A strong work ethic will more often than not translate to greater productivity, a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment at work, and more financial success and stability.
Developing a strong work ethic doesn’t happen overnight. It is more akin to a marathon runner. They train for long periods of time while making only slight, often barely perceptive improvements, until it comes the day of the big race and they are able to outlast and outperform both their competitors and their own previous results. And even then, they don’t stop training, but instead, they continue and build off their progress for an even better result further down the line.
In this article, we’ll identify some of the top characteristics that define what it means to have a strong work effort. We’ll take a look at how you can help in building it. And we’ll also explore some practical tips and advice on how to acquire or improve on those characteristics, how to put them into practice, and how to make them work to your advantage.
A Strong Work Ethic – What Does It Mean?
In a broad sense of the term, having a strong work ethic means adhering to a set of values – despite the challenges or temptations you face. These values typically revolve around honesty, integrity, and taking a task to its completion to the best of your abilities.
A strong work ethic will be defined differently from person to person according to their values. However, a strong work ethic will always bear the fruit of persistence and productivity. It will also always avoid cutting corners or misrepresenting the work completed and its value.
While there are proven techniques to improve employee engagement and motivate the team, a worker with a strong work ethic should be very easy to motivate. In fact, they may need little to no external motivation, and they should already be very much engaged in their work and with their coworkers.
Eliminating the Obstacles to a Strong Work Ethic
Royalty-free image by Michael Dziedzic here
A strong work ethic is developed over time. It is the result of maintaining good habits while avoiding the bad ones. Since a strong work ethic is intrinsically tied to value – or perceiving the value of your work – a surefire way to undermine a good work ethic or prevent you from achieving one is to, instead, allow for a sense of apathy or worthlessness to set in.
When you no longer see the value of the work you do, it becomes very difficult to continue doing it at a high level. Instead of having a strong work ethic, you will have a sense of apathy. You will not care about your work or how or even if it is done.
The two biggest obstacles to having a strong work ethic are, thus, apathy and not seeing the value in your work. This is important to keep in the back of your mind as we explore the 5 steps to building a strong work ethic.
1 – Do What You Love
It may be easier said than done, but if you want to build a strong work ethic you will need to enjoy what you are doing. To borrow a phrase from ‘70s rock singer Stephen Stills, If you can’t do what you love, then love what you do.
You could have a passion for the product or service you provide. Or, you could find the passion in servicing the customers and the specifics of the service or product are immaterial. There are several ways to tackle the problem, but one thing is clear – you won’t be able to build a strong work ethic if you don’t begin with a foundation of love and passion.
2 – See the Value in What You Do
Once you find a way to do what you love (or love what you do), the next step is to see the value in your work. Of all the steps we are going to talk about, this one might be the easiest. It is a logical extension of step number 1. But it is important that you not overlook it.
There are many different ways to interpret what it means to provide value. Generally, if you love doing something and you make other people happy in doing it, then it should be very easy to see the value in that task or activity. Value does not need to be translated into a monetary number – at least it doesn’t need to at this stage.
You should get to a point where you see others – the world, to an extent, or more locally, your neighborhood, your community – as being better off because of what you do. People are happier, healthier, or in any other way you can identify, they benefit from the job you do. What you do has value. And the value is tied to you doing the job and doing it well.
3 – Demand the Appropriate Compensation and Treatment for the Work You Do
You should love what you do so much that you would be willing to do it for free. However, don’t do it for free. While it is possible to work for free with a strong work ethic, if you don’t already have a very strong work ethic, being underpaid or undervalued for your work will make it very difficult to build a strong work ethic.
You should see the value you provide. And you should put yourself in a situation where other people see the value too. This serves as positive reinforcement while, at the same time, elevating the standard of your work.
While economic realities may mean that the compensation you feel you deserve is not realistic, it is important that the customers you help and/or the company you work for see the value in what you do and treat you accordingly.
Not only will this go a long way toward maintaining the high standards of work that are needed to build a strong work ethic, but it also works to prevent feelings of resentment or feelings that you are being taken advantage of from creeping in. These kinds of negative feelings may seem insignificant at first, but they have a way of festering and growing in you. And before you know it, they can undermine the passion you once had for your work. Once that passion has been compromised, the work ethic is sure to go.
4 – Constantly Look for Ways to Improve
Like any path to a precise destination, the steps to building a strong work ethic follow logically one after the other. If you love what you do, you see the value in it, and you are rewarded appropriately, it stands to reason that you will strive to be as good as possible at your particular job or task.
You should be keeping an eye on your peers and competitors, not because you feel threatened, but because you are curious to investigate new methods and new techniques that could help you add value to what you love to do.
Constantly looking for ways to improve implies that you have enough humility to admit that there is room for growth. In order to build a strong work ethic, you will look at new trends in your field. You will consider taking training courses or attending seminars and conferences. You will have a thirst for practical knowledge you can apply to your craft.
5 – Constantly Look for Ways to Make Others Better
When you combine a passion for what you do with the humility to seek to do it better, it won’t be long before you are seeking to advance the craft with little to no regard for any personal benefit you stand to gain. The passion for the craft and the value you see in it will be motivation enough.
When you’ve reached this stage, your work ethic will be so strong that others who work with or around you will themselves be strengthened too. You will be ever ready with a word of motivation and/or a positive tip to help others who are in a similar line of work as you are. In doing so, not only will you add value to the work you do yourself, but you will add value to the work of your colleagues and peers.
A strong work ethic starts with a passion. From this passion, value is identified and then confirmed through compensation. What inevitably follows is a beautiful cycle of enriching and improving on the job you do, which thus further confirms the passion and the value. The improvements extend beyond you to all those who are blessed enough to work with or near you.
Like with a marathon, building a strong work ethic is not a sprint. But it is a healthy a rewarding endeavor.
Russell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He writes in business, tech, and fashion as well as creative fiction. You can reach him by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
Main pic source: Royalty-free image by Clique Images here