Why Developing a Good Work Ethic is Essential to Career Success
A good work ethic is more than logging long hours on the job. It involves an attitude and actions that reflect integrity.
If you won $10 million in the lottery, would you continue to work or would you quit?
You might be surprised to learn that according to a recent Gallup survey, two-thirds of American workers say they would continue working even if they won $10 million in the lottery.
- 44 percent would keep their current job
- 23 percent would seek new employment
- 31 percent would quit working
In fact, the number of people who said they would continue working is higher than it was the last three times Gallup asked this question between 1997 and 2005.
Granted, given inflation the perceived value of $10 million isn’t what it used to be. But Gallup’s Frank Newport says that one reason the majority of American workers say they would stay on the job could be because workers today have a renewed appreciation for the value of having a job.
Which could speak to a renewed emphasis on a strong work ethic.
Strong work ethic: a requirement in today’s job market
According to Saint Leo Assistant Director of Career Planning Tiffany Nelson, developing a good work ethic is more important to career success than ever before.
“The job market is so competitive now that if you don’t have a good work ethic, employers don’t think twice about looking for someone who meets the bill.”
Nelson winces when she recalls a painful lesson she learned during college about being on time for work, but she is grateful for the opportunity the experience gave her to learn and grow.
“In the ‘real world’ outside of college, however, you don’t get second chance,” she said. “One mistake could cost you your job.”
Even if repercussions are not immediate, people notice. People know who has a strong work ethic and who doesn’t. "Your professional reputation precedes you. If your reputation is positive, people want to have you around, and that can lead to more opportunities and career advancement.”
So what can you do to help strengthen your work ethic?
Here are some ideas that you can use whether you are currently in the work world or preparing to enter the job market.
The foundation of a good work ethic is one of Saint Leo University’s core values: integrity. Saint Leo defines integrity as being “honest, just, and consistent in word and deed.” To develop integrity, you should:
- Act the same when people are not watching you, as when they are.
- Perform consistently at the same level of quality. Be conscientious.
- Be honest in all things. A philosopher said that honesty is not a policy; it is a state of mind.
- Take responsibility for your actions, which includes being punctual.
Develop positive communication skills
Knowing how to communicate in a way that is positive and constructive – and shows respect for the feelings of others – is an invaluable skill. To help develop positive communication skills, you can:
- Avoid negative talk and gossip.
- Provide feedback that improves situations and builds people up.
- Be an active listener and keep an open mind.
- Be considerate of others and respectful of their roles in the organization.
Develop a can-do attitude
Nelson says that a strong work ethic involves both actions and attitude: what you do and how you do it. To cultivate a can-do attitude:
- Take initiative. Procrastination can lead to missed opportunities.
- Be willing to assist in efforts outside your realm of responsibility.
- Cultivate flexibility.
- Take calculated risks – share new ideas.
- Be helpful and enthusiastic.
Accomplishing all things as if they were great and noble
One way to develop a good work ethic is to identify someone you believe personifies a good work ethic, observe their behavior, and then emulate it.
You could also look to Helen Keller.
She probably was not referring to how to develop a strong work ethic when she said it, but the social activist, public speaker, and author sums it up succinctly:
“I long to accomplish some great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
Do you have any other suggestions on how to develop a good work ethic?
Image credit: andrewr