Good Work Habits: Do They Exist?

Recently I’ve had conversations with several colleagues regarding the idea of good work habits and what exactly that means for an organization. This of course prompted us to reflect on both good and not-so-good work habits that we’ve experienced in the past. Some of the habits we discussed included personal-presentation, organization, productivity, work quality, initiative, consistency and follow up. 

Employees today seem to think that these basic work habits are considered as matters of personal choice and do not always see concrete business reasons for certain requirements or preferences of their managers or supervisors. Oftentimes managers and supervisors will have strong preferences or requirements without having any true business reason, that is their prerogative. At the end of the day EMPLOYERS you are paying the EMPLOYEES…it’s not the other way around. 

In general they are very good reasons for following well-established best practices when it comes to good work habits. Things to consider:

  • If employees are not well or not healthy – there is an increased cost in terms of absenteeism and increased healthcare costs. This also has a negative impact on performance and morale.
  • Unfortunately when employees do not attend to their personal-presentation [grooming] this has a negative impression on those with whom they interact…both internal to the organization and most importantly customers.
  • When employees arrive to work late, take long breaks, leave early for missed deadlines they are adding less value to the organization and oftentimes are keeping others waiting. This too has a negative impact on how the organization is viewed.
  • Employees that don’t take notes, use checklists or have some sense of organization will often lose important details and just lose track of what they are doing. All of this makes it harder for others to collaborate with them.
  • If employees aren’t paying attention to the details they are going to make more mistakes…again diminishing the quality of work and requiring work to be redone.
  • Projects that are left unfinished are almost always the result of employees that cannot be counted on to follow up and then become a distraction as others will have to constantly remind them to keep moving forward.
  • Many problems that go unsolved are the direct result of opportunities that are missed or when employees simply do not take the initiative.

We all agreed that these are very solid business reasons for managers and supervisors to enforce basic work habits on their employees. However not all of them apply to all people in all jobs. As a manager or supervisor you should always ask yourself: what is the business reason for making this a requirement?