They say you are what you think! This is a simple yet powerful statement that holds true for almost all of us. Our actions, thoughts and the way we perceive the outcome of our actions are responsible for our outward personas. They don’t just impact us, but also people who spend considerable amounts of time such as our parents, spouse, children or even colleagues.

That’s why the concept of ethics assumes great significance. People are judged by their ethics, but ethics vary from one community or region to another.

Ethics are a common and crucial set of behavioral guidelines that are necessary to exist as a part of society. Ethics, in a way, ensure that our actions are not aimed at harming anyone. There are certain ethics that are universal in nature. For instance, killing someone or stealing money is considered unethical and unacceptable in any civil society.

Just like you need to abide by a certain set of ethics for your social life, you also need to stick to certain principles in your professional one. This set of principles is known as work ethic. Let’s take a detailed look at the meaning and importance of a work ethic.

What Is Work Ethic?

The meaning of work ethic refers to a set of behavioral rules that create a positive environment at work. A strong work ethic can lead to employees being fairly treated, which in turn motivates them and develops a sense of loyalty towards the organization.

On the other hand, office politics and a management that doesn’t encourage ethical and fair behavior is bound to make employees depressed and disinterested.

A time, when this plays out, is the appraisal season. Assessing employee performances is a key function of any business. To ensure that the assessment is fair and free of manipulation, it is important to create an appraisal system that takes into account the year-round performance of employees. There is also a need to integrate periodic reviews to be able to do this effectively.

Employees have to be made aware of whether they are doing the right things, and if they need any course correction. A strong work ethic ensures that there are adequate directives and correct work practices in place to mentor the employees properly. These practices lead to fair and equal treatment of all employees and a transparent appraisal system.

In organizations where a strong work ethic is missing, employees may find it difficult and uncomfortable to survive and work for the long term. Let’s take a detailed look at the meaning and definition of work ethic to understand it better.

Meaning of Work Ethic

We just read about the meaning and scope of work ethic from an organization’s perspective. Now, let us find out about the employee work ethic. An employee also needs to reciprocate the care and trust that an organization invests in him or her by hiring him.

An ethical worker is loyal and committed to the goals of his organization by putting in their best efforts. Genuine effort and dedication towards company goals is appreciated and rewarded with remunerative and hierarchical growth by organizations that have a strong work ethic.

Hence, it won’t be wrong to state that building an ethical employee-employer relationship is dependent upon both the stakeholders. While organizations need to be impartial and supportive in their appraisal and performance review processes, employees also need to display certain traits that highlight their strong work ethic.

Let’s take a look at these traits:

  • Dependability

  • Integrity

  • Honesty

  • Professionalism

  • Focus on goals

  • Dedication

  • Inherent values

  • Determination

Apart from having these qualities, employees with a strong work ethic don’t shy away from taking responsibility for their actions and they honestly admit whenever they make a mistake or fall short of expectations. They are not into the habit of playing the blame game and whole-heartedly focus on the solutions whenever the organization faces a challenge. In short, ethical employees make all possible efforts to do the right things.

Importance of Work Ethic for Business

A strong work ethic is very important for any modern business organization. There are a number of advantages of adopting an ethical approach at work:

  1. Superior asset management

In a company that has an ethical work environment, workers remain committed to the organization’s growth. In such a scenario, the employees behave responsibly towards company infrastructure and equipment to enable the best possible outcome. Whether it is a company laptop, printer or a production machine in the factory, the people using them will always follow the right and ethical practices. This will increase the longevity of the equipment and reduce the maintenance and operating cost.

  1. Superior productivity

The emphasis on ethics and giving due importance to the work assigned to them push employees to work more efficiently. They won’t be merely interested in finishing their quota of eight hours a day and leaving the premises.

On the contrary, they will be self-driven to adhere to the timelines and quality parameters of the task assigned to them. They will be willing to put in extra effort to meet the project deadlines whenever needed.  Such a committed approach will increase the company’s productivity and market share. Further, the company management would feel assured that its personnel will support them through any situation and remain committed to the growth of the business.

  1. Ethic breeds team spirit

Work ethic also helps cultivate a healthy, collaborative and pleasant company culture. When employees feel valued, respected and inclusive, they focus on being active contributors to the organization’s success.

Such a work ethic fosters a spirit of bonding and collaborative working among teams. Instead of credit-hogging, the mindset moves towards credit sharing. People start seeing themselves as a collective force and focus on the welfare of the team and not just on individual growth. This team spirit further enhances the company’s performance in a long-term sustainable way.

  1. Brand value and public perception

It goes without saying that ethical work culture will help in boosting the company’s public image and the market value of the brand.

When people come to know of a company that has employee integrity, commitment and professionalism built into its processes, they will automatically view it as a responsible brand. The ethical hygiene of a company is also reflected in its products and customer service as it becomes synonymous with transparency, quality and responsive consumer support.  Such companies gain a lot of goodwill by way of word mouth and acquire customers organically.

  1. Embracing change

One of the most important aspects of ethical work practices is that employees become adaptive to changes. They don’t remain confined to conventions and develop out-of-the-box thinking.

They become understanding, dependable, trustworthy, self-driven and highly responsible. Whenever the situations demand a change or there is a challenge, they proactively adapt to the changed scenario and take steps to prevent any disruption or drop in the performance of the organization.

In companies where such ethical working is not encouraged and employees don’t align themselves with the organization, it is common to see them leave the ship as soon as it starts sinking.

  1. Smooth implementation of decisions and policies

Major decisions in ethical companies are usually taken after consultation with employees and taking into account their benefits and well-being. This leads to employees respecting and welcoming decisions wholeheartedly.

This is how a strong work ethic influences the harmonious functioning of the management, which leads to faster growth of the organization.

  1. Friction-less working

In organizations where employees work in isolation or focus only on their individual goals, there is always a chance of clashes, office politics and bitterness.

On the other hand, work ethic fosters a family style of working environment where everyone is focused on the collective performance of the company. Employees trust the company to take care of their interests and this leads to a working environment where people respect each other and are dedicated to their jobs.

Even if some misunderstandings or disputes arise, they are discussed and solved internally without the intervention of the management.

  1. Greater success for the business

The biggest importance of work ethic is reflected by the success a company achieves due to it. Ethical companies are great places to work at. They take care of their employees’ needs and concerns and provide them all opportunities to excel at work. Moreover, there is scope for future growth at such places.

Employees also feel motivated and responsible for the success of such an organization and work towards it. In such a harmonious environment, the business is bound to grow exponentially.


A strong work ethic creates a bond of trust between the employees and the organization. The employees trust the company to treat them equally and give fair compensation and future growth opportunities based on their performance, while the organization becomes confident that their employees are capable of performing the assigned duties within specified timelines.

However, to inculcate a strong work ethic, it is necessary to learn the various techniques that increase productivity, trust and coordination.

Harappa Education offers an online course titled Practicing Excellence which introduces learners to numerous productivity tricks and collaborative working practices such as the Pomodoro Technique. The technique trains you to avoid procrastination and focus on the task at hand. Through this course, you can become an expert in time management, increase your productivity and consistently deliver tasks that your organization desires from you.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Lead habit such as Resilience, the Meaning of HumilityWhat is Self-EsteemCareer Development &  Patience vs Self Control.