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8 November 2014

The importance of strong work ethics

It is a fact, people with a strong work ethic achieve so much more than those who just drift through life. As an international businessman, I notice extreme differences between the work ethics of employees around the world. Europe, in particular, is suffering from a work ethic crisis potentially driven by regulation. The effect is that many employees lack the drive to make a real difference to them and the organisations they work for.

It starts with first impressions – dress like you mean business. A crisp white shirt, clean tie (if you are a man), dark suit and polished shoes… if you look like a burst sofa, no employer is going to take you seriously and believe you have a strong work ethic.

Always arrive on time for an interview, a meeting or to start the working day at the office. Punctuality is the hallmark of a strong work ethic. If you are late you are saying to people either that you are not really interested or that you believe you are more important that those attending the meeting.

A positive attitude to hard work comes across at an interview and is a key ingredient linked to pay rises and promotions once you have secured the role.

In defining whether or not your work ethic is at the level it should be, ask yourself the following questions:

Success is not for clock watchers it is for people who are prepared to do whatever it takes to do the very best job. There are no prizes for being the first in in the morning and last to leave if you are not using the time productively; if you are, then your productivity will far exceed lazy colleagues’.

Always define at the outset of any project what success looks like. By ensuring that you have set your goals, you have a far greater chance of achieving them. People and organisations without goals will never achieve anything remarkable because without a clear roadmap, they will ramble and roam aimlessly.

Invest in training around work ethics for employees – it is truly worthwhile and the return on investment is a very powerful metric. Help people understand the values and culture the company has and the work ethics that these are guided by.

Ensure that all employees understand that there is no point starting a task unless it is has not only been completed but to the very best of their ability. Documents should be proof read, and colleagues consulted for their input to ensure that the result is as comprehensive as possible.

A strong work ethic also promotes respect and appropriate behavior among colleagues; this is even further enhanced by active teamwork. People with a strong work ethic are therefore less likely to take ‘duvet days’ causing their colleagues to have to cover their work; they are less likely to take long lunch hours, waste company resources through unnecessary wastage and less likely to behave in a manner that reflects badly on the organization such as drinking too much at a business associate’s drinks party.

In defining whether or not your work ethic is at the level it should be, ask yourself the following questions:

- Are you looking for a job or a career?
– How important is your job – where does it rank in your list of priorities?
– How do your interests outside work help, enhance and define your work ethic?
– How do you approach the tasks you are given to do or need to complete to achieve your goals?
– How do you feel about working outside your standard hours to get a job completed?
– How committed are you to developing your skills – are you interested in studying outside office hours, exploring the internet for top tips etc?
– What is more important to you, your title or your salary?

By establishing clear guidance on what work ethics are expected in an organization, a business will reduce wastage and theft. Hard work and commitment will always shine through. Those who have the strongest work ethics and are focused on being the very best at what they do will reach the highest levels.

The starting point is for the senior management team of any organisation to lead from the front.