Work Ethics As A Soft Skill: Positive And Negative Aspects

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Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person's relationships with other people. In today’s digital world that depends more on tech-based industries look for skills which comprise of smartness rather than hardworking capacity. Employers look for a balance of hard skills and soft skills when hiring employees. For example, employers’ value employees with a track of getting jobs done on time from them in a more efficient way. Employers also value workers with strong communication skills and a strong understanding of company products and services. The ability to learn new methods and technologies also is a required soft skill for all workers. Several companies value the art of learning from the past experiences and even train their employees based on their needs. Good troubleshooting is a soft skill that also is valuable to companies.


Till 20th century, employers encouraged their employees to work hard in order to gain benefits and better livelihood. This traditional practice had been followed much in the period of industrialisation, Capitalists motivated the workers to be hardworking since the work was mainly mechanical and muscular. But these values have been challenged and characterized as submissive to social convention and authority, and not meaningful. An alternative perception suggests that the work ethic is now subverted in a broader, and readily marketed-to society. This perspective has given us the phrase “work smart”.

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Work ethic is a value based on hard work and diligence in the place of work. The values of work ethics differ with each individual. There is no one set of work ethic values one has to follow. It varies among cultures, regions, and nations. Work ethics is all about the proper conduct of an individual.

It also refers to a set of values that are defined and characterized by diligence and hard work. Work ethic can be defined as the inherent ability of work to strengthen one’s character. The very essence of work ethics is being moral in one’s workplace. The combination of smart skill with value system provides for a moral work ethics. It is very much in requirement to have a work ethics that is fast-paced and competitive in nature. It must be healthy enough in contributing to the efficient functioning of the company. In order to keep pace and grow professionally, possession of several key work ethics is a demanded for achieving a successful career. Key traits such as attendance, character, teamwork, appearance, and attitude create value to both the individual, as a person and the company, in general.

Metaphoric way of understanding it is that successful careers come in many flavours, but work ethics is a main ingredient in most recipes for success. Attendance is a key factor for both students and employees. Students with goals usually possess a good percentage of attendance since they look for learning skills and knowledge, whereas employees look for attendance as a timely obligation, they are embedded with the duty to have attendance percentage for the needs of company and their self. Whether attending classes or taking on the role of CEO, knowing one’s schedule is very important. To ensure that a schedule is followed, adequate rest and reliable transportation should be top priorities. Absence from school or work should be reported to the concerned the day before or probably at the earliest possible. This gives authorities time to find another person to help perform duties of the absent. Unnecessary absence from the workplace will create a negative impression.

Character is how someone perceives another. Habits and the way of behaving with other individuals exhibit one’s character. Much like an actor who plays a role, the character traits that one possesses portray an image in others’ minds. One’s character develops as actions become habits. These habits reveal one’s character. Eventually, this role determines the outcome of one’s life. An employee must be aware of his actions and habits and the perception of others on his character. Teamwork is what gives strength to a company. Prejudices, stereotypes, hatred, conflict among the team members have no home in teamwork. Learning to cooperate with teammates as well as being assertive is important in keeping the team dynamic and efficient. Team members should constantly stay up to date with new learning opportunities, but at the same time, keep confidential information private. Appearance is one work ethic that shows one’s character and self at an instant.

Though the assumption made by appearance go wrong at most of the times, it is required and demanded. Behavior affects appearance. Attending to people’s needs and learning to be polite will make people attracted to one’s way of professionalism. Learn to adapt to the many, multifaceted wonders of life. Be open and accept the changes that will surely come. No one likes anyone who brags or whines constantly. Let your language show positive ideas. Positive responses and the positive way of taking up a difficult situation can even make one’s clients to be happier and satisfied.

Work ethics have been the backbone of success for centuries. By taking the time to develop great work ethics whether one is in a lower position or in a higher position in the company, will lead to success.

Positive Work Ethics

According to All About Philosophy's website, a work ethic includes one’s attitude, communication abilities, behaviour towards co-workers, honesty and accountability. Apart from the negative work ethics one possesses, the positive qualities of oneself that add up to the greater ethics are the confidence of the individual, happy and interpersonal interactions with other employees and employers and the optimistic way carrying the things forward. A smile at others would be a small one to do that creates a greater positive image of oneself.

Why Ethics Are Important A work ethic, especially a positive one, is important from a business perspective for the confidence it generates in the minds of clients and customers. The way of dealing with the customers and the low-level employees boost up the positive image of the company. This may also bring up contacts of the customers to the company for the desired services. In addition to the investments, employers’ management and the business skills, it is always important to have a good and positive work ethics.

Five Characteristics of Having Good Work Ethics

The good work ethics of an employee reflects his love for the job and his dedication. Positive work ethics is also contagious sometimes where many other inspirations out of the particular person. Productivity, organizational skills, being reliable and possessing good character are all attributes that successful people share, says a survey report. The five major characteristics of positive work ethics are discussed below


Workplace honesty does not refer to being true with your words rather being honest with your works. Dishonesty with the work completed like tagging other’s work as one’s. Stealing others’ work and others’ personal properties are also attributes of negative qualities of employees. Employees with strong ethics refrain from lying or cheating. Instead, they take responsibility for mistakes, own up to failures and keep the lines of communication open with everyone involved.

Refrains from gossip

Workplace gossip are unproductive and destructive. Gossips about peers, superiors, and customers is a mere deviant behaviour. The person with strong ethics would not involve oneself with the act and would not encourage his fellows to do so. Gossiping, backbiting will not create a healthy environment for working.

Values Diversity

People with a good work ethic look for a better and diverse environment. Encouraging and involving with the people of all gender, race, language and community is very important for a positive ethic person. It shows the social inclusion in the workplace without any discrimination.

Respects Others

Respect is not just restricted to people. It is also applicable to their time, their gesture, their queries and so on. Ethically strong people would not come late other than unavoidable situations, because they respect other’s time and work. Queries and doubts of the consumers have to be given priority as it holds company’s reputation.


Co-operation is the key to build team work and efficiency in the company. Circumstances may not always favour cooperating with each other. Personal opinions, workloads and other such reasons may affect it. At these situations, it is the ethically positive person who resolves it and engage in mutual co-operation with all members.


Government employees collect taxes, expend public funds, control and allot natural resources and other revenue earning items and gather and process information for the purpose of decision making, enacting laws and public policies.They are involves in various part of the government and its administration such as policy implementation, maintaining just in the society and delivering justice to the victims. All these contribute to the effective functioning and fair society. When these do not take place properly due to the unethical decisions and take holds of the government employees. In view of this need, it is proposed to develop a high quality module on ‘Ethics in Public Governance” and deliver the same across the country.

Unethical conduct as displayed by some of the Public Servants

  • Corruption
  • bribery
  • Misuse of power
  • Biased decisions
  • Pilferage of public funds
  • Manipulation of information
  • Deliberate delays in service delivery
  • Non-application of mind, negligence of duty
  • Collusion with tax payers to cheat the public exchequer
  • Intellectual dishonesty
  • Not speaking truth
  • Misuse of government facilities
  • Nepotism
  • Cover up of crime, frauds and financial irregularities
  • Electoral malpractices etc
  • Abdication of responsibility

Expectations from the Public Servants in Governance

  • Humanism and positive thinking
  • Radicalism in thought, speech and action
  • Realizing the dignity of other individuals
  • Realizing his/her placement in government as an opportunity to serve the society
  • Understanding the sanctity of Public Funds
  • Ability to satisfy himself/herself with the government salary and benefits
  • Sense of justice and impartiality during decision making
  • Ability to stand up to truth
  • Develop self-confidence & faith in one’s ideas
  • Motivate them to be the change
  • Fresh thinking, renewed energy and rejuvenation
  • Empathy for citizens, especially for vulnerable sections of society
  • Self-accountability and Self transparency.
  • To motivate the employees
  • Role model for others in the society.
  • Ethics in Organizational Culture

Employers, executives and employees, all adhering to an ethics code stimulate an ethical work culture. Business leaders must lead by exhibiting the behavior they wish to see in employees.


Compassion, fairness, honor, responsibility, and integrity are factors with which companies are tend to operate. Companies train their employees on their organisational ethics that are to be inculcated. The following are some of them:

  • Uniform rules and regulations: Rules and regulations are mandatory to all kinds of organisations. Organisations teach their employees on their rules and guidelines to be followed. They are common to all the employees and they are not varied based on the persons. Nepotism in the company is extremely dangerous.
  • Communication of the rules and regulation to all employees: Employees must be communicated properly. There should be a flow of information from high level employees to the lower ones through proper means. Transparency is what, that will protect the interests of the employees and the employers.
  • Respect for Employees: Dignity is to be restored to every individual in the workplace. There should not be any structural authority over another person other than official affairs. People of all genders, community, race, colour must be treated equally. At the cases of emergency of an employee, considering his genuine reasons managers must do the needful and should not stress him more.
  • Allow a degree of freedom to employees without constant micro-management Key roles has to be assigned to the employees based on their skills. Certain degree of freedom with adequate responsibility would improve their skills further. This can be monitored by the superiors with transparency.
  • Clear cut salary and promotion policy: Recognition is the key factor of job satisfaction. Employees must be given their recognition based on their skills and needs such as salary, promotion, and other allowances. Financial benefits are the motivators for the employees to work in an organisation. This motivating factor has to be taken care by the organisations.
  • Clear and uniform holiday schedule: Human Resourse professionals are ones responsible for creating the annual planner. It has to include the schedule for holidays both paid and unpaid. This gives the worker the plan with which he has to complete within the stipulated time.
  • Effects of Work Ethics within an organization: Preferably a workplace ethic culture will ensure that employers guide and mentor staff appropriately while management treats all as equal. Transparency is essential.
  • How Leadership ethics and Employee ethics can impact the organization: Accountability is another quality that the leaders of an organisation must possess. Such qualities inspire their employees to be accountable, responsible and dedicated. Leadership ethics are very crucial in developing the company’ efficacy.
  • What are the core ethical elements that define the ethics of an organization: There are at least four elements that aim to create an ethical behavioral culture of employees within an organization.
  1. A written code of ethics and standards (ethical code).
  2. Ethics training for executives, managers, and employees.
  3. The availability of ethical situational advice (i.e. advice lines or offices).
  4. A confidential reporting system.


The employment market has become so competitive these days, positive work ethic is a prominent one in keeping up oneself with it. Since positive work ethic is vital, it must be inculcated by all the employees of the organisation in order to gain the desired output. Following are the steps with which this can be achieved.

Be professional about your work

Professionalism does not only refer to the way of dressing up oneself and presenting oneself, it is more to it. Professionalism also includes the way of behaviour such as refraining oneself from gossiping, having a smooth impersonal interactions with co-workers, honesty and so on.

Reliability and honesty: Work ethics also includes the nature of integrity in the workplace. To develop integrity, one can:

  • Act the same when people are not watching you, as when they are.
  • Perform consistently at the same level of quality. Honesty isn’t a business policy, it is a state of mind.

Deliver best outputs: In the event of gaining success, one must take up the quality of positive work ethics. Fast outputs are possible with many of the employees but a fast and quality report can be brought up only by few and these few would have definitely inculcated the work ethics into them.


  • Honesty
  • Integrity.
  • Impartiality/Fairness
  • Alertness
  • Openness.
  • Respect for others.
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Determination
  • Dedication.
  • Accountability
  • Confidentiality.
  • Responsibility
  • Legality.
  • Competence
  • Professionalism
  • Humility
  • Initiative.


Notion of ethics is widespread today. The ethically strong and positive person has a quality that is admired by his fellow mates. Ethics is common to both personal and professional life. Work ethics mark the behaviour of oneself with honesty, positive interactions with everyone, dedication and perseverance to achieve goals. Positive work ethics will definitely grant one his desired job, his recognition in the company, promotion and other benefits. However, it’s crucial to cognise what constitutes an ideal work ethics. Ethics is the modus operandi of any task or activity since it creates a kind of synergy and harmony among the co-workers. Ethics in the work environment means those positive facets that accumulatively, define the staff of a company, e.g. Integrity, determination, dedication, initiative and so on. If asked about your ethics, then speak about how you implement them in your work and that being in a job that satisfies you, ensures that you are productive in your current job performance.

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Work Ethics As A Soft Skill: Positive And Negative Aspects. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Work Ethics As A Soft Skill: Positive And Negative Aspects.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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