In today's work climate, the definition of a hardworking person can be a slippery slope.
People who work hard could tilt the work/life balance scales, but some hardworking people seem to manage to get it all 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 hardworking 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 Summer
Donna Summer was so inspired by a hardworking woman she met in 1983 that she wrote a hit song about her.
Forty years later, we're still inspired by the people who “tend to work with energy, commitment, and diligence,” as defined by the dictionary.
When a person is considered hardworking, they will:
- Come in early or stay late when needed
- Finish projects on time
- Work well with other team members
- Resolve conflict
- Display a can-do attitude
It is just as important to know what hardworking is not. Hard work and burnout are not a cause and effect, or at least they shouldn't be.
With any relationship, it's essential to set boundaries of what is and isn't acceptable. Be clear about those boundaries and your goal to be a hard worker during the interview.
You and your boss don't want any surprises along the way.
For what it's worth, you should also ask what your boss considers a hardworking employee to be.
It might not be a good position to pursue if your definitions don't match up.
11 Characteristics of a Hardworking Personality
Examples of working hard will differ between career choices, but they 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. They approach every work day with punctuality. A person who works hard isn't going to sleep in or stroll in ten minutes late with a Caramel Macchiato.
They start on time and are always ready, with a notepad or laptop fired up, at the start of meetings. Hard workers generally believe that being five minutes early is being on time.
The people who work hard aren't just burning energy chasing their tails. They are focused on the tasks and rarely get distracted from their goals.
They aren't standoffish, but they will buckle down to finish a project and avoid outside influences that could ruin their laser focus on a task.
Every job comes with aspects a worker loves and then those not-so-fun tasks. A person with a diligent work ethic will tackle each task with dedication for the greater good of the company or organization.
They believe in the power of hard work, and they achieve goals set before them. They are also dedicated to their co-workers. Yes, even the ones they might not personally like. They don't let personal feelings influence work behaviors.
Sometimes you can see examples of hard work where you aren't looking, like the person who rarely, if ever, calls in sick. This doesn't mean they will come to work sick and spread germs, but they respect the boundaries of their personal life and workspace.
They create healthy habits on work nights and avoid taking unnecessary sick days because work is important to them.
Hardworking colleagues are rarely toxic. They don't get involved with gossip or complaining because, quite frankly, they are too busy working.
They will build up a team that's struggling to bond or might give one of those Hollywood-esque inspirational speeches to motivate colleagues. These people will always help a struggling co-worker or greet a new employee.
Some of the hardest working people have their own organizational system, even if you can't understand it at first glance. They even schedule time to organize. That might be an end-of-week wrap-up note with a Monday “to-do” list or a Monday morning review of all emails.
Whether their color-coded system is in a filing cabinet or the computer calendar section, they can always find what they are looking for without searching through stacks of paper or mismanaged email accounts.
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7. 102% Given
In any profession, there will be times when someone needs to come in early or stay late. Maybe there's a weekend work call or event to attend.
Hard workers aren't going to cry, “that's my personal time,” when they are asked to go above and beyond to meet a deadline or impress a client.
The only concern of this hardworking habit is when a person becomes a martyr for always staying late or working on weekends.
Those hard workers are hustling in the here and now, but they are also, in a sense, “dressing for the job they want.” Hard-working people tend to be promoted or have higher career ambitions, which makes them think more about how their actions today can impact their job tomorrow.
They'll help others help meet the mission and goals of the company so the entire staff can thrive in the future.
9. Quality Control
“Anything worth doing is worth doing right” could be the motto of these hardworking office anomalies. They won't work hard just to get the job done.
They want to do the job right the first time. They'll take the extra time to spellcheck or review a presentation. They might even start over from scratch if an idea doesn't pan out.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced every worker of every trade into a new realm. Hard workers didn't mind so much because they've built adaptive habits.
Whether it's a new company, layoffs, or new technology, they approach it with an open mind and learn new workplace ways instead of resisting change or complaining about it at the water cooler.
They can also influence colleagues to take a more adaptive approach to new projects.
Because of all the above actions, these workers are naturally more positive than others. They see possibilities, even in the face of adversity, and – despite how busy they are – always have time to smile and ask how you are doing.
They bring a refreshing atmosphere to the busiest of days and celebrate successes wildly and openly. They offer compassion and care but won't let excuses reign.
Is Hardworking a Skill or a Quality?
Each generation has a different take on what hardworking really means. In the Boomer days, hard work was the only way to survive. Sick days were generally frowned upon. You worked until the work 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 lean toward quality of life.
That's relevant because working hard is a mindset. You can have hardworking qualities inherently but then look at the hardworking skills you wish to enhance.
- Charlotte is one of the top salespeople at her company, yet she's always five minutes late to meetings and rarely emails back. She works on the skill of being punctual by setting alarms 15 minutes earlier and putting timeliness as a priority.
- Bob is very positive and helpful. He learns all the new systems so much faster than others. Yet his desk is a mess, and he's always disheveled when communicating. Bob decides to improve his organizational skills to improve his hard work into more productive output.
- Tina is a “the way we've always done it” person. She loves her job and is the best resource for the history of the company and the current system. Yet, she's dragging everyone else down with complaints about the new accounting process. She promises herself that she won't complain about it for three weeks, knowing that's the amount of time it takes to form a habit.
If we've learned anything through 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 impacts your quality of work can make us harder workers, even if we're not burning the midnight oil or attached to our work email after hours.
Hard work doesn't always have to be hard. Using the attributes above, you can learn to work smarter, not harder.