Lesson 2 - What is Work Ethic?

Basketball player

Learning Goal: To understand what work ethic is and to recognize related worker characteristics that employers are seeking.


The work ethic is a cultural norm that advocates being personally accountable and responsible for the work that one does and is based on a belief that work has intrinsic value. The term is often applied to characteristics of people, both at work and at play. In sports, for example, work ethic is frequently mentioned as a characteristic of good players. Regardless of the context, work ethic is usually associated with people who work hard and do a good job.

Research has shown that the many characteristics of work ethic can be summarized using three terms -- interpersonal skills, initiative, and being dependable. These terms serve to organize the instructional materials presented by this web site. They also can provide a concise way to remember what work ethic is all about.

How is your work ethic?

An instrument that has been developed to measure work ethic is the Occupational Work Ethic Inventory (OWEI). This instrument has been used extensively in research and the electronic version is available to provide a basis for comparing your work ethic to that of others. The inventory provides scores for interpersonal skills, initiative, and being dependable will allow you to determine how you rate on these important areas.

Assignment 1:

Complete and click the submit button to electronically take the OWEI. Copy or print out your scores for use in class discussion. Try to be honest as you answer and consider carefully how you are now at work or how you expect to be if you do not have a job at this time.