Dictionary- noun the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.
Let’s talk about the definition of work ethic. Any description that uses the phrase “hard work” tends to get the same response as when someone yells “FIRE!” What happened to the quality work ethic? Author Jeffrey Tucker wrote in his article How to Develop a Work Ethic and Be an Amazing Employee writes that circumstances have changed in the work force with young people today. He refers to the fact that young people enter the work force with no prior job experience. He questions which educational course in the last 16 years of their lives taught the essential formation of being truly valuable to others.
Tucker notes, “The old sentiment said that work is as good, or better, a teacher as school. It believed that it was essential for all young people to have jobs so that they could develop a work ethic before they became full-time professionals.” Labor laws prohibit remunerative work before the age of 16, leaving accountability jobs viable for only 18 and older. He continues, “The work ethic is the casualty. This is sad and ridiculous because having a work ethic is not actually difficult. It requires very little other than focus and a handful of rules. They can be summarized: Punctuality, the willingness to do what is asked of you, the discipline to stay on task, the drive for excellence, the capacity to be creative, the passion for discovery of unmet needs, and the adoption of a service-oriented mindset.” (Note- after reading this article and the rest of the Lifestyle section, grab your scissors and cut out the highlighted rules—what a beautiful description of work ethic.)
Tucker’s words aren’t a revelation. He simply argues that it comes down to making a commitment to a conscious, deliberate work ethic and applying it to your professional life. Tucker says, “It calls us all to excellence and creativity in the service of others, and enables all of us to assist in making the world more wonderful. That’s not only good for prosperity, it’s also good for the human spirit itself.” This last quote speaks to people from age sixteen all the way up to retirement age.
Tucker contrasts great employees with excellent work ethics to six types of bad employees:
The Braggart. This is the person who never fails to trumpet to everyone even the slightest evidence of productivity. The Complainer. This person considers every task to be a dreadful imposition. The Hoarder. This person deals with fears of job security by accumulating ever more responsibilities, refusing to ask others for help, and then never quite getting it all done while invoking the excuse of being overworked. The Offloader. The unteachable offloader imagines that he or she has been hired for a certain skill set and can learn no more. The Gossip. This person proves the adage that “idle hands do the devil’s work.” He or she fosters division, suspicion, paranoia, and discontent. The Sneak. This is the person who looks for any opportunity to appear to be working but not actually working. It becomes a game: get away early for lunch, return late, or leave the office when everyone is in a meeting.
It’s easy to recognize these traits in others, but if we’re honest, we may recognize some of these tendencies polluting our own work ethic. We are the mentors of the young workforce today. Mirror a good work ethic and reap the benefits yourself. In the end, everyone wins!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, October 15, 2017.