How to Develop a Robust Work Ethic

Think about the people you most admire in the workplace or at college. They could be a colleague, a boss, or instructor.

Chances are that they are people who have values. They stand for something—and have a strong work ethic.

Bringing integrity, hard work, and self-discipline to your role is an attribute that is in very high demand in today’s job market. Employers value employees who are understanding as well as willing to work hard, to care about their job, and to deliver their projects, all while maintaining a positive attitude.

Building a strong work ethic, wherever you are in your career, is a key step towards ensuring success and deriving more pleasure as well as satisfaction from your work.

Ethics are based on values. Values such as:

  • Reliability
  • Responsibility
  • Persistence
  • Respect for others
  • Focus
  • Time management
  • Quality

These values are the things that tend to differentiate those who just seem to get things done – and done well.

Building your own strong work ethic means developing these values – and converting them into habits.

Six Habits for You to Create

Habit of Staying Power

For a vast majority in the workforce, your working life is a marathon and not a sprint. There is nothing to be gained in burning yourself out. Building persistence or staying power so that you can continue to deliver and perform consistently is just like training for a marathon. You need to find a delicate balance.

Try pushing your limits gradually. Over time you will build up your strength and resilience. In order to do this, be sure to always take breaks when you need them. Do not be a slave to the clock. If you can push it that extra 10 minutes, 20 minutes – give that little bit extra – start to make it a habit. Aim to improve your performance and train yourself to work a little bit longer, harder, but at the same time always smarter.

Habit of Reliability

It is amazing how quickly a reputation can be earned at work – for better or for worse. Get into the very good habit of sticking to your word. If you say you will deliver — you better deliver. If you say you are going to be there — be there. If you say you can do something, do it. Though be certain to let others know upfront if there is any (legitimate) reason why you cannot deliver, be there, or do something.

At work, no matter how brilliant your technical or non-technical skills, if you do not come across as reliable, you are creating obstacles to success that will hamper your professional reputation and harm your possibilities.

Habit of Focus

Whatever your workplace, it can be very easy to be distracted from the task in hand. Keeping your focus and getting things done in a timely and efficient manner are part of great work ethic.

Be disciplined with yourself. Set yourself a time limit to accomplish something and stick to it. Give yourself a bit of wiggle room to settle in to your task and hit your stride and then go for it, blocking out potential distractions – email, social media, colleagues – if necessary.

Habit of Being Present

Many of us have a tendency to put things off – especially the challenging or more difficult chores we face. Get into the habit of doing things without delay. Look at your list of things to do and get straight into them without procrastination. You will have time for rest and relaxation once you have got everything you need to do done. And you will appreciate your downtime so much more. Being present is vital to your reputation and people believing in you delivering upon your promises.

Habit of Respect for Others

Always have respect for the opinions and perspectives, the skills, and the knowledge of other people. Being professional goes beyond persistence, time-keeping, and effectiveness. It is also about being positive and cordial, refraining from gossip, all while developing a reputation for integrity, honesty, consistency, and collaboration.

Habit of Quality

You are only as good as the work that you deliver. Take pride in the quality of what you do. Look at all the success targets of a task – your objectives, your deliverables, your deadlines – and plan meticulously to exceed them or at minimum, meeting them. Bring in other people’s skills and support if you need to, give yourself space and time where necessary. Sometimes that requires time to step back before being able to come back with fresh eyes. Always factor in time to review your work thoroughly before you submit a final product.

These six habits will reinforce your work ethic and help you receive a respectable reputation in the workforce. Think of it as a life-long process of growing your work ethic; as there will always be ways to improve.