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Work ethics can vary significantly from worker to worker, but in most cases, if the employer and management team sets a good example, the employees will follow suit. If employers and managers want employees to work hard and act professional, the employers will have to do so as well. The employees will learn by example, and if the employer tends to avoid work and fosters confrontation, the employees can generally be expected to do the same. Employers can improve their employees' work ethics by providing rewards systems as well, and recognition for jobs well done.
Sometimes all an employee needs to improve his or her work ethic is the potential to be recognized for the work being done. Many employees complain they work exceptionally hard for little recognition or gain, so by simply saying thank you for a job well done, or granting a certificate of appreciation you may give him or her the incentive to work harder. Public recognition is important; employees should be recognized in front of other employees not only to give that worker a sense that they are being shown as an example of exemplary work, but also to motivate other workers to follow suit and improve their own work ethics.
Of course, this technique will not work if the employers do not first set clear goals for the workers. By defining clear goals, work ethics can be improved since employees will have clear guidelines as to how to improve their own performances and help the company become more efficient, productive, or generally better. When an employee reaches one of the set goals, the employer can recognize that person for a job well done, giving other employees even more motivation to perform better.
Monetary rewards are, of course, good motivators as well. Raises are one way to encourage employee growth and performance, as are bonuses, though smaller rewards can go a long way as well. Gift certificates or monetary rewards for reaching goals or increasing productivity can give employees a concrete reason to work harder and more efficiently.
More than rewards, however, employees often need to feel as though they are being included as part of a team. Including an employee in a decision-making process will give him or her a sense of ownership over a project or even over the business in general, regardless of how important that decision may be. Allowing the employee to participate in his or her own evaluation and allowing that employee to help set his or her own personal and career goals will also help that person feel more invested.