Work Ethic Curriculum Materials

Ancient stadium in Rhodes

Work ethic attributes are universally desired in the places people work, but there are many questions about how it is developed or where it comes from. When people exhibit a poor work ethic or behave in ways that are detrimental to productivity, co-workers and supervisors are quick to notice. When employers are considering hiring a person or providing training for current employees, work attitudes and work ethic are often an important consideration. Finding appropriate strategies for teaching work ethic with adolescents or adults can be a challenging task however. It is relatively easy to identify approaches for teaching people to use a spreadsheet or operate a machine, but to help people consider making personal changes in attitudes or personal traits is difficult.

Olympian Zeus temple from 500 BC

Athletic activities and competitions have been a part of human endeavor since ancient times. Stadiums for athletic events are still standing from thousands of years ago. In modern athletics we often observe that top performers began participating in their sport from an early age. That does not mean, however, that someone will not be able to learn a sport or activity later in life. In the same way, work ethic attributes like dependability, initiative, and interpersonal skills are better developed from an early age. If that does not happen, however, opportunities to develop these characteristics are needed later in life. Providing opportunities for people to do that can be difficult but it is not impossible. The materials available from this website are designed to help.

A 10-day unit for instruction of work ethic was developed during the summer of 1995 as part of a research project conducted at the University of Georgia. These materials have been used by numerous schools, colleges, and community workforce education programs over the years since they were developed. Several revisions have taken place to improve the materials, and in 2004 they were assembled into a single PDF document entitled Work Ethic and Employability Skills: A Unit of Instruction. Overall, the materials have been well received, and teachers have found them to be an effective tool for addressing work ethic and work attitudes. In some cases additional materials and learning activities have been added by individual instructors to provide a better fit for their respective students.

Work Ethic and Employability Skills: A Unit of Instruction was designed to address interpersonal skills, initiative, and dependability, constructs which were derived from extensive work ethic research. This basis for dealing with affective topics provides an objective and well reasoned approach in contrast to other materials, some of which have been based on anecdote or personal opinion. The themes woven into these materials are quite compatible, however, with most programs which seek to address work ethic and work attitudes.

Professionals in the fields of education and human resource development can download a copy of Work Ethic and Employability Skills: A Unit of Instruction for use in their work. There is no charge for non-commercial use of these materials, but they are copyrighted and all rights are reserved by the author. To request access to the unit materials contact and provide a brief description of your intended use.