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Work attitude is the key to job success. Just ask anyone – employers, trainers, researchers and employees alike will, without hesitation, agree.

E.A.S.I-Consult® has long supported the well-known adage that smart employers “hire for attitude and train for skills.” But how do you define “attitude”? And how does attitude make someone a “good fit” for a job and an organization?

Often, the term “work ethic” is used interchangeably with work attitude. In a January 2017 report by Becky Vaugh-Furlow, a columnist for Clarion Ledger (USA Today Network participant), work ethic was reported to be the top attribute desired by employees. In her article, Vaugh-Furlow clarifies what is meant by work ethic. She includes traits or factors, such as: reliability/dependability, goal orientation/productivity, cooperation/teamwork, emphasis on quality, and adaptability/flexibility.

E.A.S.I-Consult has been assessing work attitude for over 15 years. Based on our years of research, we offer measures of work attitude in our pre-employment assessment tools that can be very specific.

However, our core measures line up with the five factors offered by Vaugh-Furlow.

E.A.S.I-Consult’s Core Work Attitude Measures

  • Dependability– can be counted on to take the initiative – to do what it takes to get the job done
  • Productivity Drive– takes the initiative to reach and exceed production levels
  • Team Orientation– builds positive working relations with others to achieve work goals
  • Quality Initiative– shows exceptional effort to maintain and improve quality
  • Adaptability– can easily adjust to work demands and changing priorities

Kimberly Leonard helps move us further along in our understanding of work attitude/work ethic in her June 2018 article published by Small Business Chronicle.

Leonard lists five factors that demonstrate strong work ethic: professionalism – showing up to work on time and working consistently throughout the day; productivity – being organized and completing tasks by the end of the day; teamwork and cooperation – understanding you are part of a bigger team and helping others; high-quality work – providing work that goes above and beyond what is required; and determination to succeed – working the problem until it is resolved.

While Leonard uses slightly different labels, her five attitude “factors” also overlap up with our five core work attitude measures:

Again, our core work attitude measures line up closely with Leonard’s five factors of work attitude/work ethics and Vaugh-Furlow’s explanation of work ethic – “the top attribute desired by employers.”

Beyond the Definition

So, what now? Let’s go back to the beginning.

Everyone agrees that work attitude is the key ingredient to job success. Ideally, all your workers should have the “right” attitude toward the work you’ve assigned them… but not all of them do! And they won’t if you don’t screen them before you hire them. Through our customers, E.A.S.I-Consult has learned the importance of screening candidates for this.

We began when a nationwide retail organization asked for help because many of their customer-facing employees were underperforming in terms of customer service and sales. It wasn’t due to a lack of skills; rather, it was all about their attitude toward responsibilities. To help them, we studied the requirements of the jobs, the culture of the organization, and the types of bad behaviors they were trying to eliminate. We then designed a pre-employment test to screen in candidates with the “right” work attitude. In a trial run, we assessed a substantial number of candidates and tracked their job performance. The retail organization reported that higher-scoring candidates demonstrated stronger sales initiative, followed supervisor instructions more often, and provided better customer service!

Yes, You Can!

We’ve spent 15 years on test development and test validation research – an important step if you want to be prepared for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Office of Federal Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and satisfy EEO laws.  We’ve learned that employers can safely and accurately measure a variety of work attitude dimensions beyond the 5 core measures discussed above. A few of these are included in the table below.

This article has focused on the impact that work attitude has on job success. We recognize that work skills are also important. We subscribe to the belief that after you’ve found a candidate/employee with the right work attitude, you should then focus on the work skills needed for the job. Remember to “hire for attitude and train for skills.”

And, yes, you can measure work attitude before you hire your work team!

David Smith, PhD, is the president and CEO of E·A·S·I-Consult®. E·A·S·I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government  agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E·A·S·I-Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E·A·S·I-Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.comor call 800.922.EASI.