Work ethic

Dedication, commitment, effort, loyalty – all these qualities comprise good work ethic. It’s about being committed to a role, taking pleasure from the successes, being propelled and inspired by challenge and change, and being a great advocate for an organisation, internally and externally.

If you can exhibit you have a good work ethic, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career. There are however, a few occasions on which it can be detrimental to you, your colleagues and your progress. Read our advice to better understand work ethic, and how to improve yours.

Why is good work ethic important? 

Good work ethic is a reflection on your work style and your consistent ability to perform. It can open you up to myriad opportunities and will play a key role in the successes you experience throughout your career. Here are four reasons why you should develop your work ethic now:

  • You’ll help organisations achieve their goals
    People with good work ethic centre their work around the goals and positive outcomes that need to be achieved by organisations. They pursue these fiercely and don’t let challenge, change or disruption get in the way. They are seen as loyal, committed employees that are capable of exceeding expectation. 
  • You’ll be seen as professional and reliable
    Having good work ethic comprises many qualities. These include, but are not limited to, arriving on time to all meetings, being totally prepared for presentations, exhibiting a high degree of respect to colleagues, clients and stakeholders, being able to closely follow instructions and strategy and always striving for the best outcomes. These qualities are synonymous with being an effective and reliable professional, something all employees should aspire to be. 
  • You’ll be satisfied with your work
    A lack of satisfaction in your work may be derived from feelings of boredom, or a sense that your skills aren’t being used as best they could. People with good work ethic tend to find greater satisfaction in their roles because they apply themselves widely and persistently to different projects and teams, keeping their work diverse and interesting. The presence of this important soft skill also means that when you do start to feel less satisfied you’ll be quick to seek out ways to remedy this. It might include talking with your manager about working on more challenge projects, inviting some variation of tasks into your work, or pursuing on-the-job training. 
  • You’ll constantly progress
    Those who are visibly determined, work hard consistently and enjoy challenges will always be seen as ideal candidates and top talent. Good work ethic is a skill that transcends all role types and is highly regarded even if you’re at the start of your career or breaking into a new industry. Make sure examples of your exceptional work ethic are visible throughout your resume and cover letter, and that you can talk confidently about it in any job interview you attend.

How to develop good work ethic

Work ethic is a soft skill that is developed over time, so if you feel like you haven’t got it just yet, rest assured – there’s still time. If you want to know how to improve work ethic, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some ways to develop your skills and as a result, get more satisfaction from your job: 

  • Find a job you love
    This is not to say that any job is perfect, or doesn’t come with its busy or frustrating periods, but finding a job you enjoy for the most part will help you develop good work ethic. Think about it – if you believe in your organisation’s purpose, if you respect your colleagues, and if you’re challenged, even inspired, by your work, then you’re likely to take pride in everything you do, striving for the best and being loyal to the organisation. If, on the other hand, you resent going to work, getting to any level of dedication will seem almost impossible. Do your best to find a role that reflects your values and interests, and utilises your skills in the best way to improve your work ethic.
  • Don’t shy away from hard work
    Those that persist in the face of challenge and change will quickly develop a reputation for having good work ethic. Put your hand up to help with projects, offer colleagues assistance where you can and join any work groups that exist to solve higher-level organisational challenges. 
  • Always look for ways to improve yourself
    Be on a perpetual quest for self-betterment and advancement, seeking out opportunities to undertake workplace learning, further your network or refine your existing skills. This exhibits ambition and drive, and people with good work ethic tend to have both these qualities in spades. Improving yourself also means learning from the work you do, taking the time to conduct reviews and optimise process and practice for the future.
  • Own your mistakes
    There’s absolutely no shame in making mistakes – they are inevitable, they happen to everyone, and they are often the source of the most valuable learnings in your career. However, there is a problem if you don’t own up to your mistakes. If you let others take the blame for your errors, or simply say nothing, chances are the problem – whether it’s a missed number in an accounting document or an unfortunate typo in a social media post – will become much greater than it ever needed to be. Owning your mistakes is also an indicator of integrity, and an important quality for all roles that is highly-sought by employers.

Good work ethic is an extremely positive soft skill that employees across all industries and levels of seniority should work to continually develop. Good work ethic doesn’t mean exhausting yourself or blindly doing other people’s work, rather, it means applying yourself and your skills in the most effective and rewarding way possible. Expect to enjoy your work more and increase your marketability as you develop better work ethic throughout your career.