“Work ethic,” a term touted the most in recent years by employers complaining of its lack particularly in the GenZ generation, is one of the the most important skills one can have to enable career growth, a 2023 study conducted by Resume Builder reveals.
Of the 1,000 survey respondents which included managers and business leaders, nearly three quarters of this group agreed that working with GenZ is perhaps the most challenging generation of all, due to lack of work ethics. The low work ethics cited included being easily distracted and offended, lack of motivation, and dishonesty. Deficiency in technological skills (albeit surprisingly) topped the list, with 39% agreeing this was a major concern for the younger workforce.
With 65% of the surveyed managers and leaders stating that they would be most likely to fire a GenZ employee more than any other generational group for these very reasons, it certainly poses a concern for younger workers seeking to carve a solid career path and establish themselves in the corporate world.
What exactly is the meaning of work ethic?
Work ethic is loosely defined as a set of acceptable standards and behaviors in the workplace. Beyond this, it consists of a collection of character qualities that sets an individual out from the rest, and directly links their hard, diligent work with reward, recognition, and a strong moral reputation that paves the way for future career success.
What qualities do I need to have good work ethic?
For the 1,000 managers and business leaders interviewed by Resume Builder, their main concerns (apart from technical aptitude) included:
- Being easily distracted
- Taking offence easily
- Lack of motivation
In a digitally charged culture of always being online, distractions occur almost all the time in the forms of social media, notifications, pop-ups, marketing emails, and instant messaging. Maintaining solid focus on the task at hand ensures you bring quality and due diligence to your work, drastically improving your performance, enabling you to see gaps for improvement, and fast-tracking your achievement of KPIs and targets.
If, like many of us, you struggle to maintain concentration, consider blocking out “focus time” into your working schedule. This can be 30 minutes, an hour, or more, in which you attend to tasks that require the most attention and take more time, mental energy, and concentration. Pick a slot of the day when your brain is at its sharpest and mute all notifications for that period while you do “deep” work.
Through regularly training your mind and re-setting your habits, you will become accustomed to staying focused for longer periods of time so your work can be performed at optimal level and you can be more productive in your work time.
Receive constructive feedback
While it can sometimes be tempting to justify yourself by blaming the other person or external circumstances for poor behavior, there is often much wisdom to be obtained through the advice and occasional reprimands from peers, colleagues who have been in the business for years, and senior management.
While there is no excuse for harsh criticism or demeaning and disrespectful behavior, seek to recognize and receive when feedback is given for your benefit, no matter how unpleasant it may be to hear.
From someone looking objectively at your performance, especially if they have more industry experience, there could be some aspect of truth to their words. Not only you should listen to and act on constructive criticism, but take it a step further and actively seek it out. Ask your manager both in performance reviews and outside of reviews, what areas they see you doing well in, and what they think you could improve on moving forwards.
Cultivate the art of self-motivation
Being self-motivated is an essential skill for today’s hybrid/remote workforce, where one is not always under the immediate eye of their team or supervisor. Employers place a great deal of trust when they hire a candidate, and the first 90 days at a job are especially critical to that trust being strengthened or their confidence in you being weakened.
Keep yourself accountable and set high standards for your own performance at work. For example, you can create SMART goals for a project or report deadline that you are working on, and set reminders on your work calendar, or Post-It notes near your desk.
Maintain honesty and integrity
It should be a no-brainer, but honesty and integrity are vital qualities that when violated, often slip under the radar and are brought to light some time later with serious consequences for the individual and business concerned. Once trust is abused, it takes an uphill effort to bring it back and can have serious implications that mar your career prospects.
Seek to maintain a reputation for being truthful at all costs, avoiding practices such as lying on your resume, faking qualifications, cheating mandatory training, or otherwise relaying deliberately false or misleading information.
Ultimately, good work ethics extend much further than the guidance in your employee handbook. A single instance of disregarding these ethics can prove fatal for your reputation and career advancement, given the widespread use of platforms such as LinkedIn and reverse Google searches. Therefore, work ethics should be a way of life, a personal determination to adhere by one’s own code of conduct whatever the circumstances or position.