Best Ways You Can Demonstrate a Strong Work Ethic

You Can Build a Strong Work Ethic Even When It Does Not Come Naturally

Business woman demonstrates a strong work ethic with the results she has achieved and is presenting to a group.
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Work ethic is something that every parent hopes their child has, and while some people just appear born with it, most people have to work to gain that focus. And some people, who are extremely hard workers, don’t come to a positive work ethic naturally. They find it difficult to focus and work, but they do it anyway.

What Does a Strong Work Ethic Look Like?

Since you can’t peer into another employee’s soul, you have to judge their work ethic based on their output. So, what does a strong work ethic look like?

A person who displays a strong work ethic takes these actions.

  • Shows up on time, every day. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to work a 9:00 to 5:00 job. But when you are supposed to be at work, you are at work.
  • Does what needs to be done. A person with a strong work ethic will tackle the icky tasks as well as the interesting ones. It may not be “your” job, but if it needs to get done, you will make sure that it gets done.
  • Doesn’t whine. Work is hard. That’s why it is called work. But, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean that you have to complain about it. Just do it.
  • Works through bad situations. A person with a strong work ethic doesn’t call in sick because of a cold, or bad weather. Now, on occasion, a person with a strong work ethic should call in sick and doesn’t. While this may seem noble, it’s not. Sharing your germs or driving under unsafe conditions doesn’t make you a superstar, it makes you dangerous. Don’t encourage this bad side of a strong work ethic.
  • Gets the job done. A good work ethic means nothing if you can’t deliver the expected finished product at the end.

    What Does a Manager See When an Employee Has a Strong Work Ethic?

    Most managers would give a lot to have an employee with a strong work ethic. They reward them properly with raises, praise, and promotions. They give the hard-working employees the best projects because they’ve earned them.

    But, bad managers sometimes see people with a good work ethic as a resource they can exploit. If you give the task to Heidi, she’ll whine and do a lousy job, but if you give the same task to Jane, she’ll work extra long hours and knock it out of the park.

    This can result in overburdening Jane and praising Heidi for doing a lousy job, just because doing anything is an improvement for her.

    Managers need to take care in managing their high work ethic people so that they don’t overburden them. Eventually, every employee burns out and the last thing you want to do is cause your best worker to quit because she can’t get a break.

    Managers should reward their hard workers with promotions, praise, and raises—not more grunt work that no one else wants.

    Managers should use their hard workers as examples for their other employees. This doesn’t mean a constant comparison, as that will breed resentment, but as a standard for what they should expect from others. If Jane can come to work every day, on time, and Heidi doesn’t have any extenuating circumstances that make on-time work impossible, the manager needs to hold Heidi to that standard.

    How Do You Gain a Strong Work Ethic If It Doesn’t Come Naturally to You?

    If the siren song of your iPhone is too much for you to handle, and you find yourself checking messages rather than working, you may think you’re a hopeless case, but you’re not. You just need to fake it until you make it. Here are five suggestions:

    • Turn your phone off and store it in your desk drawer.
    • Make a list of tasks you need to do and stick to them—not anything else until you've completed the list. Place this list where you will see it.
    • Ask your coworkers to say something if you’re off task. You don't need to ask them to  say something like "get back to work." You can use a simple code word: "Task, Heidi."
    • When you finish your tasks and don’t know what to do next, ask your boss or a coworker how you can help.
    • Install a time tracker on your computer that will shut you out of your time wasting websites after a pre-programmed amount of time. For instance, if you waste time on Facebook, you can set a twenty minute limit for the day, and when the time is up, it’s up.

      All of these actions are easy by themselves but they can feel difficult to do as a group. Pick one and start with it and when you’ve mastered it, add the next. You’ll gradually build a strong work ethic. And, isn't that your goal?