To compete in the modern culture, you need creative, innovative employees. But finding and cultivating those skills are difficult.

In the wake of workplace globalization and digitization, it is non-negotiable to hire and retain individuals based on their potential and characteristics.

In fact, a report by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, OfficeTeam, and HR.com stated only 9% of HR managers would hire candidates with strong technical skills but weak soft skills.

But, hiring an employee full of ideal characteristics is a tall order for recruiters.

Why is it hard to find good employees?

Distributed hierarchies are causing a change in traditional business functions and policies. And the only way to outdo your competitors, give exceptional customer service, and stay profitable is to foster a culture of innovation, experimentation, and creativity.

To enable this culture, however, you need good employees who are engaged and feel passionate about their work and employer.

But many hiring processes, including the ones deployed through online tools, do not prioritize cultivating characteristics of employees (a necessary step to end with good employees). Enterprises are guilty of ignoring their staff too, demotivating hidden talents in the process.

Finding personality traits — or even triggers to nurture the said traits — takes time.

You need to decide the qualities of a good employee that complement your business growth. Then adapt your hiring system, employee experience, and organizational mindset and structures to attract and keep the right talent.

While you are figuring it out, your employees may get bored and leave for better opportunities with:

  • Seamless work experience
  • Better employee engagement
  • Flexibility
  • A responsive, inclusive culture

The first step, to avoid such shortcomings, is to know which characteristics can empower your business success.

The Top 9 Qualities Of Great Workers

With the combination of the right qualities, you can create a healthy work ecosystem that responds to and evolves with employees.

Here are nine qualities a good employee will exhibit:

1. Perseverance

This trait highlights an employee’s drive and willingness to resolve challenges regardless of the time and effort. Strong perseverance leads to better learning ability and agility, especially while working in fast-paced work environments.

To engender a culture where perseverance thrives, you can start by celebrating big and small wins, acknowledging proactive thinking, and promoting problem-solving and collaboration.

2. Confidence

Confident workers do not shy away from expressing their opinions, having difficult discussions, taking action when necessary, or addressing anxieties of team members.

Whether the candidate displays confidence based on their prior experience, openness to embrace the unknown, or self-surety, it is a must trait with 46% of recruiters identifying it as a top skill.

3. Courage

Courage pushes employees to face uncertainties and keep moving forward to adopt new skills needed to master their work responsibilities and personal growth without giving in to the disadvantages.

As digital workplaces introduce more organizational fluidity and diversity, dealing with uncertainties is bound to be commonplace.

A few ways you can help cultivate courageous employees are:

  • Promoting open and frequent communication

  • Asking for feedback

  • Practicing active listening

4. Emotional Intelligence

Emotionally adept employees make a conscious effort to understand, consider, and empathize with the views, actions, and decisions of their colleagues. This, in turn, breaks down silos and improves interpersonal relationships, team collaboration, and business performance. Research has shown that 71% of employers agreed emotional intelligence (EQ) was more valuable than IQ.

Empathy, another vital quality of a good employee, is a part of EQ and deserves similar attention. Why? 91% of CEOs consider empathy is linked to financial performance, with 85% of HR executives agreeing.

5. Curiosity

Workers who have innate or nurtured curiosity always question status-quo, experiment, seek new experiences, and push the boundaries to obtain greater insights and become well-versed in their field as they keep up with the ever-evolving work economy.

Enterprises are, unfortunately, yet to make it easy for their staff to develop or sustain curiosity. Almost 60% of employees say they face challenges even while asking more questions to their supervisors.

6. Integrity

An employee who does what she says and stays true to her intentions makes it easy for others to work with her. When teams are built around people of integrity, the members experience stability and pride in their work, leading to efficient, productive work, better risk management, and fewer mistakes.

7. Ambition

Good employees are ambitious and do not wait around to make things happen. They take responsibility to openly give suggestions on improving current systems, organize team-building events, help other departments, try to uncover customer pain points.

8. Positivity

Positive attitude leads to positive, productive outcomes. A good employee who smiles, shows enthusiasm, and takes encouraging actions spreads positivity that creates a better work environment for everyone.

To emphasize, 72% of hiring professionals in a survey stated positive attitude benefits individuals as well as their team members.

9. Creativity

In this age of evolving enterprises, creativity is not about thinking of unconventional ideas but applying them — using a combination of tools and resources — to achieve business results faster, engender new possibilities, and constantly break work constraints.

In an IBM study, around 60% of CEOs cited creativity is the most important leadership quality, even ranking it above integrity and global thinking.

Many recruiters (and employers alike) have known the value of leveraging employee characteristics. But, the growing adoption of digital infrastructures is now forcing recruiters to redefine — and upgrade — which qualities will stand the test of rapid innovation and disruptions.

Not to mention, the “working anywhere, anytime” trend is adding fuel to the fire.

In such a volatile landscape, which characteristics — excluding the ones mentioned above — will help you build a healthy future of work?

Conquering The Digital Workplace

What is a digital workplace anyway?

It is an ecosystem that connects people, technology, and systems and promotes collective use of enterprise interfaces for every employee.

Depending on your company size, industry, and goals, you may be expected to:

  • Hire employees around the globe

  • Offer flexible positions

  • Set up sophisticated feedback loops

These requirements — which may have been a headache a decade ago — are now easy to execute and replicate, thanks to the explosion of as-a-service and cloud-based technology.

This penetration of modern tools has, in turn, made soft skills instrumental in hiring and retaining good employees, highlighting some essential qualities recruiters need to consider.

What Are The Traits Most Valued In A Digital Workplace?

1. Autonomy

As distributed teams become commonplace, employees who are capable and confident to execute their job with as little supervision will not only make their manager’s job easy but increase productive output as well.

Autonomy gives good employees a structure to decide their work schedules and tackle tasks that complement their strengths.

A University of Birmingham study of over 20,000 workers established a direct link between autonomy and a higher sense of job satisfaction and well-being.

2. Better communication

Good workers communicate their opinions, ideas, and solutions in a way that everyone can understand. This trait is indispensable, especially for the digital age wherein teams work with instant feedback and project-driven models.

Research also agrees: 56% of recruiters look for indicators of effective messaging in candidates.

3. Flexibility

A good worker displays agility and adaptability when faced with the unknown. She will embrace and adopt new skills, as and when her work responsibilities call for such an effort.

Given that workforces are going toward distributed, horizontal infrastructures, flexible employees are quickly becoming a corporate favorite with 51% of respondents choosing the trait.

4. Teamwork

75% of employers cited teamwork is “very important”. Teams foster a conducive environment for employees to ask for help and fill each other’s skill gaps while giving individual talents a chance to shine.

Plus, employees learn the subtleties of social cues that go beyond geography, ethnicity, and even age.

5. Hardworking

Employees who show the willingness to stretch their time and effort, when required, can be categorized as hard workers. With 73% of recruiters expecting to see applicants demonstrate a capacity to work hard, this characteristic proves useful to not only establish but scale modern teams, spread across borders and digital tools.

Using available technology and resources to discover, nurture, and sponsor the ideal qualities in your employees gives your brand a competitive edge. As a result, you get to establish an employee-centric workplace that puts employee experience just as high as customer experience.

Moreover, this kind of workplace enables employees to be independent, creative, and fast-thinking to use tools to maximum potential and execute innovative strategies with little guidance.

But although recruiters are increasingly rethinking their interview, hiring, and onboarding processes to pinpoint specific qualities or relevant triggers, there is still one area they are overlooking — identifying high-potential talent amid the existing staff.

How To Mobilize Hidden Gems In Your Organization

There are many reasons you may neglect hidden talent present in non-leadership roles, such as:

  • The notion that the best performing employees will naturally make their way to the top

  • The prevalent culture that only the top leadership and management knows what a good employee looks and behaves like

  • Managers’ subconscious bias against employees who, although exceptional workers, do not match his or her thinking or behavior

  • A narrow top-down perspective on employee empowerment

There are other possibilities as well. For example, an employee with potential may not follow the typical promotion path, she may feel reluctant amongst forceful team members, get overshadowed working in a large organization, or her obligations may obstruct her passion to excel at the job.

Not all employees with potential are out-spoken, extroverted, or confident. LinkedIn’s Quiet Ambassadors program is a good example. The program specifically looked out for introverted leaders who did not fit the typical high-performer profile.

Whatever your reasons may be, no company can keep up with the tides of tech-driven innovation and relevance with disengaged, mediocre employees.

You see, inspired employees are good employees. And it is never too late to start nurturing their characteristics and help them realize their potential and goals.

Below are some tactics you can use to kickstart this process sooner.

  • Conduct intentional scans to find promising individuals who are not on your list of “future superstars”

  • Turn a “good job!” into an in-depth interview to praise the employee and understand how he succeeded

  • Analyze his thought-process. This way, you get a detailed look at what drove the employee's actions to achieve the results

  • Discuss the employee’s dreams and goals to find which projects may complement her strengths

  • Build a comprehensive talent identification process to spot good employees early on

  • Give awards for unorthodox performance (inspired collaboration, problem-solving feats, creative thinking, etc.)

Conclusion: Shape Mindsets & Systems

Hiring and retaining processes are now becoming employee-driven. If your company is not agile enough to acknowledge and optimize the qualities of good workers, then you will find it difficult to ascertain what success looks like.

So, start reshaping your mindset and systems to celebrate employee characteristics and their place in your organization.

  • Which qualities do you believe define a good employee?

  • How do you plan to enable your team and employer to nurture the traits mentioned above?

  • Which systems and tools will you redevelop in the process?