We often hear of lofty ideals such as work ethics. What are work ethics actually?
Work ethics include not only how one feels about his/her job, career or vocation, but also how one does his/her job or responsibilities. This involves attitude, behaviour, respect, communication, and interaction; how one gets along with others. Work ethics demonstrate many things about how a person is.
Work ethics, such as honesty, doing a job well, valuing what one does, having a sense of purpose and feeling/being a part of a greater vision or plan, is vital.
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to just get things done? They don't need "productivity hacks" and procrastination is a foreign word to them. These people have a reliable work ethic.
A work ethic is a set of values based on the ideals of hard work and discipline. Building a reliable work ethic means training yourself to follow these values. Train yourself so that work becomes a natural phenomenon instead of a struggle.
A work ethic is based on habits. Persistence, focus, "do it now," and "do it right" are the key habits in building a dependable work ethic.
The first part of a reliable work ethic is persistence. If you quickly burn out after only a short period of work or you can't stay focused on a task for long, you lack persistence. Building persistence is like building endurance for a race, so slowly train yourself to work harder for longer periods of time.
Persistence should always be balanced with periods of rest. Working twelve hours straight won't usually be the most effective strategy even if your work ethic is strong.
Even more critical than persistence is focus. Focusing all your energies for even a short period of time can be tiring, but combined with persistence it is a powerful ability to have.
Don't let yourself procrastinate. Having a strong work ethic means having the phrase "do it now" as a constant hum in the background. Time for leisure is fine, but if you are trying to work, make sure the only thing you are doing is work. Don't let yourself procrastinate when you still have an unfinished to-do list.
The final aspect of getting things done is doing them properly. Sloppy work, hastily finishing things or spending too little time working out details leads to poor quality. If you aren't going to do something properly, it's probably not a good idea to do it at all.
Perfectionism isn't necessary for many tasks, but most things require a minimum standard of quality. Writing codes without useful documentation or articles filled with spelling and grammatical errors. The "do it right" habit means actively slowing yourself down slightly to fix problems before they occur.
What's the point of building a work ethic in the first place? I can't comment on your job, but if you don't feel a natural desire to get more done and work harder, you are probably in the wrong line of work. Doing the absolute minimum and laziness might seem like a natural outcome if you are working at a job you hate. But if you are involved in a job or personal project you love, having a work ethic means you get to create, accomplish and provide even more.
The legal profession has strong work ethics as well as ethics laid down by the rules laid down by statutory bodies such as the Bar Council.
Enough has been said about the formal definition and ingredients of work ethics. Ultimately, we are humans and not automated machines. To get the best results from the employees, the employers have an equal role to play in creating the right work environment. One cannot expect the employees to have good work ethics when the environment is not conducive to the same.
The employees should be motivated to give their best to the organization they work for. Work ethics eventually boils down to professionalism blended with loyalty. Loyalty just like respect has to be earned and not demanded. The desire to share your employer's vision and enhance it will only prevail in the employees, if the same is in sync with the individual's work ethics.
Some companies spend a lot of time and money on professional training, which is a great thing. But this should be mixed with open channels of communications, building a feeling of belongingness and valuing each other. A company with good work ethics attracts likewise individuals. Employees and employers together make an organization work and for good work ethics to be a real phenomenon it has to be a two way street. What you sow, you reap!