Some People Just Don’t Have a Work Ethic

By Randall Orser | Small Business

staffmoraleOften a manager will come across an employee who doesn’t seem to make as much of an effort as others. Perhaps he will even show up late, have a poor attendance record or seem to take his job less seriously than everyone else. Maybe the manager will even talk to the employee regarding his less than stellar job performance. Unfortunately, some people just don’t have a work ethic.

A manager might talk to the subordinate a number of times about coming in late or goofing off or whatever his problems may be. Yet the subordinate doesn’t modify his behavior. He just doesn’t seem to “get it.” Perhaps he may not get it any time soon. The fact is that he may just never get it.

A good work ethic is often viewed as someone caring about the quality of his work and making an honest effort to do his job to the best of his abilities. That employee will show up on time and will maintain a good attendance record. Obviously this is the total opposite approach of the person who seems to lack a good work ethic. But why is this? A person with a good work ethic feels guilty when he falls short on his job performance whereas the one without might not feel bad at all.

Quite often, a work ethic is something that is developed prior to adulthood. It is a frame of thought and a way of thinking. Somehow, the individual either acquired a good work ethic in his youth or didn’t. A boss can’t instill a work ethic into his employees. That quite often is the job of the worker’s parents during his childhood or the end result of the employee’s upbringing.

Perhaps the employee’s parents never required him to do anything around the house when he was growing up. Yet they gave him everything he wanted. This may have led him to believe that his whole life would be like that. That he would never really have to work in order to receive anything. Then he reaches adulthood. Now, all of a sudden, he is actually expected to do something before he receives rewards or compensation. Imagine the nerve of his boss! Actually expecting him to work for his salary! What nerve!

Now someone like that may eventually develop a decent work ethic but it usually takes a while for that occur. It usually takes the loss of a job or two. Then they may go through a period of self analyses. They may eventually come to the conclusion that maybe it’s not the rest of the world that is wrong. Maybe there is something wrong with them. A termination or two actually serves as a wakeup call.

If that individual doesn’t change after you, as a concerned manager, inform him of his shortcomings. You just might have one of those individuals who has not yet gone through that period of self analyses. Perhaps the loss of his current job may serve as the catalyst for him to want to modify his approach to work. At any rate, you probably aren’t going to instill a work ethic into this person as he continues to work for you.

The telltale sign would be a lack of repentance. If they aren’t going to take you serious after a few reprimands for the same offenses, chances are they never will. After a while, if the employee is often warned of consequences that never seem to happen, he just won’t take any of the warnings serious at all. You may then have no other choice at that point other than terminating the employee.

The consequences of not terminating an individual who doesn’t take his job serious are many. Those working around him may think that there is no point in working hard themselves if he is allowed to get away with his sloppy work ethic. If you are expecting everyone else to pick up the slack, then you are, in fact, being unfair to those of whom you are requiring to work harder.

You tried to correct the problem. It didn’t work. It’s time to cut this person loose. It’s not your fault. It’s just that some people don’t have a work ethic.

About the Author

Bookkeeper Extraordinaire Number Crunchers® Financial Services Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.