A good work ethic is an important aspect of maintaining a productive and efficient workforce, bringing many benefits to a business when they're shared by all staff. While this is true of almost any business, it is even more important in industries that involve physical labor and moving parts — such as the forklift trucks found in almost any warehouse. Your teams need to take pride in their work and be motivated to keep standards and productivity high while ensuring mistakes and accidents remain low.
So what defines a good work ethic? What are the characteristics that you, as an employer, want to promote and encourage in your employees?
Integrity is at the core of workplace ethics. Defined by Merriam-Webster as a "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic value," integrity is synonymous with incorruptibility and honor. Employees with integrity are usually the most reliable; they are selfless and conscientious, with the highest moral values. This means you can trust them to try to do the right thing at all times and look out for the best interests of the company and their colleagues.
Reassuringly, finding employees with a strong sense of integrity could be getting easier, according to Deloitte's 2021 annual report on Millennials and Gen Zs. These large demographic groups occupy a high percentage of the active workforce in the U.S. and, when polled, consider themselves very much motivated by ethical issues. Keep in mind, though, that this goes both ways; while they aim to live ethically and with integrity, they also expect the same of their employers, holding companies to higher standards when it comes to support, mental health and environmental concerns, amongst other things.
When you talk about discipline in the workplace, this doesn't just mean having employees who follow instruction and do as they're asked. Self-discipline is a huge part of the equation too. This pertains to focus and motivation; keeping the mind on the task at hand and maintaining a level of action that means it will be done in good time and to a high standard.
Key traits of a disciplined employee will come through clearly in the individuals who are regularly early,not just on time, for their shift, appear well-rested and are in presentable uniform. They will be consistent in their work, which means that while they may not often exceed quotas by high margins, they will rarely make mistakes and can keep going at a steady, reliable pace. In a warehouse environment, highly disciplined workers are going to bring efficiency, safety and productivity to your teams.
Generally, strong ethics in the workplace can be self-perpetuating. Having some impressive role models leading a good example can result in others following suit. A fresh injection of new, energized staff often brings with it a sense of excitement, providing exactly this kind of enthusiasm to the warehouse. Making work ethic a key factor in employment decision-making can dramatically change the dynamics of your workforce.