How does work ethic affect business?

How does work ethic affect business?

What’s the impact of work ethic, as part of an individual’s character, on productivity, performance and job satisfaction? And, in similar fashion, when examining things from a broader, company-wide perspective, how does work ethic affect company culture, employee retention and growth? What other business aspects bear the brunt of work ethic when that’s not optimal? 

Before we get into answering said questions, let’s first start with the basics: a definition of sorts. 

What is work ethic?

Keeping up to the distinction made in the introduction, work ethic, when it pertains to an individual, refers to the moral principles a person applies in their job. While a company-oriented or company-specific definition of it is relevant to the standards of behaviors and beliefs that are acceptable within a particular organization.

In what follows we’ll examine — for the most part — work ethic from a company-wide perspective.  More specifically, we’ll get a closer look at the positive effects it has on different business aspects. 

What is it that shapes the quality of work ethic in companies?

In short, it is the above-mentioned moral rules and principles that determine whether an organization has a poor or strong work ethic. To further explain, organizational standards, in terms of values and behaviors — accepted or, much better, encouraged — set the tone for daily behaviors in a company. And as a matter of fact, values and desirable behaviors are usually mirrored in the company’s mission and vision statements, if any. However, in some cases what’s being practiced in day-to-day behaviors and interactions among employees is far from what’s officially evangelized. That is, whether that happens intentionally or not. So, that being the case, companies usually end up with a poor work ethic.

Companies with poor work ethic

In companies with poor work ethic, there is a discrepancy between company’s values and the implementation of related policies, if any. To elaborate, inconsistency may be evident in the quality of teamwork; i.e. the interactions between employees, the cooperation between teams, the quality of communication with customers and so forth. All in all, discrepancies may also be dominant in the company’s decision-making processes and outcomes; short-term and long-term ones.

Companies with strong work ethic

At the opposite end of the spectrum are companies with strong work ethic. A company like that is highly likely to value — among other things — qualities such as:

  • honesty,
  • accountability,
  • respect,
  • reliability,
  • fairness,
  • compassion,
  • integrity, and
  • responsibility.

These values come into being in everyday interactions and decisions made within an organization.
A company that puts a high value on its work ethic will communicate its values not only to new hires, but also to existing employees; devoting a considerable amount of time so as to consistently train and educate all employees accordingly. It goes without saying that companies that live and breathe their values are highly likely to reap a number of benefits; such as the ones we explain below.

The advantages of strong work ethic 

So, how does a strong work ethic benefit a business and its employees? In the following paragraphs, we examine three core benefits:

Helps cultivate a good company culture

A company with a strong work ethic is highly likely to nurture a healthy, warm and positive company culture. One that will be enticing for the new hires and that will also help keep current employees engaged and motivated. This usually affects not only the way employees collaborate but, also, the quality of the outcomes they produce along with their velocity in producing said deliverables. 

In a similar fashion, this company is highly likely to value diversity and inclusion. Both of these are key ingredients to a good company culture. More specifically, when tolerance, respect and other qualities are valued, that, alone, helps not only improve collaboration within teams, as mentioned earlier in the text; but also widen a team’s perspective. To elaborate, different voices are to be heard; and different approaches to problems are to be implemented. And from a practical perspective, opportunities to collaborate with or expand to new markets are also increased. It also helps spark creativity and innovation, expands the hiring pool and makes it possible for new people with different backgrounds and various skills to come on board. 

Helps attract talent and increase employee retention  

There’s nothing more powerful than a good reputation, for a company that is actively hiring. Thus, a strong work ethic may also serve as a recruiting magnet. This is usually accomplished through staff reviews, on various platforms; or simply through word of mouth (WoM). A company that is well-known for its invaluable work ethic — which is rarely the case — is highly likely to attract and retain employees that value the same qualities. And, most likely, talented people with kindred spirits; who will then be invaluable human resource assets for the company. 

Increases employee engagement and helps drive success – and growth – forward

Positive working relationships, commitment, integrity and respect are among the elements of ethical behavior, at work. It’s only when all these qualities are encouraged but, also, practiced every day, that employees become efficient and determined individuals; capable of making improvements and profitable changes for the company. Consider the example of respect. When respect is valued in a workplace, then employees are more likely to respect their work and the outcomes they produce. All in all, a strong work ethic helps employees stay committed to the organization; and adopt attitudes that produce great results. 

Final thoughts

There is a difference between having already drawn up your company mission, vision and values and putting them into practice. At least, with respect to policies, guidelines and social norms. Company culture, talent acquisition and retention, employee engagement, along with growth and success, all are affected by your company’s moral code. The one that is also reflected on your decision-making process and, equally, in the day-to-day behaviors and interactions among employees; that is, regardless of their role. Building a strong work ethic starts with reassessing your company’s values. In the end, you should keep in mind that “you can’t have a million-dollar goal with a one-dollar work ethic.”