How To Set Good Work Ethic Among Your Employees?

Regardless of the business size or area, an ethical code is a defined set of principles that guides a company and affects its reputation and productivity. Among employees, ethical behavior ensures that staff adhere to the policies and rules of the organization and complete their work with integrity and honesty. 

Employers want to onboard people with strong work ethics.

During a job interview, interviewers may ask you to describe your work ethic. With this question, they seek to understand your fit and what you will be like as an employee - are you a clock-watcher, doing only the bare minimum? Or will you go the extra mile to reach the goals? Do you work well with others or focus mainly on completing your tasks?

Employees with a strong work ethic are determined to get the job done, no matter what. They often require less oversight of daily activities. Managers can rely upon them to complete more challenging tasks. 

Before we look at what you should focus on when improving your work ethic, let’s define ethics, see what work ethic means, and learn more about work ethics skills.


  1. Work ethic definition
  2. Strong vs. Poor ethic skills
  3. Top ways to create strong ethics in the workplace
  4. Work ethic FAQ

1. Work ethic definition

Work ethics is a set of moral principles or values that an employee abides by and uses in their job performance.
Work ethic is the ability to have an attitude to perform your job duties with high moral standards and maintain proper workplace values. It is a soft skill with an inherent attitude an individual has, which allows them to perform their duties with positive moral values that include teamwork, responsibility, integrity, and discipline.

Those with a strong work ethic place a high value on their professional success. They exhibit moral principles that make them outstanding employees in any position.

2. Strong vs. Poor ethic skills

Now that we know the definitions of ethics and work ethics, let us review some common examples of strong and poor work ethics.

Strong work ethics skills

To develop

Poor work ethic skills

To avoid


Discipline is a vital component of a strong work ethic and a highly valued workplace skill. Discipline refers to your ability to observe rules, regulations, and procedures and stay committed to the code of ethics in the workplace. Discipline impacts your dedication and determination to uphold your part in a project or task.


People with poor work ethics are not driven to complete tasks. As a result, they wait until the last minute to complete work and often produce poor-quality work.


Employees with a good work ethic exhibit professionalism in all their workplace affairs. Professionalism is a powerful quality that allows you to fulfill your role to the best of your ability. It helps you to impress and inspire others. And it gives you a deep sense of satisfaction and self-worth.


Unprofessional behavior is a strong indicator of a lack of work ethic and can set a bad precedent in the workplace, cause conflicts, and affect performance.


Another crucial work ethic is adaptability. Being able to change is a vital quality for employees and makes workplace adjustments smooth and successful. Rather than complaining about a particular change, employees with a good work ethic quickly adapt and learn how to work with the change instead of letting it hold them back.


Negativity affects others in the workplace and is a common trait of people with a lousy work ethic because they don’t value professionalism.


Employees with a strong work ethic understand that they are part of an organization rather than simply someone who clocks in and out of an office daily. Being a good team player and participating in team activities is essential to thriving at work and can ultimately improve satisfaction and boost work productivity.


Employees with poor work ethics may demonstrate inefficiency. While they may complete their tasks, they do it in a manner that ultimately takes more time and costs the company more money.


A strong work ethic means you are committed to seeing a project through, no matter how difficult it gets. Building determination and persistence will allow you to achieve goals, work for long periods, and stay focused on the task without becoming frustrated or discouraged.


When you have an irresponsible employee, you can see a lack of work ethic in how seriously they take their duties in the workplace. They don’t place high importance on their commitments and responsibilities.


Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone will take responsibility for them. A person with a good work ethic displays accountability and is willing to be held accountable for their role. They accept blame when it is necessary and work proactively to solve issues.


Passiveness can be a general personality characteristic, but it can also apply to attitudes in the workplace. This attitude means that individuals show apathy regarding what happens with their job.


People with a strong work ethic are self-motivated and require little supervision to complete their tasks successfully and on time. As mentioned in the introduction, onboarding new hires with strong work ethics is easy. Once self-motivated employees understand the job, they can perform it without constant encouragement or help from others.


People with poor work ethics are not driven to work or complete projects as part of their job.


People who have solid work ethics demonstrate integrity in everything they do. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching and not cutting corners to finish a task quickly or come out on top. People with integrity easily gain the trust of others and are more likely to be looked at favorably by employers.


Toxicity is a high indication of poor work ethic. A toxic work environment is where employees find it hard to work or progress in their careers due to the undesirable atmosphere created by coworkers, supervisors, or the company culture itself.

3. Top ways to create strong ethics in the workplace

Work ethics in the workplace is even more significant as it directly impacts the quality or output of the job. 

When a person shows respect towards work and the workplace, they naturally become more productive. They use the company resources, value time, have better performance levels, and drive the company towards success.

Here are the ten ways to instill strong work ethics among employees.

1. Keep your goals clear

Having a goal in life is a must. Employees should be self-motivated to achieve the target and be fully aware of the work they are performing. The team leader and manager must explain the work and goal before starting a new task. Your employee has talent, but still, they need guidance and direction in their work. Whether the company is at the top or bottom level, they follow an ethical work culture.

Find 10 examples employee performance goals and objectives, and learn how you use such framework to boost accountability in your organization.

2. Be an example

If you want to instill good work ethics among your team, you must lead them from the front. A leader should be a light in the dark. If you want results from your team, then be ethical towards your work and commitment. You can’t expect that your team will work ethically unless you, as a leader, are not an ethical benchmark to them. When you motivate your teammates, you should always look in the mirror and see whether you have set a good example or not.

3. Be professional

A professional person exhibits a quality of craft and service. Professionalism starts with trust, loyalty, discipline, and a hunger for excellence. Employees with this work ethic aim to bring excellence, no matter their position in the organization.

Leaders and managers always respect them for their conduct and positive attitude towards work. Such an attitude draws the team members toward their vision. Managers, therefore, can promote professionalism and bring goodwill to an organization.

4. Create an engaging work environment

Psychology proves that your physical environment links directly to your employees' work-life balance and productivity. The workplace environment should be engaging and friendly. It is your responsibility that employees feel safe, both physically and mentally. If you don’t prioritize your working environment, your employees are less accountable for their work. 

Find the seven steps to create a positive work environment.

5. Follow discipline

Discipline is one of the core aspects of work ethics. Management must be very particular about it. When willpower becomes part of the company culture, it will resonate with all your workforce employees.

Discipline helps teammates to work efficiently towards their mission and is also helpful in achieving the desired goals.

6. Be familiar with the needs of employees

You must know the needs of your employees if you want to boost your workforce motivation. Employees show a high level of engagement towards work when their needs are satisfied. Your workforce needs are constantly changing. Some employees prefer working from home or remotely, while others seek training and development. Understanding the needs of employees helps stimulate performance and overall motivation.

7. Transform mistakes in lessons learned

No one is immune to making mistakes – we are human, after all! A mistake is part of the journey. But if we simply carry on as before, we are in danger of repeating the same errors.

When we don't learn from our mistakes, we inflict stress on ourselves and others, and we risk losing people's confidence and trust in us. The people with the best work ethics are capable of picking themselves up after mistakes.

8. Foster a culture of honest feedback

Feedback is an essential part of workplace communication. Constant feedback plays a vital role in nurturing an environment with good work ethics. Honest and constructive feedback is crucial for any business to build a culture for continuous improvement.

Feedback facilitates open discussions, transparent company culture, suggestions, and rigorous exchange of ideas and information. Update the norms of the organization with the latest and best trends from different parts of the world.

9. Reward ethic employees

Human beings have an intrinsic need to thrive for appreciation. Rewarding and recognizing is a good practice to ensure that the momentum of appreciation is maintained. It acts as a motivator in "keeping up the good work.” Employees setting good examples for others through their sound work ethics are just as deserving of recognition as your best performer. It is your responsibility to fuel their spirits and make them feel happy, valued and appreciated.

You can find some examples of thank you messages for your employees. 

10. Overcome the obstacles

Finally, to instill strong work ethics among your employees, you must eliminate the hurdles in their way. You should know which employee is disengaged and unmotivated in their work because the chances are they will not have strong work ethics in their workplace. Negativity in the workplace, strict rules, office politics, and inadequate benefits can decrease workplace morale. 

4. Work ethic FAQ

What is the meaning of work ethic?

The term "work ethic" refers to a group of moral principles that govern how people should behave at work.

What means a strong work ethic?

A mindset that drives people to succeed at work is referred to as having a strong work ethic.

What Are Work Ethic Skills?

A person who has a strong work ethic will demonstrate their passion for their profession through their attitude and behavior. 

Among the most important work ethics skills, we can share the following:

  • Commitment and determination
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Accountability and responsibility
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Attendance 
  • Respect.

Why do employers prefer employees with good work ethics?

Here are 10 reasons why employers prefer employees with good work ethics:

  1. Increased productivity and efficiency
  2. Improved customer service
  3. Greater job satisfaction
  4. Better teamwork and collaboration
  5. Increased loyalty and commitment
  6. Reduced turnover and absenteeism
  7. Higher morale among colleagues
  8. Reduced costs due to higher quality standards
  9. Enhanced company reputation and brand image
  10. Improved safety and security in the workplace.

Why are work ethics paramount?

Workplace ethics are important because they keep all members of an organization accountable for their actions. Maintaining an ethical code creates a sense of security through boundaries for employees. It also enables management to make decisions that benefit the company while meeting consumer and employee needs.

What are some examples of work ethics?

Great examples of good work ethics include: 

  • demonstrating a strong commitment to your job, 
  • being reliable and dependable, 
  • using your time wisely, 
  • having a positive attitude, and 
  • always striving for excellence.

These examples are all vital qualities for success in the workplace. They help foster a productive, collaborative environment and demonstrate to employers that you take your job seriously and are serious about working to your fullest potential. They might also be linked with the core values of the organization and aligned with the company vision and mission.


Workplace ethics matter outside the workplace, too. In the current online world, every company is under close public scrutiny. Maintaining ethical standards helps companies maintain strong relationships with consumers by setting precedents in their industries that command respect.


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