Having a good work ethic is likely something you strive for. It’s also what you look for while hiring. But what exactly does a strong work ethic entail? Ideally, everyone should do their job well, so it’s a fair question to ask.
“Work ethic is more than showing up on time. Showing up on time is part of the job,” says Kristin Heller of HR Creative Consulting. According to her, most of the principles and habits that make up a good work ethic are timeless, and work ethic is a spectrum. “Work ethic is like performance – you will have employees on every level of the work ethic scale.”
But the pandemic has also affected how we perceive that term. “Before the pandemic, my clients were much more focused on visibility and climbing the rungs of the ladder to get promoted,” says Lauren LeMunyan, founder of The Spitfire Coach, a leadership development organization. “Now I see my clients looking to make the most impact and preserve their time outside of their roles and working time so that they can bring their best selves into the workday.”
Wondering what that looks like in practice? Here are seven things that people who have a good work ethic do regularly, according to Heller and LeMunyan.
1. They show that you can count on them
Reliability is a pillar of a good work ethic. “A good work ethic in 2022 is about doing what you say you will do, not in a people-pleasing way, but with a discernment that can evaluate priorities, impact, resources, and capacity,” says LeMunyan.
Heller says that weak work ethic employees tend to be “repeat offenders of unplanned time away from work,” which does the opposite of demonstrating that you’re reliable. On the other hand, people with a strong work ethic let others know in advance when they are coming in late, leaving early or out of the office.
2. They take initiative
They also take initiative. “Those employees see what needs to be done and do it. Once an employee fully understands their role, they do not need to be told every little move but rather take initiative to move forward and oftentimes help lead others in moving forward as well,” adds Heller.
3. They make their time count
Additionally, professionals who have a good work ethic understand the value of time, and they make their time count.
“My clients ask themselves, ‘What would be possible with the time I have available today and who do I need to communicate with to bring more ease into my day?’” says LeMunyan. She adds that those professionals know when to say no or “not right now” to things that are not important and urgent, and tend to focus on tasks where they can be in their zone of genius.
4. They seek to grow and learn
A desire to grow is a key indicator that someone values doing a good job too. Heller says that people who want to constantly learn and grow more, whether it be in their role or in their eagerness to take on new challenges, tend to have a great work ethic. “They want to grow and learn and it is up to leaders to allow it to happen.”
5. They love to make an impact
According to her, those are the same people who tend to jump on the opportunity to support others and make an impact because they want to bring value to their team: “They share their knowledge with others by teaching and training willingly because they want others and the business to be better.”
6. They are intentional about meetings
Being intentional about meetings is a more underrated habit of professionals who shine on the work ethic front, but it’s a particularly relevant one in the age of back-to-back Zoom calls and meeting-heavy work cultures.
For example, LeMunyan says that having a good work ethic can look like “adding time buffers in between meetings for at least 10 minutes to allow for bio breaks, action item planning, and follow-up items.” Or ending meetings earlier than scheduled: “These professionals value time and freely give it back to people so that they can get ahead of the day.”
7. They have a positive mindset
Finally, people with an amazing work ethic know that every organization has challenges. They don’t wear rose-colored glasses and are not afraid to be honest about what is not working, but they do focus on bringing solutions rather than complaining.
They are “employees that bring issues and questions forward but do not complain about every little imperfection in business,” explains Heller. “They understand that to get better, leaders must be aware, but they also understand that no business is perfect.”
Most of all, they maintain positive energy and attitude while embracing all the habits above.