8 Habits Found in Valuable Employees

Getting hired is just the first step. If you want to keep a great job, learn about these good work habits that will thrill employers.

portrait of Jenna Glatzer
by Jenna Glatzer

Published April 26, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
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8 Habits Found in Valuable Employees
Feature Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images


Getting a great job is just the beginning. Keeping it and moving up is what pays your bills and allows your career to flourish. According to a 3-year study of hiring managers by research and training firm Leadership IQ, 46% of new hires fail within 18 months of starting a job. So what is it that separates those who succeed from those who don't?

It's not just about your resume, references, or even your previous training or skills. When talking about what makes someone a good employee, hiring managers advise employees to practice eight habits.

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Communicate Openly

Even if you're not pursuing a communications career, you need to understand communications skills. No matter what sector you're in, how you approach and speak with your colleagues and managers has a strong impact.

When it doubt, keep things positive and productive; resist the urge to join in on gossip or criticism. Don't let work issues simmer until you can't stand it; if you feel your workload is unmanageable, you're having trouble with a colleague, or you need more time to finish something, address it as early as possible.

After coming up with a plan, you can send a note to make sure your team is on the same page: "Thanks for meeting with me. Going forward, I understand that we're doing to do X, Y, and Z. Is that right?"

Be Punctual

Adhering to deadlines and arriving to work and meetings on time can go a long way to showing employers that you take your job seriously.

Regularly being late to work is unprofessional and may hurt your chances of earning raises and promotions. Give yourself ample time to allow for traffic (in the case of in-person work) or computer connection issues (in the case of Zoom meetings).

If you know you struggle to get out the door on time, try setting your clock a few minutes later than the true time.

Respond Well to Feedback

Understand that without honest feedback most of us wouldn't get very far. In most cases, when an employer offers some form of constructive criticism, it's meant to help you improve, not hurt your feelings.

Feedback is necessary to help you can succeed and move up in the company. Do your best to respond respectfully, ask for clarification or training when needed, and take suggestions seriously.

Being "trainable" is a valuable skill. There are often advances in a field and changes to protocol that require good employees to adapt and learn.

Take Initiative

You can become a valuable employee by figuring out what the business needs and then offering to take action. That might mean learning new software that can help workers get a task done more efficiently. Or, you might reach out to another department to figure out how to solve a problem together.

Volunteer for assignments that push you to learn new skills and interact with people you don't normally work with.

Employers love when an employee is motivated and wants to grow with the company. It's even better when they don't need to give step-by-step instructions for every move.

Be Collaborative

Simple friendliness goes a long way — make it a work habit to act in ways that are collaborative instead of competitive. Learn people's names and what they do. Worry less about personal credit and more about uplifting everyone on the team. Making others look good also makes you look good.

Seek out other people's opinions and ideas on projects, and speak up when you can offer someone else help. Ask colleagues what their goals are, and share your own goals.

Fit the Tone of the Company

Once upon a time, the advice here would have been, "Make sure you're always using proper grammar and spelling in every email you send! Use titles when addressing superiors at work." But that's not always the correct advice anymore.

Rather than assuming you should be formal, match the tone your employer sets. Some companies maintain a relaxed, informal work culture — text-speak, emojis, and sandals are all fine. Other organizations are more formal.

Make it a point of becoming aware of your surroundings; you don't want to be seen as unprofessional if you're overly casual in a professional environment or too formal in a more laid-back office setting.

Raise Your Hand

There are often little jobs or tasks that aren't exactly in anyone's job description. Small tasks that bolster team morale may include picking up a card for everyone to sign for someone's retirement, making a lunch reservation, or calling around to get pricing on something.

When you see an opportunity to be helpful, it's a good work habit to take it. It's often assumed that a manager or assistant is going to handle these types of tasks, but when you offer to take responsibility for those small extras, you can make a great impression.

Represent Your Employer Well

Even outside of work, the things you do that draw attention will often come back to your employer — and that can be positive or negative. Many people have found themselves without a job after doing something terrible that got caught on camera and posted on social media.

But on the other hand, there are people who go out of their way to be good humans, and employers love it when they find out that their employee volunteered for a charity event, won an award, or even saved a life. When you find ways to mention your employer in a positive way, it reflects well on you.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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