According to Saint Leo University, a strong work ethic is one of the most essential traits an employer looks for when choosing a new hire.
The job market is very competitive, and those who show a drive to do well and improve the company receive the most job offers.
Being able to recognize that your work ethic is bad is the first step toward improving it.
There are some things you can do to make your work ethic stronger over time, but before you can work on fixing it, you have to understand why your work ethic is so bad in the first place.
Why Is My Work Ethic So Bad? (11 Reasons, Fixes)
The reason your work ethic is so bad is that you lack the ability to prioritize actual work over things that provide instant gratification.
Retraining your mind to think differently can help improve your work ethic.
According to the American Psychological Association, 20 percent of men and women in the United States are chronic procrastinators.
Part of having a good worth ethic is getting things done in a timely manner.
Many people struggle with procrastination.
They put things off or think they will have time to do them later.
This can be due to being overwhelmed or just having other things that seem like more of a priority than work.
Many people procrastinate because they have been able to do so in the past and have still kept their jobs or gotten a task done.
Waiting until the last minute to focus on a work project or putting work on the back burner while you do something else that might be more enjoyable can actually make work more stressful and prevent you from achieving your full potential at a job.
One of the easiest ways to prevent procrastination is to make a list of things that need to be done and give yourself a specific time frame in which to do them.
Make it a goal to complete the list on time and do not make any excuses for not doing so.
Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing to do.
Making it a point to start your projects immediately and staying on track to finish them can make it easier to avoid procrastination.
Once you see how good it feels to complete a task on time, you will be more likely to make the same effort for future tasks.
2. Lack Of Focus
Many people have a hard time focusing on their work tasks and goals.
It’s easy to get off track and forget why you enjoy your work or why the work you do is important.
According to Entrepreneur, lack of focus is the number one reason new businesses and startups fail.
If you work for a big company, it may feel like your position is not important, or the role you play doesn’t have a large impact on the company as a whole.
Losing focus can lead to motivation to do well or even cause you to lose your desire to perform well at work.
It can also make you feel unsure of what you should be doing or which tasks are the most important.
You may have a lot of different tasks to do and not be sure which one to do first or be able to determine which one is the most important.
If you lose your focus often, you might need to train your brain to stay on track.
You may also want to talk to a doctor to rule out a medical issue that could cause concentration problems.
ADHD is common and can make it difficult to focus and stay on track when working on a project or task.
There are many things you can do to stay more focused at work and in life to regain a strong work ethic.
Those things include,
- Removing distractions
- Training your mind
- Organizing tasks
- Organizing your work area
- Taking short breaks
3. Desire For Instant Gratification
Who doesn’t love a reward for a job well done?
Instant gratification is something many people are used to and desire at work.
The truth is this doesn’t happen with most jobs or careers, and putting in a small amount of effort for a big reward simply isn’t realistic.
Without understanding that it takes a lot of work for better long-term results, you may feel unmotivated.
You may also feel as if you aren’t being appreciated at work or work is going unnoticed.
Some people don’t feel like their job deserves their hard work if they aren’t getting anything in return.
According to a recent study from the Association of Psychological Studies, delayed gratification can improve critical thinking and instill behaviors that lead to a stronger work ethic.
When you are used to wanting and receiving instant gratification in life, it can be a hard habit to break.
If you want to have a better work ethic, though, it’s worth the challenge.
Reduce the number of things in your life that lead to instant gratification.
This can include video games, shopping habits, and even eating habits.
Set long-term goals and remind yourself of the long-term benefits that come with those goals.
Train yourself to put in a lot of work for a better outcome that may take more time to achieve.
You may need to constantly motivate yourself and remind yourself what you are working towards and that it will eventually be worth your efforts.
4. Lack Of Goals
Regardless of the type of work you are doing and whether it applies to your actual career or work ethic in general, it’s important to have goals.
Goals give you something to work for and allow you to see progress as you complete small and large tasks.
If you do not have any goals, you have nothing to work towards.
You may have lost track of your goals, or you may not know how to reach them.
In the workplace, your employer may have goals for you, but you might not understand them, or they may not have been made clear to you.
Tasks become more manageable and easier to organize and complete when you know your goals or have an idea of where to start and where to stop.
Decide what motivates you and what you want in life.
Use these things to set your goals.
Once you have a plan, you can work towards it.
It can help to set small goals at first and reward yourself when you reach them.
Set bigger goals as well, so you will want to work harder on a long-term basis as well.
Communicate with your employer or team members to see what their goals are and to get help setting your own.
5. Easily Distracted
Sometimes a lack of work ethic comes from too many distractions or being too easily distracted.
Being able to devote yourself to your job or a task is much harder when you can’t stay focused on it because of outside interference.
Many people don’t even realize certain things in their lives are distractions.
Cell phones, social media, computer games, and office banter can all prevent a person from getting their job done in a timely manner or doing a job well.
The more these distractions are prioritized, the worse a person’s work ethic becomes.
A study from the University of California found that it takes the average person 23 minutes to regain their focus after each distraction.
If distractions are causing a poor work ethic, you will need to remove them from your life.
Identify the distractions and separate them from your work area.
That doesn’t mean you have to give these things up completely.
You can set aside time to enjoy your favorite distractions after your work is done.
You can even give yourself short breaks and indulge in these distractions during this time.
Making a time and place for everything will give you something to look forward to when your job is done but also keep your work area free from distraction.
Laziness is a big reason many people have such a poor work ethic.
Some people would rather put in little effort or have someone else do the work for them but still reap the rewards.
Laziness is often learned, but in most cases, people become lazy because they have no consequences for doing so.
In many work environments, if one person fails to do their job, someone else will have to pick up the slack.
This only makes it easier for the lazier person to do even less the next time a task is due.
Laziness is the lack of a desire to participate in work or give effort.
According to Psychology Today, the non-participation rate in the workforce is close to 40 percent.
This includes people who have a legitimate disability or health problem that prevents them from having the energy to work.
If you feel tired and unmotivated, you may want to see a doctor to rule out a medical issue.
Some common health problems that are often confused with laziness include,
- Thyroid problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Sleep apnea
Once a health problem has been ruled out, you will need to find things that motivate you to work harder.
The desire to improve your work ethic may be just the thing to help fight your laziness.
Work ethic comes from a desire to earn what you want or need.
People who have been given necessities and even luxuries all their lives have never seen the need to work for these things.
Therefore, they failed to develop any work ethic.
They live their lives under the impression that they deserve the things they want and need and shouldn’t have to work hard for them.
Getting over a feeling of entitlement can take some time, and it may require therapy.
Seeing how those who are less fortunate than you live can also help change your views.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter can give you an idea of how those who can’t work live.
This can motivate you to want to work harder and help improve your work ethic.
8. Lack Of Competitiveness
Competition is great for work ethic, and even those who already have a good work ethic find that competition makes them work even harder.
While many careers and life, in general, can be competitive, if a person does not have the drive to be better or be the best, it can show in their work ethic.
Some people are content with mediocre, and others strive for something better.
Learning to be competitive is essential for developing a good work ethic.
It motivates you to try harder and be better than those around you.
When it comes to a career, many employers only want to hire those who are willing to do what it takes to be the best and make their company the best.
Learn to be competitive by finding a way to work harder than others or setting personal goals that help you improve your performance.
9. Safety Net
Work ethic often comes from a need to survive.
Many people only have themselves to rely on and don’t have a safety net or a backup plan if they fail at their job.
They work hard to not only keep their job but to do well in life, so they have no negative consequences.
People who have a safety net or know that if things don’t work out, they won’t have anything to worry about are far less likely to have a good work ethic.
Simply put, they don’t need to work hard because there are no consequences for failure.
While it’s nice to have a safety net, you shouldn’t look at it as something you can rely on in place of work.
If you are lucky enough to have financial savings or the support of family and friends, let it give you some peace of mind, but don’t let it stop you from working.
Having a safety net can take away some of the stresses in life that could distract you from focusing on your work.
10. Lack Of Support
An article published by the Journal of General Psychology claims that people who have a strong relationship with their parents are more likely to have a strong work ethic as well.
Having the support of people in your life can make you want to work harder.
Not only do you want to work harder to provide for them, but it is also to prove to them that you can be successful.
If you don’t have a lot of support or anyone to push you, it can be easy to let your work ethic slack off or feel like there is no real reason to work hard.
If you don’t have the support of friends or family members, you can look elsewhere for it.
Look for support groups or join a club or organization that interests you.
Meeting new people can help you find someone who will support you and help you improve your work ethic.
Talk to coworkers or even find chat rooms and forums where other people will talk to you and be willing to offer kind words and support to help you feel more motivated to do better in life.
11. Poor Example
Work ethic is learned by watching others work hard and achieve their goals.
If you did not have a good example of a good work ethic, you might not have developed one yourself.
Watching parents fail at jobs or growing up in a situation where parents didn’t work or feel that work was important can cause you to have those same feelings.
You may not understand the importance of a good work ethic because it was never a part of your life.
Those who have grown up without learning the importance of a strong work ethic can have a hard time developing one.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
If you do not have anyone in your life who can act as a good example, look elsewhere.
Find a mentor in the same career field and ask them to work with you to teach you better habits.
Many organizations can provide professional mentorships for both children and adults to help them develop better skills and a better work ethic.