Work Ethics

What is Work Ethics

Work ethics is a set of moral principles and standards that define how an employee should act at work. The guidelines vary depending on the company’s culture and values. Unethical behavior can lead to loss of job, reputation, and credibility. Employees with strong work ethics perform exceptionally and exhibit model professionalism which helps the organization move forward.

Work ethics usually stem from an employee’s own attitudes and values but can be nurtured as well. Workplace ethics can be promoted by having managers be the role model so that other employees can understand what is acceptable at work and what is not. Some companies provide ethics training and reward those who adhere to the ethical standards.

Top Work Ethic Examples


strong vs. bad work ethics


Work ethics are moral guidelines abided by both the organization and employees. When a person presents an attitude of hard work, honesty, and dedication toward his job, he is said to have a strong work ethic. Failure to do so can be described as a bad work ethic. A few examples of strong and bad work ethics are given below.

Strong Work Ethics

Strong work ethics refer to being professional, determined, hardworking, and dedicated. People with strong work ethics prioritize projects, complete them on time, meet deadlines, avoid blocking the workflow, and are punctual. They often serve as role models to other employees. Some examples of strong work ethics are:

Example 1:

Laurie is known for her ability to multitask and completing her tasks on time. She was tasked with leading a team to complete two priority projects. Unfortunately, Laurie feels unprepared as she has never led a team before. Instead of being overwhelmed, Laurie quickly decides to reach out to other experienced team leaders and ask questions on how to lead a team.

She gathers her input and communicates with the team about their talent, skills, and limitations. She learned which team members of her team were subject matter experts in which specific areas so that she could take better decisions and finish the projects on time. Laurie scheduled one-on-one meetings with her team members and motivated everyone to leverage their abilities.

After a few trials, Laurie was able to lead an efficient team and completed her two projects on time. She was appreciated for her quick decision-making ability and time-management skills.

Example 2:

Allen takes great pride in his work. He gets a sense of satisfaction from completing all his tasks on time. Before committing to social activities, Allen makes sure to prioritize his tasks and finish them. He tries to avoid checking his social media or mobile phone at work. He doesn’t forget to take enough breaks to recharge and get back to work.

Procrastination is something he tries to avoid at all costs. To ensure that he has a proper work-life balance, Allen spends his time getting work done as soon as possible, while also ensuring high quality, so that he can commit himself to activities outside of work.

Allen serves as a role model for employees who have trouble managing their work-life balance or producing high quality works in a short amount of time.

Bad Work Ethics

People with bad work ethics display an unprofessional attitude and lack competitiveness or desire to work. Their work can lead to a lack of accountability, reliability, and productivity. Employees with bad or weak work ethics tend to engage in unprofessional relationships and commit themselves to social activities without fulfilling their work. Some practical examples of bad work ethics are:

Example 1:

Alice was never able to commit herself completely to her work. She tends to say ‘no’ to every work that comes her way. However, she never discusses her work issues with her supervisor.

She lacks any desire to take initiation and avoids going the extra mile to finish her projects. Alice never finishes her work on time and constantly goes through her social media or mobile phone without prioritizing her tasks.

Being undedicated and avoiding reaching out to seek solutions can be an indicator of bad work ethic.

Example 2:

Dan is known for forming unprofessional relationships at work. He engages in power politics and tends to openly argue with the manager. Also known for initiating workplace gossip, Dan deliberately abuses his lunch breaks by leaving early and returning to work very late.

Being negligent has caused loss of important documents, performing tasks inefficiently, and submitting incomplete work.

Displaying hostility towards managers, being negligent, and being a part of workplace gossip are a few examples of bad work ethics.

Importance of Work Ethic

A good work ethic indicates that an employee consistently produces a high standard of work while staying professional and displaying high ambition. Having good workplace ethics ensures that employees commit themselves to perform their best and generating good results. Employees who exhibit ideal work ethics inspire others to do the same. Organizations usually reward people who present strong work ethics and motivate others to do the same.

Good work ethics increase the quality of work produced, productivity, and professionalism among employees. Some examples of good work ethics include being punctual, acting professionally, and having an overall positive outlook toward work.

Different types of Work Ethics

Work ethics refer to moral guidelines, principles, and attitude one presents toward their job. It also includes the attitude and moral principles an organization displays toward their customers and employees. Work ethics also involve the traits and values employees exhibit among themselves. There are 7 types of work ethics:

1. Personal Ethics

Personal ethics refer to the moral values of a person presented in everyday life unrelated to work. While personal ethics are different from professional ethics, they are the base of how an employee presents himself at work. If an individual tends to be honest and dedicated in their personal life, they are more likely to exhibit the same traits in the workplace. Likewise, if a person is arrogant and criticizes everyone openly, they are likely to be unfair and discriminatory at work. A few examples of personal ethics are empathy, integrity, respect, fairness, etc.

2. Business Ethics

Business ethics are a set of guidelines and practices a business follows to honor business procedures related to products and services. These guidelines are applicable from upper-level management to lower-level management. Strong business ethics indicate that the business adheres to policies regarding fraud, bribery, insider trading, social responsibility, corporate governance, etc.

3. Employer Ethics

Employer ethics refer to the attitude and values exhibited by employers in recruitment or firing practices. Organizations with good employer ethics do not discriminate candidates and treat everyone with respect and fairness. They avoid being abusive, criticizing publicly, or any other practice that potentially degrades the morale of employees and candidates.

4. Customer Ethics

These ethics govern the way an employee or organization conducts with their customers. Companies must define guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not. Strong customer ethics can lead to increased trust and loyalty among customers, irrespective of minor product or service problems. Ethical organizations treat their customers with respect, honesty, integrity, and accountability. Displaying poor moral values and wrong attitudes can tarnish the reputation and brand image of the company.

5. Legal Ethics

Companies that do not abide by the law potentially turn customers and employees away from working with them. Legal ethics refer to maintaining and following the honor and dignity of the law. Having good legal ethics ensures that the interests of stakeholders are safeguarded.

6. Social and Environmental Ethics

Social ethics refer to the set of behaviors and practices undertaken by businesses toward a community or society. Social and environmental ethics are often referred to as ‘Corporate Social Responsibility.’ This term covers the practices and policies of a company that reflect its responsibility towards society and the environment. It is mostly self-driven. This concept explains that organizations have certain responsibilities to the society and the environment around them.

7. Cultural and Diversity Ethics

Cultural and diversity ethics refer to the attitude and moral principles of employees or employers on how they accept people from different cultures and diversity. Employees working under one roof come from different backgrounds and follow different values specific to their culture. Ethics related to diversity are developed in the workplace to ensure that people from different socio-economic backgrounds are provided equal opportunities and feel comfortable working within the organization.

How to develop a Strong Work Ethic

steps to develop strong work ethics

Work ethics are usually emanated from an individual’s personal ethics. However, workplace ethics can be developed by following these 5 steps:

1. Identify factors that diminish work ethic

Before implementing initiatives to develop workplace ethics, consider identifying factors that cause employees to be unethical or diminish others’ moral principles. Conduct personal interviews, group discussions, or surveys and encourage honest feedback on the areas that need improvement within the organization.

2. Encourage managers or supervisors

After identifying the factors that block employees from being ethical, take immediate action and encourage managers and supervisors to embody the required ethics so that they serve as role models for others. Managers or supervisors that are unethical will encourage others to do the same. It is important to set examples which employees can follow.

3. Initiate team activities

Employees are more motivated and have a positive attitude when they are working as a team. Arranging workshops gives employees a reason to increase their willingness to work or leverage their skills. Implementing team activities will encourage people to work as a team which will improve rapport and they try hard to not let their teammates down.

4. Host one-on-one meetings

If the above steps fail to make employees develop their work ethics, host a 1:1 meeting with employees who exhibit troublesome attitudes. Have one-on-one meetings with them and try to understand why they are behaving the way they are, if they need any additional help, or if any external factors influence their behavior.

5. Design an ethics training program

While it’s not unusual to fail to help employees develop good work ethics, such problems reveal a problematic issue with the company itself. It could be miscommunication between the management and employees, or the employees are unsure of what’s expected of them. In such cases, designing an ethics training program will greatly help. To successfully implement an ethics training program:

  • Build a solid foundation and stick to it
  • Identify where employees stand in terms of their work ethic
  • Recognize and eliminate external factors that damage employees’ work ethics
  • Ensure proper communication of expectations between management and employees
  • Explore different types of ethical training
  • Involve the upper management
  • Incentivize the program, rewarding those who adhere to the guidelines
  • Maintain the progress

One Step Towards Building Strong Work Ethics with Keka.

There are many ways to manage poor work ethics, but each of them can only begin with one thing – communication. Whether it’s identifying the reasons for bad work ethics or explaining the guidelines, employers must take time to schedule a 1:1 meeting with employees. Publicly criticizing them will only degrade their morale and decrease productivity.

One-on-One Meeting” is one of the main features of Keka’s Performance Management System. Such meetings need not be formal; managers can have informal meetings with their employees to make them feel comfortable and open up. Some of the important features of Keka’s One-on-One system are:

  • Setting context and agenda before any meeting
  • Maintain a log of meeting notes of every meeting
  • Integrate OKRs and goals into the discussion
  • Set reminders and schedule follow-ups
  • Monitor everything on a single dashboard

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q1. How to develop strong work ethics?

To develop strong work ethics, practice punctuality, refrain from gossiping, be respectful of others, and just be consistent in displaying a positive attitude and values.

Q2. Is work ethic a skill?

Work ethic is a skill that can be developed through work experience and time. Work ethic, just like any other skill, can be learned or developed. Some people find it easier to learn this skill while others may require more time.

Q3. What are the basic rules for work ethics?

The basic rules for work ethics are:

  • Being respectful
  • Honesty and transparency
  • Competitiveness
  • Integrity
  • Being the good example

Q4. What are the top skills for work ethics?

The skills for work ethics are time-management, discipline, accountability, cooperation, integrity, dedication, and reliability.

Q5. What is the top difference between strong and bad work ethics?

While strong work ethics refer to an employee’s ability to be professional and dedicated toward their work, bad work ethics refer to employees who are unprofessional and lack any desire to be competitive at work.

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