Working right? Or are you just working..

Work ethics are values that help one create an optimistic and positive approach towards work, as well as guiding one’s behaviour when at it. However, most definitely everyone will have their own subjective perceptions of what is optimistic, positive, and what can guide them best. To some, good work ethics could mean to hold the spirit of enthusiasm to give their utmost best, or even beyond that of what is required, while to others it could mean going by the rule of ‘greater efficiency through less work.’

That however, yields two very different results. This is evident according to the US Bureau of Statistics. It was found that Singaporeans clocked 2,409 hours annually but had the 4th lowest gross domestic product (GDP), while Norwegians worked the least, putting in 1,414 hours but scored the highest GDP. Thus, it is not about working long hours that define whether you have good work ethics.


Then begs the question – what constitutes good work ethics? Personally, here are 5 elements/factors to hold dear to in order to start off with a strong foundation.

Integrity “Success will come and go, but integrity is forever.” Ideally, integrity should be the cornerstone on which one builds their work ethics upon, and is paramount in all aspects of a job. Without it, there won’t be trust and relationships being nurtured with clients, colleagues as well as superiors. Clients will trust the advice provided, colleagues will value the honest feedback given, and superiors will be able to fully rely on his or her employees, trusting that they will not steal from the company or jeopardize it in any way.

Sense of Responsibility The Workplace Accountability Study recently revealed that 82% of workers avoid taking responsibility, but 91% rank it as one of the top development needs they’d like to see at their organization. Imagine the difference it will make when everyone feels personally responsible for his or her job performance, and they complete their task to the best of their abilities and are punctual in delivering it – 100% effort is put into whatever they do… What a wonderful place to work at. As Winston Churchill once said, “the price of greatness is responsibility.”

Emphasis on Quality Individuals with strong work ethics are mindful of their work quality. They go the extra mile with the commitment to improve the overall quality, be it for personal development or for the company.

Sense of Teamwork Teamwork is indispensable as a value that constitutes good work ethics. Recognizing that teamwork can be very useful, there is consistent effort to constantly build rapport with others, so as to be able to deliver quality not only as an individual, but as a team. They give due respect to their superiors by being able to work with anyone they are in a team with, even if it’s someone they do not enjoy working with. Teamwork also means having communication. A survey done in the US shows that about 75% of employers, rate team work and collaboration as “very important”, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews. Understanding how the members of your team operate will reap greater benefits.

Balance A recent report from China’s state media reported that 600,000 mainlanders die every year from working too hard. Also, according to a study by the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University, as a person’s work hours increased, the likelihood that he or she would report problems at home grows dramatically. Approximately 10% of workers who work for at least 50 hours each week report conflicts at home, while more than 30% of those working 60 or more hours report conflicts or problems. As the saying goes, “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” A person with a healthy work-life balance is one attractive employee.


There are many other values that are a plus to constituting good work ethics, such as dedication, productivity, and character. But ultimately the 5 values mentioned above sets the foundation. That having said, there is really no hard and fast rule. Personally, I keep these 5 basic values close to my heart, and it has worked out pretty well for me so far.

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