In today’s work climate, the definition of a hardworking person can be a slippery slope.
Hard-working people might shake the work-life balance scale, but some hard-working people seem to manage to get everything done and still have time for happy hour or a kid’s soccer game.
It leaves a big question mark about how hard it is to be diligent and what we can do to improve our workflow.
What does it mean when someone is hardworking?
“She works hard for the money, so you better treat her right.” – Donna Sommer
Donna Summer was so inspired by a hard working woman she met in 1983 that she wrote a hit song about her.
Forty years later, we’re still inspired by the people who “work with energy, dedication and diligence,” as the dictionary defines it.
If a person is considered hardworking, they will:
Come early or stay longer if necessary. Complete projects on time. Work well with other team members. Resolve conflicts
It’s just as important to know what hardworking isn’t. Hard work and burnout aren’t cause and effect, or at least they shouldn’t be.
In any relationship, it’s important to set boundaries about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Make these boundaries and your goal to work hard clear during the interview.
You and your boss don’t want any surprises along the way.
You should also ask what your boss thinks of a hardworking employee.
It may not be a good position if your definitions don’t match.
11 Traits of a Hardworking Personality
Examples of hard work vary by career choice, but all have similar threads woven into the fabric of a person’s work ethic.
Meeting deadlines and being on time are two of the top qualities of a hard worker. You start every working day on time. A person who works hard is not going to sleep in with a caramel macchiato or go for a walk ten minutes late.
They start on time and are always ready with a notepad or laptop at the start of meetings. Hard workers generally believe that being five minutes early is punctual.
The people who work hard don’t just burn energy chasing their tails. They are focused on the task at hand and rarely get distracted from their goals.
They are not aloof, but they will pull themselves together to complete a project and avoid outside influences that might ruin their laser focus on a task.
Every job has aspects that an employee loves, and then these not-so-fun tasks. A person with a diligent work ethic will approach any task with dedication for the good of the company or organization.
They believe in the power of hard work and achieve the goals set for them. They are also committed to their colleagues. Yes, even the ones you might not personally like. They do not allow personal feelings to influence work behavior.
Sometimes you can see examples of hard work where you don’t look, like the person who rarely, if ever, calls in sick. That doesn’t mean they come to work sick and spread germs, but they do respect the boundaries of their personal lives and workplace.
They create healthy habits in the evening hours and avoid unnecessary sick days because work is important to them.
Hard-working colleagues are rarely toxic. They don’t engage in gossip or complaints because, frankly, they’re too busy with work.
You’ll build a team that’s struggling to stick together, or maybe give one of those Hollywood-style inspirational speeches to motivate colleagues. These people are always helping a struggling colleague or welcoming a new employee.
Some of the hardest working people have their own organizational system, even if it’s hard to understand at first glance. They even set aside time for organization. This could be a weekend note with a Monday “to-do” list, or a Monday morning check of all emails.
Whether their color-coded system is in a filing cabinet or in the computer calendar department, they can always find what they’re looking for without having to sift through stacks of paper or mismanaged email accounts.
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7. 102% given
In every profession there are times when someone needs to come earlier or stay longer. Perhaps there is a weekend call or event that you can attend.
Hard workers won’t cry, “This is my personal time” when asked to do whatever it takes to meet a deadline or impress a client.
The only concern of this industrious habit is if a person becomes a martyr for always staying late or working weekends.
8. Forward Thinking
These hard workers hustle in the here and now, but they also “sort of dress for the job they want.” Hard-working people tend to get promoted or have higher career aspirations, leading them to think more about how their actions today may impact their work tomorrow.
They help others achieve the company’s mission and goals so that the entire workforce can be successful in the future.
9. Quality Control
“Anything worth doing is worth doing right” might be the motto of these hardworking office anomalies. You will not work hard just to get the job done.
You want to get the job right the first time. They take the extra time to check spelling or review a presentation. You could even start over if an idea doesn’t work.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced every worker in every industry into a new realm. Hard workers didn’t mind that much because they had built adaptive habits.
Whether it’s a new company, layoffs or new technology, they approach it with an open mind and learn new ways of working, rather than resisting change or complaining about it at the water cooler.
You can also influence colleagues to be more adaptable to new projects.
Because of all of the above measures, these workers are naturally more positive than others. They see opportunity, even in the face of adversity, and—despite their busy lives—always have time to smile and ask how you are.
They bring a refreshing vibe to the busiest days and celebrate success wildly and openly. They offer compassion and care, but make no excuses.
Is diligence a skill or a quality?
Every generation has a different idea of what hardworking really means. In the boomer days, hard work was the only way to survive. Sick days were generally frowned upon. They worked until the job was done.
Generation X inherited the work ethic, but also coined the phrase “work hard, play hard.” Millennials and Gen Z have adapted their own concept of hard work with a solid emphasis on quality of life.
This is relevant because working hard is a mindset. You may have inherently hardworking qualities, but then look at the hardworking skills you’d like to improve.
Charlotte is one of the top salespeople at her company, but she’s always five minutes late for meetings and rarely emails back. She works on the ability to be on time by setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier and making punctuality a priority. Bob is very positive and helpful. He learns all the new systems so much faster than others. However, his desk is a mess and he is always messy when communicating. Bob decides to improve his organizational skills to turn his hard work into more productive results. Tina is a “we’ve always done it this way” person. She loves her job and is the best resource for the history of the company and the current system. Still, she drags everyone else down with complaints about the new accounting process. She promises herself that she won’t complain about it for three weeks because she knows that’s the time it takes to form a habit.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over generations, it’s that you can work hard and still have time for a personal life.
Being more mindful and aware of your mental health and how it affects your job quality can make us harder workers, even when we’re not burning the midnight oil or being attached to our work email after hours.
Hard work doesn’t always have to be hard. With the above attributes, you can learn to work smarter, not harder.