What is Work Ethic?

“Your level of success is only predetermined by your level of effort.”

Simply defined, work ethic is working your hardest, doing your best, and persevering no matter the task. Your work ethic isn’t based on compensation or recognition, but on the fact that it is the right thing to do. 

Responsibility is another big part of work ethic. When given a task, it’s important to follow through and finish it to the best of your ability. This goes for everything from a project at work to a child taking care of a family pet. Teaching the importance of responsibility is a huge first step in forming a good work ethic.

Work ethic has everything to do with your own convictions. The importance a person places on the moral benefit of doing a job well strongly influences work ethic. Understanding that doing your best shouldn’t be based on the reward for completing a task but on a sense of accomplishment will go a long way toward maintaining a good work ethic.

Work Ethic in the Workplace

Your feelings about your job often show through your work ethic. People who have a strong work ethic will continue to work hard and do their best, despite negative feelings about their job. 

How hard a person works should not be based purely on emotions and how they feel about their boss or the job they have been hired to do. Instead, they will continue to work hard because they have a responsibility to their tasks, despite their environment.

While this may sound like you should stay in a job that is toxic because you have committed yourself to it, this is not at all the case. It simply means that you maintain your integrity by continuing to accomplish your job to the best of your ability, even if you are looking for a job elsewhere. 

Hard workers are often identified by their perseverance. Not only do they work hard, but they don’t give up when things get tough. People aren’t measured by how many times they fail, but by what they manage to accomplish. Is Thomas Edison known for the approximately 10,000 times he failed to make a working lightbulb? No, he is remembered for inventing the lightbulb.

Work Ethic at Home

Often, work ethic is modeled as much as it is taught. Forming good habits yourself will help your family to directly see the results of a good work ethic. You won’t always feel motivated, so it is essential to be disciplined.

Implement Rules 

This can be as simple as intentionally getting away from devices and technology in order to spend more time interacting with your family. Try implementing a “no screens at the table” rule to encourage conversation. Don’t be afraid of bantering and extra noise in your home as it is a sign of relationships being built and camaraderie developing. Having rules (whatever may work well for your family) that need to be followed and setting the example of following them even when they are hard will show your kids the value of perseverance. For example, you might be tempted to keep your phone at the table one night when things are crazy at work. If your kids see you avoiding the temptation, they will be more likely to follow suit.

Be Consistent 

Model a good work ethic by being consistent with what matters to you in your home. If a clean kitchen is important, create a habit of clearing the table, washing dishes, and having clean countertops after dinner each night. Include your kids in the process, where age allows. Take out the trash when it gets full. Clean the bathrooms regularly. 

Teach Your Kids 

Let your family see you consistently doing the things that need to be done, but also bring them alongside you and teach them. As time goes on, they will understand the process and hopefully start jumping in without being asked because helping out is part of being in a family. This is a solid start to a good work ethic.

Acknowledge Effort 

As your kids start to show effort in helping out around the house, be sure to acknowledge it. Be specific, don’t just tell them good job or thank you. Instead, try, “I’m really proud of you for emptying the dishwasher without being asked,” or “I appreciate you taking out the trash. That was really helpful.” While they shouldn’t build their work ethic on praise from you, it helps them build confidence and provides guidance that lets them know they are on the right track.

Work Ethic by Generation

Older generations are often known for their good work ethic. Why is this the case? Generational differences such as the development of technology, the decision of parents to raise their kids completely differently than they were raised, and the condition of the world at the time contribute heavily to work ethic.

Generational Differences

Kids who were raised during the World Wars and the Great Depression were taught that if you see something that needs done, you should do it. Everyone had to help because everyone was struggling just to survive. Keeping the family afloat took the whole family, not just the parents.

In contrast, kids who were raised during the 1970s and 1980s may have experienced some relaxation in the workload. Not to say that they didn’t still develop a good work ethic, but it may not have been such a necessity to survive.

With the development of technology in the last 30 years, we have fewer opportunities to really see our surroundings. With screens in every room, not to mention our pockets, it’s easy to distract ourselves from things that need to be done. 

Personal Discipline 

Part of having a good work ethic is also having good personal discipline. Knowing when we need to disconnect from technology in order to take care of our to-do list goes a long way toward maintaining a good work ethic.

Unlike personality traits that you are born with and you didn’t choose for yourself such as charisma, intelligence, or athleticism, work ethic is a choice. You can choose responsibility and hard work. You can choose to do your best. 

Your work ethic is something you can be known for just like other traits. Others may be drawn to magnetic personalities or people who are naturally successful, but at the end of the day, someone with a good work ethic is always a person they will want by their side.

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