top of page

While work ethic can be defined in many ways, it is a concept that involves having various workplace skills including dedication and responsibility. Doing your job with a strong work ethic can help you perform tasks better, form stronger relationships with colleagues and develop a positive image for future promotions.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what work ethic is, why it’s important and how you can improve and demonstrate it at work.

What is work ethic?

Work ethic is a combination of several moral principles based on the idea that hard work is fundamentally valuable and worth pursuing. If you have a strong work ethic, you likely possess other traits such as dependability, respectfulness, productivity and collaboration, among others. For example, if you find work important and worthy of your best efforts, you will do things like show up for work on time and complete tasks by their due date. There are many ways you can demonstrate a strong work ethic, but mostly this is done by paying attention to small things throughout the day like being punctual or communicating well.

Why is work ethic important?

Having and demonstrating a strong work ethic is important because it can help you quickly achieve career goals. When you possess these skills, you will likely perform quality work, have strong relationships with colleagues and work towards achieving important tasks that add value to your organization. These accomplishments will lead to favorable reviews at work along with strong references and recommendations. Showing that you are a reliable employee will also lead to more responsibilities and opportunities—for example, work ethic is necessary for leadership roles.

All of these factors can lead to better chances at a raise or promotion and accomplishing major long and short-term career goals. Displaying a strong work ethic can result in you being seen as a highly valuable team member, which can lead to beneficial advances in your career like a raise, promotion or management position.

Image description

Ways to Demonstrate Work Ethics


  1. Put away things that might distract from your work, such as cell phone.

  2. Ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you identify areas for improvement and set SMART goals.

  3. Spend your time wisely on tasks that align with your goals and prioritize tasks by impact.

  4. Organize your notes, email inbox, and workspace for increased focus, motivation, and time management.

  5. Take breaks throughout the day and practice healthy work life balance to avoid burnout.

  6. Identify aspects of your work that motivate you such as tasks, goals or colleagues.

  7. Practice time management to complete qualify, on-time works and to be more present during meetings.


Work ethic skills

There are several qualities that contribute to having a strong work ethic. Here are just a few key skills that can help you improve your work:

  • Accountability: Having accountability means you are able to manage your own work well without much oversight. If you are accountable, you will be seen as a reliable team member who is responsible and contributes well to a task or project.

  • Discipline: Having discipline means you are able to focus and complete tasks no matter the circumstances. Managing your time well is a key component of practicing discipline.

  • Honesty: Being truthful at work is valuable because it can help tasks to be completed more quickly and in a quality way. Practice honesty when giving feedback, sharing project ideas and when you have made a mistake. Owning and improving upon mistakes at work shows that you are willing to take risks and learn from them.

  • Humility: Being humble means having a healthy perspective of your own importance in the workplace. This does not mean that you should have a negative or low view of your work or skills. Instead, it means that you prioritize listening to others, share your own ideas when it will be valuable and are honest about both your wins and your areas of improvement.

  • Integrity: Integrity is defined as always doing the right thing no matter who is watching. Practicing integrity results in gaining the trust of those around you.

  • Organization: Being well organized can help you get tasks done on time, communicate clearly with others and set proper expectations about your work. You might keep several workspaces organized such as your desk, computer, calendar and notes.

  • Quality work: While it is crucial to turn your work in on time, it is also important that the work is done well and meets all requirements. If you consistently complete work that needs revisions and leads to more time and effort, you may not be considered as having a strong work ethic.

  • Responsibility: Being responsible at work is a general quality that results in your work being done well, on time and practicing good communication skills with those around you. Responsible people know what is expected of them and deliver on those expectations.

  • Teamwork: Working well with others is a key component of work ethic. This involves having respect for those around you, practicing proper communication skills and having empathy so you understand how to interact best with each individual you work with. This will allow you to easily work alongside a team towards a common goal.

  • Time managementManaging your time well can help you meet deadlines, set appointments or meetings and communicate proper expectations about your schedule. It is also important to be punctual at work both when you arrive and when you have meetings.


How to demonstrate and improve your work ethic

Demonstrating your work ethic often simply means doing small things each day that make you a better teammate to your colleagues, clients and managers. Here are several tips you might consider when improving your work ethic:

  • Minimize distractions. To demonstrate your discipline, it can be helpful to put away things that might hinder or distract from your work. For example, if you find yourself checking your cell phone regularly, you might put it away in your desk drawer.

  • Set goals. It can be helpful to focus on improving one or two work ethic qualities at a time. To do so, ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you identify some areas for improvement. Start with these areas and try applying the SMART goal framework for specific, measurable goals. You might also consider setting OKRs with your team which can make your work more focused.

  • Take notice of how you spend your time. During a workweek, pay close attention to what takes up your time. You might notice that you tend to get on social media sites in the afternoon, for example. While sometimes taking a short break can be helpful and lead to more productivity, you should be mindful of being distracted for long periods of time.

  • Stay organized. Take some time to organize your notes, email inbox, desk and any other workspaces. This can help keep you focus and create a simple, more relaxing workday. It can also contribute to better time management skills.

  • Practice balance. To have and maintain a strong work ethic, it is important that you take breaks and have a healthy work/life balance. Working until you are burned out can decrease productivity and effectively reduce your work ethic. Take regular time off and schedule breaks throughout your workday.

  • Believe in what you’re working on. Feeling excited about your company’s mission, the work you are doing or some other aspect of your job can help increase your work ethic. If you find that completing tasks in a certain way makes it more exciting for you, like collaborating with teammates, try to incorporate more of that into your workday. Look for aspects of your work that you are naturally drawn to and focus on those.

  • Manage your time wisely. Being on time and completing tasks by (or preferably before) due dates is an easy and obvious way to show work ethic. It also sets you up for success. You will be less likely to make mistakes due to rushing and you can be more present and active during meetings when you do not feel exasperated from hurrying.

Make it a point to be at work when it is expected of you. For example, if you are expected to be at work from 9 am to 5 pm, you should be available during these times. If you are not able to be working during this time, let your manager know as early as possible with an acceptable excuse, such as a doctor’s appointment or a family emergency.

bottom of page