle the situation? It’s a fine line between co-worker and friend. To be honest, it all boils down to loyalty and your sense of work ethics.

I think that people need to realize that you have co-workers who are friends at work and friends who are friends 24/7 outside of work. There is nothing wrong with being friendly and building relationships with your co-workers, but my advice to you is, to not let the relationships at work hinder you from doing your job.

When you work at any job, you have an ethical responsibility to report co-workers who are breaking policies. I am not saying to walk around all day with a pencil and paper and write down every little action of your co-workers. You should not feel guilty about reporting them and these co-workers should not put you in a position where you would have to lie and cover for them either. Do you put your loyalty in your co-workers or in the company?

For those of you who tend to put your loyalties in your co-workers, even when they do wrong, I would advise you to really think about why you are so loyal to those individuals. The bottom line is that your company or business issues your paycheck and your co-workers do not. If you know for certain that your co-worker is breaking rules and you choose not to say anything about it, then, you are just as guilty.
Another food for thought is that you need to think of how your co-workers benefit from being friends with you at work and vice-versa. I am not saying that being loyal to your co-workers is wrong, but the point that I am trying to make is to always be cautious and evaluate the relationships you have with your co-workers. Do not jeopardize your career due to covering for a co-worker when they do something wrong.

Now for those of you who tend to put your loyalties in the company and its policies, there is nothing wrong with that either. I would say that every employee should have some sense of loyalty to their company, but on the other side of the coin, be cautious on how you treat your co-workers as well. Do not be so unloyal and distant from your co-workers to the point where no one will have your back or find yourself in a situation where you are working with countless enemies.

When it comes to ethics in the workplace, it is all based on judgment. I would love to hear what you have to say about ethics and friendships in the workplace, so please comment and remember that there are no wrong or right comments. △