Written by EMEKA ONONAMADU. Posted in Resources

Whatever is not worth dying for is not worth living for Muta Baroka.

You have control of your action but not its consequences — Anonymous

If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.  — Malcolm X 


A good work ethic is what most employers look highly in employees. Work ethics is defined from the perspective of working hard in the willingness to put the organization first. Therefore honesty and working well with other coworkers are considered to be good work ethics as well. In Nigeria, particularly in public or government service, lack of honesty or integrity has been responsible for the high corruption level and the current low level of development.  Having a good work ethic can help to advance nations and individuals . 


According to Encarta English dictionary, Ethic is a system of moral standards or principles. So ethic is a combination of different acceptable standard practices or principles. It is also the combination of acceptable basic etiquettes in an operating environment.  Etiquette is simply the rules and conventions governing correct or polite behavior acceptable in a particular place, group or country. It is also a social skill that can be learnt.

Work ethics include not only how one feels about their job, career or vocation, but also how one does his/her job or responsibilities. This involves attitude, behavior, respect, communication, and interaction; how one gets along with others. Work ethics demonstrate many things about whom and how a person is. 

Work ethics, such as honesty (not lying, cheating, and stealing), doing a job well, valuing what one does, having a sense of purpose and feeling/being a part of a greater vision or plan is vital. Philosophically, if one does not have proper work ethics, a person’s conscience may be bothered. 


When we talk about morals, we are referring to what is right and just as opposed to what is official or what is outwardly declared to be right or just. Moral is required to develop or practice a good work ethics. It also helps to build your courage and conscience. 


·         Your coworkers pick up on it and they will respond to your mood and if it is positive or negatives it determines the overall individual and team output.

·         You can really impress the ones you work with and your superiors if you can have a good attitude, be on time and lead by example. Most employers are looking for that employee that stands out among the rest and having a good ethic will get you on the right path to success.

·         It is easy to spot the employees that have bad work ethics because they are the ones that are usually trying to get out of working. They always want everyone to cater for them and they usually do not have the organizations best interest in mind.

·         Having a good ethic is having a good attitude and finishing your work on time. People like to be around someone who is positive and in turn helping them have a better working environment.

·         The organization will always need you more than you need it. Because the organization wants to succeed, an employee with good work ethics is an asset that the organization will find difficult to dispose.

·         The employee generates brighter future either in the organization of outside the organization. An employee with good work ethics does not stay unemployed.

·         The job becomes a pleasure. Since an employee is going to be at work for at least eight hours a day, a good work ethics he/she enjoys team members.


Most people who have good work ethic start young and learn what the value of hard work is. Major tips to boast your work ethics include:

  • Dress Properly: If an employee is always well dressed, he /she receive admiration. Dressing well means dressing professionally and appropriately as required for your specific position or organization while looking well groomed all the time. Ensure also that your body language does not suggest a negative conclusion.
  • Be punctual at work: Try your best to be punctual and if possible to be at office first before others.  It can be complimented with staying late as normally the bosses too get in early and stay late. For women or those who live far away from their place of work, it is important make necessary preparation in case emergencies occur which can keep one late in office.
  • Make your presence felt: Do not be evasive or aloof. Be visible at work and consciously productive. You should be reached when your colleagues or boss needs you. Don’t just keep an act of working; inculcate the habit of working instead. If you expect others to treat you with respect you need to treat them well too. Make a habit of greeting others or exchanging pleasantries with those around you. Also be helpful and supportive to the new employees joining the Organization. Also try making friends with people in the other departments also and showing respect to those below you. Do not keep malice in work place as it will affect your output.
  • Communication: It is important that your body language and conversation should reflect a confident you. Speak concisely and clearly. Learn to be assertive. People would not take you seriously if you act or talk like a gawky school girl/boy or someone who is unsure or frightened.
  • Be reliable at work: Never postpone the work to be done. Complete every task you need to do beforehand which would create the impression of reliability. Also be willing to take up new responsibilities at work and meet your deadlines in time. It is better to under promise and over deliver on a consistent basis to be seen as a prudent staff. Let your boss know that he can count on you. Be an expert in your field of work and brand yourself as invaluable to your organization. Reliable employees are always taken care of when it comes to handing out raises and promotions.
  • Stand for what is right and just: Avoid corruption and fight it – fraud, waste and abuse. Do not compromise them in any circumstance, directly or indirectly. Ensure that lying, cheating and stealing are not part of you or your work. Most public servants find it hard to stand up to what is right that is why they collude with politicians to defraud the nation. Is it not sad to read that Nigeria is standing at 143 in the corruption perception index?
  • Understand appropriate policies and laws: Every organization has its policies and vision. Better knowledge of them will enable appropriate decision, actions and reactions. It will guide you on broad processes, procedure, rules regulations and their applications.
  • Be a leader than a follower: Many occasions happen when you work in an organization like Birthday Parties, Farewell Parties, Promotions, and weddings of colleagues which needs things to be organized. Try taking up the responsibility or organizing them and do a good job at it. Also you can contribute to the Organizations Newsletters and get your name out through them. If you have an idea which is beneficial for the Company go ahead and share it with your Boss. Make your Boss know that you appreciate him for the support given by him.
  • Stay updated: Read industry related publications, reports and magazines and be aware of market trends. Also keep track of what is happening in the Organization and be open to learn new technologies
  • Be Positive all the time: Applying the principles of positive enquiry is very helpful. If you see your team members from their positive sides instead of their negative sides, it will help you to build better working relationship which will aid your output.
  • Be Transparent and accountable. The presence of transparency, honesty and accountability ensure that you are trusted, and in the future with key positions.
  • Learn from your mistakes:   Focus on making a carrier. Let every error or mistake is a teacher to you. Do not worry over making them (so long as they are not out of stupidity) but worry over repeating them.
  • Keep a record of your achievements: Keep a private diary of your monthly achievements for the organization. Constantly check if it corresponds with your target or the target the organization gave you. Also note how many times you have erred and why and try to avoid future occurrence. Work on correcting your undesirable habits and improving your positive skills.
  • Finally, respect and protect the rights of all staff: As you will like your rights to be protected, protect the rights of others particularly the endangered groups eg. Women, differently able and lower level staff.


When you apply all these, you would have immensely contributed to the redefinition of Nigerian factor which has been battered the demonic image of corruption in work places. A Nigeria where people are paid without working, where people ask for kickback and bribes for being paid and the consequence has been poor economy and unimaginable unemployment rate. 


·         Identify the standard on which you base work ethics. This may be what some view as a holy book, such as the Bible, the Koran or your deity. You may need to research and compare in order to discover which standard of morality you believe is most reliable and accurate to drive your work ethics.

·         Read the laws and standards regarding morality from the source that you chose.

·         Compare specific behaviors to the standards in the authoritative source.

·          Decide whether a thought or action is moral based on the standard to which you adhere. 


After one’s health, it’s said that the most important thing you have is your integrity, because once it’s gone — it’s gone. Along with the awful feeling of not wanting to look at yourself in the mirror, word spreads, & you might find yourself very unpopular all of a sudden.

So, what is the role of integrity?

·         Certainly, it’s about behaving in a way that you are proud of. It means that your morals are intact & that you don’t bend them on a whim.

·         Employees who don’t act with integrity might do things they abhor for cash, say one thing & do another, or lie to their boss for a quick buck. The core of it really comes from employees acting selfishly, as well as only thinking about the present & not considering the future repercussions……………

·         It’s all too easy to get swept away in a tidal wave of excitement & then realize, ‘I shouldn’t have done that’.

The world is rife with opportunity for us to sell out, compromise our values & buy into someone else’s shady agenda. That’s why it helps to think about the big picture. So if someone offers you something, don’t just say yes because it flatters your ego — think about the likely chain of events afterwards. Sometimes the best thing to do is just not get involved, which can be hard. It’s important to learn how to say no. So, how do we work out where we draw the line? I think a good rule of thumb, though a little terrifying to think about at first, is never do anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper or query files of your supervisor. It’s a pretty good way of gauging your work ethics.

Do not forget to do good wherever you are. A single act of goodness from one person can transform Nigeria and Nigerians.


Thank you


Useful Notes:

Our beliefs — what we can call a “moral compass” — come from a combination of places. A lot of what we perceive to be right or wrong comes from what we’ve seen our parents or family do. This is the reason why corruption is entrenched in Nigeria particularly among the ruling class. After all, our family is our first example of what the world is like. Some conclusions we come to on our own, & we are also influenced by the society we live in as to what we think is okay & what isn’t. It’s all very subjective, which is why people on the other side of the planet sometimes seem to behave in a way that seems offensive or just plain bizarre. There is no definitive answer. What is right & what is wrong? Only you can answer that for yourself.

So, having said this, & knowing how different people’s morals can be, I can understand that your friends might be finding it difficult to cope with what they might perceive as a sudden major shift in your personality & lifestyle. It’s said that the people around us impact us so much that our life becomes an average of the lives of the five people closest to us, & if all your friends are vegan, dumpster-diving anarchists, it makes sense that they would be surprised by your new direction.

You didn’t really write anything about your own beliefs, other than you feel like what you’re doing at your job gels with you, ethically, & that you do some volunteer work, so I’m assuming that your political stand-point isn’t something you’ve given heaps of thought to in the past. You probably have an innate sense of what’s okay & what isn’t, & you’ve followed that. But you know what? The amount of brain-power you’ve put into thinking about this doesn’t make you a better or worse person than your fellow volunteers — just different. I mean, honestly, I don’t give politics a lot of thought, because it has never really interested me. You might be the same way, & of course, that’s totally fine. I do think, though, that when it comes to morals & ethics & integrity, we all need to work out where we stand.

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” — Malcolm X

It’s all too easy to get swept away in a tidal wave of excitement & then realise, ‘I shouldn’t have done that’. It happens to people all the time. For some, it happens after a few drinks, while for others, as soon as they see a beautiful woman, anything they might have said in the past (& that ring on their finger) is all but forgotten. Those are but two examples. I don’t think anyone reading this could claim they’ve never done anything that compromised their integrity. & of course, afterwards, you have to pick up the pieces, which can be horrific for everyone involved.

When it comes to iCiNG, it can be a hard line to walk. I often feel that I’m blazing my own path, & as such, every day is a new adventure. It’s exciting, but it can be tricky! For example, I sell advertising, but I’m very picky about who I accept ads from. (You wouldn’t believe what people want to put on my site!) Often, people want to pay me or give me merchandise, thinking that I will mention their product or service & they’ll get a rush of sales. That happens on other sites, sure — some blogs these days look more like advertorial than anything else — but not here, & I think iCiNG is a better place for it. I won’t write about anything that I wouldn’t be happy to spend money on myself… & I’m a discerning customer!

The world is rife with opportunity for us to sell out, compromise our values & buy into someone else’s shady agenda. That’s why it helps to think about the big picture. So if someone offers you something, don’t just say yes because it flatters your ego — think about the likely chain of events afterwards. Sometimes the best thing to do is just not get involved, which can be hard. It’s important to learn how to say no.

I think a good guiding principle, though, is the No Assholes Rule. Crude, I know, but bear with me. What this means is that you make a decision — now — never to deal with or get involved with anyone who is an asshole. (I’m using the term “asshole” as a blanket term to mean anyone who is rude, callous, unprofessional, unethical, vile, disrespectful, etc. You can mix & match terms as you like!) Basically, the less assholes you deal with, the less chance there is that you’ll be tempted to compromise your ethics. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether someone is cool or not, but trust me when I say that the more you listen to your intuition (your “gut”), the better your asshole radar will become. If your intuition is singing out “No, no, no!”, listen! & then act! A lot of mistakes & potential ugliness can be avoided by engaging this principle.

Coming back to morals & ethics, there are so many different battles going on in the world today, and  it’s impossible to fight every one. You’d just end up bitter & exhausted. So it’s important to pick the causes that are important to you, & then do your best.

So, how do we work out where we draw the line? I think a good rule of thumb, though a little terrifying to think about at first, is never do anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper. It’s a pretty good way of gauging things, because it’s such a huge idea.

Does she really agree with what her place of employment is doing? Has she done a bit of research & looked into it further than just how friendly her team-mates are? Insurance companies are notorious for acting in an extremely unethical way — is hers different, & if so, how?

Finally, do her friend’s opinions matter more than her own? In this case, they think she’s a sell-out, blah blah — but does it actually matter? No, it doesn’t. They have their lives, & she has hers, & she can only live for herself. It’s nice to hear what your friends have to say, but their opinion is no more valuable than the milkman’s. People are always going to say inaccurate, misguided or just plain screwed up things, because we all run things through our own filters. Our personal filters are affected by all kinds of things — upbringing, past experiences, feelings about the future — & so it helps to take what people say with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, all that matters is that you think about what you’re doing, on a grand scale, & you feel good about it.

(Where do you draw the line? What causes do you support? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments as the deliberation goes on.) 


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