Work Ethic | 14 mins read

What is Work Ethic and How Can You Improve It?

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

What is Work Ethic?

Between inventory counts, bussing tables, and greeting customers, restaurant staff has their hands full. To complete the number of required tasks each day, team members must have an inherent desire to work hard and manage time properly. But what exactly constitutes a strong work ethic and how does one acquire it?

A good work ethic enables team members to focus on requirements, be professional, overcome adversity, and be accountable while on the job. Work ethic defines how devoted a person is relative to his/her role.
While many employees clock in and out every day, not all of them deliver the same value. Those with a good work ethic know that diligent effort is a critical component of any job. They aren't afraid to do whatever it takes to achieve key objectives in the workplace.

The Importance of Strong Work Ethic

In today's competitive and challenging job market, the Human Resources department will look for candidates who possess a strong work ethic. While some people are inherently more diligent and organized than others, a good work ethic is a virtue that anyone can develop.

Because it is harder to find a job in today's economy, it behooves everyone to mature their work ethic. It enables candidates to showcase their talents, answer interview questions properly, and deliver results when hired. Here are a few other benefits of a strong work ethic.

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1. A Work Ethic Shows Integrity

Employers like team members who know how to communicate in a positive and useful manner. It's not always easy to find servers, cooks, and hostesses who are respectful to customers and other team members. Integrity requires one to abstain from gossip, offer constructive feedback, and listen with an open mind.

Employers will always notice team members who show integrity while on the job and are more likely to promote them. Furthermore, any potential candidate with references that testify to one's integrity is more likely to be hired.

2. Employees with a Strong Work Ethic Overcome Challenges

No employer likes rampant negativity in the workplace. Complaining is contagious. It hurts morale, impacts turnover, and eliminates quality work. Restaurant employees with a good work ethic don't procrastinate or complain during work time.

They seize on opportunities to make money and provide excellent customer service. They are flexible and know how to take calculated risks. Employers will be more willing to promote these individuals and reward them accordingly.

3. A Good Work Ethic Enables Employees to Take Pride in Their Work

It's obvious when an employee is unhappy and frustrated by the tasks they have to complete. Customers and managers like team members who enjoy their jobs, work hard and have a positive attitude.

Restaurant staff who smile, speak kindly, and go the extra mile are what motivates customers to return. A diner may serve the best food, but if staff are rude and unhappy, patrons will run to the competition and probably leave a bad review.

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5 Factors that Demonstrate Work Ethic

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Management likes it when employees have a strong work ethic. These team members don't require as much supervision, and managers can count on them to handle big projects. Hard-working employees can help to streamline operations, minimize bottlenecks, and improve customer service.

It's no wonder why restaurant management lists strong work ethic as a requirement in each job description listing. But what are the innate qualities that demonstrate a strong work ethic? Here are the top 5.

1. Strong Work Ethic is Professional Behavior

Employers notice professionalism or a lack thereof from the minute a team member walks through the front door. A professional employee dresses well, uses good hygiene, and appears well-rested. He/she comes in at least 10 minutes early to settle in, retrieve a cup of coffee, and put items away.

When it's time to start a shift, the team member is ready. This individual does not take unauthorized breaks or change schedules without permission. A professional employee knows all of the requirements of the job and is ready to do them.

  • Interpersonnalism at 33.6%
  • Apperance at 25.3%
  • Communication skills at 24.9%
  • Time management at 20.8%
  • Confidence at 20.7%
  • Ethical at 15.2%

2. Strong Work Ethic is Organized and Productive

Team members with a good work ethic know how to follow and generate daily requirements. They utilize good time management and organization to prioritize important tasks and finish them.

For example, a cook with a strong work ethic will organize the day in certain blocks. Early morning will require food prepping and mid-morning will necessitate a review of assignments with kitchen staff. In the early afternoon, the cook will serve customers, stock items, and delegate tasks. Late afternoon will require more stocking and preparation for dinner time.

Employees who set schedules and create routines tend to be more productive. They always complete more work than those who are disorganized and fail to manage their time. Furthermore, if one team member is productive, others tend to follow suit. This improves morale and the quality of service, which helps to increase sales.

3. Strong Work Ethic is Good Teamwork and Collaboration

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A large component of a strong work ethic is collaboration. An effective team member knows that he/she is a small part of a larger operation and that everyone has an important part to play.

Those with a good work ethic know how to communicate information to the right people at the right time to meet key objectives. This also frees up time to help a coworker if needed.

Employees with a strong work ethic don't just consider their requirements, they consider the requirements of others. They know that if everyone works hard to complete tasks, it helps the rest of the staff.

4. Strong Work Ethic is Determination

Restaurant staff with a strong work ethic want to succeed and meet key goals. They are eager to make money and increase sales. Employers will also observe a determined team member by how he/she completes everyday tasks. For example, a server who thoroughly wipes down a table showcases how determined he/she is to provide the best experience for a customer.

Those with a strong work ethic will also take the initiative to solve problems. They know how to access the right resources, ask for help, and work until a bottleneck is resolved. This type of determination influences coworkers to make improvements and change their behavior. As a result, morale will increase and the quality of customer service will improve.

5. Strong Work Ethic is Consistent and Produces High Quality Results

Because of time management, determination, and professionalism, an employee with a good work ethic produces high-quality work. These team members also go above and beyond to complete more than what is expected.

For example, an employer may ask a hostess to wipe down some of the menus. A good employee will wipe down all of the menus if there is time. Because the team member always goes above and beyond, the restaurant is cleaner and more streamlined. Customers are happier, and other employees collaborate well with this individual.

  • Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable
  • An engaged workforce leads to 41% lower absenteeism
  • Low engagement results in much higher turnover and poor customer service
  • Since COVID-19, 51% of employees claim to feel more exhausted and believe it has impacted their quality of work

8 Skills to Develop with Work Ethic

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Employees with a good work ethic portray a certain set of skills and qualities. These are the team members who receive raises, coveted hours, and promotions. Because of all of these perks, it behooves every team member to develop a good work ethic. But how do they go about doing this?

Many people believe that work ethic is an inherent quality, and cannot be developed. While it is true that some individuals are naturally more organized or devoted than others, everyone can learn these skills. Here are the top 8 skills to develop with work ethic.

1. Reliability and Work Ethic

Employees with a good work ethic are reliable. Employers can count on them to show up on time, finish required tasks, and work hard. They meet deadlines in the set timelines and provide the highest quality of work. They are also good coworkers because they are dependable and helpful. Employers always trust reliable employees and those who hold themselves accountable.

  • Leads to a promotion
  • Cultivates new financial opportunities
  • Improves one's focus
  • Increases business revenue

2. Dedication and Work Ethic

Team members with a good work ethic are dedicated to their jobs. They know exactly what they need to do and utilize all of the proper resources to do it. They go above and beyond to showcase their dedication to management, customers, and coworkers.

They are grateful for the jobs that they have and demonstrate their gratitude through hard work. Furthermore, effective employees enjoy new opportunities and understand that smart risk leads to reward.

3. Discipline and Work Ethic

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Disciplined employees utilize good time management and an inherent sense of motivation to complete tasks when required. They don't slack off, make excuses, complain, or allow a personal disagreement to get in the way of their goals.

Employers notice disciplined team members by their commitment to meet key performance indicators. Employees with a good work ethic also improve over time. They observe others who are more knowledgeable and then incorporate those practices into their everyday jobs. This builds discipline and structure, which improves the quality of service.

4. Productivity and Work Ethic

Because team members are dedicated, professional, and disciplined, they tend to be more productive. Employees with a strong work ethic tend to produce a higher quality of outcome than their coworkers.

Because they stand out with their positive attitude and productive nature, customers are quick to rely on them. They utilize good time management skills to prioritize important tasks and are quick to resolve bottlenecks. They are not typically flustered or overwhelmed when a disruption occurs.

5. Collaboration and Work Ethic

Employees with a strong work ethic know how to work well with others. They understand the power of collaboration and use their coworkers' strengths to their advantage. They are humble enough to understand when it's best to work as a team.

They delegate tasks, do what is asked of them, and complete the required portion of their work. This makes them popular with other coworkers and improves their standing with management.

  • 75% of employees consider collaboration as very important
  • Employees spend 50% more time engaged in collaborative work
  • Online collaboration tools increase productivity by 30%
  • Employees who collaborate stick with tasks at a 64% higher rate

6. Integrity and Work Ethic

Employees with integrity hold themselves to a set of morals and principles. They are honest, take responsibility, and treat others with respect. They admit when they make a mistake, take action to correct it, and learn from it.

They don't try to cut corners or shortchange others, which makes them popular among coworkers. Those with integrity tend to provide better customer service, which inspires patrons to return. It also increases sales and helps to streamline operations.

7. Responsibility and Work Ethic

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A strong work ethic requires accountability in the workplace. It requires each team member to show up on time, not put responsibilities on others, and complete the required number of tasks. Management can count on these individuals to get the job done.

Employees with a strong work ethic don't complain or do the bare minimum simply to get by. They know exactly what they need to do, and take responsibility for their requirements. Coworkers can rely on these individuals and reach out to them for help or feedback.

8. Professionalism and Work Ethic

Individuals with a good work ethic are highly professional. They come into work well-rested, dressed properly, and use good hygiene. They don't spend all night out with friends and come to work with a few hours' sleep.

They take their job seriously and are grateful for the money they get to make. They know how to communicate with coworkers, and understand the importance of good customer service. They also give plenty of warning when they need to take time off, and they don't call in sick unless they are truly sick.

Tips to Improve Team Work Ethic

Employers know that poor work ethic is contagious. If too many team members take unplanned absences or engage in gossip, it hurts the whole workforce. It causes everyone to be less productive, decreases efficiency, and increases turnover.

Therefore, it's critical to cultivate a strong work ethic across restaurant operations. But a good work ethic isn't just about requiring more hours or delegating more tasks. So how can management improve their team members' work ethic? Here are some best practices.

1. Define What Constitutes a Strong Work Ethic

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Every single team member may not know exactly what management considers good and bad behavior. Management needs to sit down with the leadership team and outline what to expect from each member of the workforce.

The restaurant business needs employees to show up on time for shifts, treat customers well, and improve wait times. Management should then review these policies with new hires to ensure they understand what is expected of them. If certain team members fail to meet standards, management must work with them and outline consequences.

2. Require Punctuality to Cultivate a Good Work Ethic

Because the restaurant industry is fast-paced, punctuality is a must. If a team member comes in too late, coworkers are left scrambling. This decreases the quality of customer service and impacts sales.

Management must work with Human Resources to document all procedures for absenteeism, punctuality, and vacation days. Then, managers should review these policies with new hires to ensure they know the consequences of tardiness.

  • 19% of Americans are late for work at least once per week
  • Millenials tend to show up later than their older coworkers
  • 48% of employees are never late for work
  • Tardiness costs the State of California roughly 1 billion per year

3. Utilize Scenarios to Help Employees Develop a Strong Work Ethic

Management should utilize what-if scenarios to help employees understand what to do in certain situations.

For example, a manager may ask team members what to do if a worker forgets to pick up tips. This will help workers know the precise policies to follow in case the situation comes to fruition. It will also help to cultivate their work ethic and integrity so they can collaborate and be trustworthy.

4. Incentivize Hard Work for a Strong Work Ethic

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If a manager notices that team members are lazy and bored, there may be a lack of incentive. It's impossible to require a strong work ethic when there is no reward for hard work.

A lack of incentive will hurt morale, increase the turnover rate, and create a division between management and employees. Management needs to create good incentives for high-performing team members, such as raises, promotions, and recognition. This will improve productivity and increase morale, which helps enhance the quality of customer service.

5. Don't Tolerate Procrastination If You Want a Strong Work Ethic

Procrastination hurts customers, managers, coworkers, and the procrastinator. Unfortunately, many people procrastinate out of perfectionism, fear, or laziness. Regardless of the reason, good managers cannot afford employees who procrastinate. The fast-paced nature of the restaurant industry forbids it.

Management should work with HR to develop policies that help to minimize procrastination. They must then communicate these procedures to team members, and work with those who tend to procrastinate.

  • Procrastination affects roughly 15-20% of adults
  • Around 50% of people procrastinate by spending time on social media
  • 94% of people believe procrastination has a negative affect on their happiness
  • Procrastinators constitute 57% of the unemployed

Key Takeaways of Work Ethic

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In conclusion, here is what to know about work ethic -

  • Work ethic shows integrity and demonstrates that employees have what it takes to overcome challenges. It also enables individuals to take pride in their work.
  • Employees with a strong work ethic are professional, organized, and productive, collaborate well, are determined to succeed, and produce high-quality outcomes.
  • To develop a strong work ethic, employees should be reliable, disciplined, dedicated, productive, collaborative, show integrity, responsible, and productive.
  • To improve team members' work ethic, management should define requirements, require punctuality, utilize scenarios, incentivize hard work, and require team members to show up on time.

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