Sam Ewing said, ‘Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, some don’t turn up at all’. I recently did a radio interview about ‘work ethic’, and I thought of Sam Ewing’s quote.

The kind of work ethic you have in a job reflects directly on your character, and whether or not you can be trusted and relied on.

By way of a definition, work ethic is a set of moral principles an employee uses in their job. Work ethic is also determined based on the premise that hard work is worthy of reward. Please note that fact you arrive for work every day does not mean you have a good work ethic!

A number of things can determine your work ethic. As an employee, these are traits that you should recognise in yourself or strive towards. As an employer, this is how you will know if your employees have a good work ethic and worthy of recognition and progression.

  1. Integrity
    Integrity encompasses all aspects of your job. If you have integrity you create a space where you can foster trusting relationships with clients, co-workers and supervisors:
    Co-workers will value your ability to give honest feedback.
    Clients will trust your advice.
    Supervisors will rely on your high moral standards, trusting you to not to steal from the company or create problems, etc.
  2. Sense of Responsibility
    Responsibility affects how you work and the amount of work you do. When you feel personally responsible for your job performance, you will get to work and meetings on time, you will put your best effort into your projects, and you will complete projects to the best of your ability.
  3. Emphasis on Quality
    Some employees do only the bare minimum, just enough to keep their job intact. This reflects a poor work ethic. If you have a strong work ethic, you will invariably care about the quality of your work: you’ll produce great work, over and above what is needed. Your commitment to quality also improves the company’s overall quality, and you will more than likely be rewarded for this.
  4. Discipline
    We can all agree that it takes a certain level of commitment to finish your tasks every day. Good discipline in your job is expressed by staying focused on your goals and being continually determined to complete your assignments. Practicing discipline shows a high level of dedication to the company, and increases their trust in you.
  5. Sense of Teamwork
    Most employees have to work together to meet a company’s objectives. Having a sense of teamwork is paramount to work ethic as it helps your team meet its goals and deliver quality work.

On the flip side, as an employer, the above characteristics explicitly reveal the kind of employees in your business. Exposing questions to ask yourself would be: Are they reliable? Are they dedicated to their job, and to the business as a whole? Are they productive? Do they co-operate with your business values? Are they team players? Do they practice self-discipline and have a strong character?

Work ethic tells future employees what they can expect from you, and it shows current employers how much they can trust and rely on you.

What is the key work ethic characteristic you look for in team members or employees? Let us know in the comments below!