7 Key Traits of Employees with a Strong Work Ethic

For those of you new to cliche and classic phrases, what we're talking about here is the idea that a team is only as organized, functional, and confident as its least effective member. Your team will be dragged down by an employee with a weak work ethic, which is ineffective and inefficient, as they will slow down operations for everyone else.
When it comes time to do employee performance reviews, often the biggest stress is not just determining the bad employees from the good ones; rather the struggle is deciding which of the good employees have done a better job than the others. Instead of using blanket terms when reviewing employees, it is expected that you get a bit more specific with those that have done exemplary work. Good employees don't want to hear things like good job or great work ethic, they want to know what exactly they do well and how they can improve their performance even further.
So how do you identify the best employees? We are going to spend time going through seven key traits of employees that demonstrate a superb work ethic, so that when the time comes to evaluate them you will be confident in your ability to do so honestly and realistically. Hopefully, these seven traits will act as a guideline when it comes to determining the quality of your employees.

1. Always Shows Up

This first trait is directly related to the issue of attendance and scheduling. The best employees never, or at most very rarely, call out of work. This demonstrates a strong work ethic and clear desire to do the best at their job, something lesser employees simply do not value. This quality should be relatively easy for you to determine based on the available information found in your scheduling management system. If you don't have such a system in place, then we strongly encourage you to invest in a scheduling software such as Zip Schedules.

2. Always on Time

Tying into attendance and scheduling, employees with a strong work ethic are also always on time for their shifts, if not a few minutes early. However, there are occasions where lateness is to be understood, such as having significant car troubles. Reliable employees will always keep you, or someone in a management position, in the loop about these things as they arise. Exemplary employees will also do what they can to make it to work in spite of these challenges.

3. Willingness to Work Overtime

Another trait that relates back to the quality of work performance, in regards to scheduling and attendance, is the employee's willingness to pick up overtime shifts. A dedicated employee will be willing to pick up extra overtime shifts as needed, including when the restaurant is short-handed because another employee has called out, but we'll address covering shifts in the next point. This willingness demonstrates a commitment to excellence in performance that is unrivaled, signaling a solid employee with a valuable work ethic.

4. Willingness to Cover Shifts


This trait is more demonstrative of both an excellent work ethic and a sense of compassion, as it relates to fellow employees. The work ethic component of this trait is obvious since it displays a capacity to work more than originally scheduled. An employee that covers shifts whenever they're asked, or at least a significant chunk of the time, shows that they are flexible, hard-working, and most importantly possess the empathy to want to help out a fellow employee who needs it.

5. Flexibility in Their Schedule

Employees that are not flexible with their hours and days do not necessarily have a poor work ethic. For some, it is just part-time work and a change could conflict with their other obligations. Others may have familial obligations that need to be met. However, when an employee is exceptionally flexible with their availability, you get a sense that they care about their job to such a degree that they're willing to adjust their own lives to make sure the company's needs are adequately met.

6. Actively Engages with Customers

Exceptional staff should be friendly, courteous, and willing to let some of their personality shine through in their interactions with customers. An employee with a stellar work ethic will be a natural at this, while a not-so-good employee will have very generic interactions with customer, only providing them with the necessities.

7. Always Appears Organized and Tidy


The age-old saying dictates that one should never judge a book by its cover, this is mainly true; however, when it comes to an employee's physical appearance at work, doing so might just be acceptable. An employee that takes pride in their appearance is one that likely takes pride in their work, too. On the other hand, an employee whose clothes are not tidy and neat is one that might need a reminder on proper cleanliness and work attire.

There you have it - our seven key traits that all employees with a good work ethic should display. The key thing to keep in mind when evaluating an employee using these criteria is that consistency is the vital metric in question. Every employee is going to have a bad day; there is no avoiding it. However, the employees who consistently exceed these criteria are the ones that you want on your team. If you're interested in learning more about how to hire the right employee the first time around, check out our article on the 14 secrets to hiring the right employee.