20 Qualities of a Good Employee (and Why They Matter)

What to look for in new hires…

Joanna Zambas
Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Qualities of a Good Employee

Ask any hiring manager, and you’ll discover that good employees are hard to find. They either lack certain traits or simply don’t fit in with the existing company culture, making the entire recruitment process 10 times harder.

And HR managers and employers often tend to focus on skill sets alone, and they overlook the important qualities that make the ideal worker, resulting in bad hires and a tiresome training period.

While every employee is different and brings a mixture of talents and traits to the table, there are some common qualities that you need to look out for. Here are 20 key qualities of a good employee!

1. Culturally fit

A good candidate is someone who possesses the right skills and experience for the job and who also has the personality and ability to blend in with your team. If you can see yourself working well with this individual on a daily basis, then you’re most likely onto a winner.

A culturally fit employee:

  • Will make an excellent team player
  • Shares your company values and vision
  • Is likelier to be retained

2. Positive

A positive and optimistic employee is arguably the best kind to have. They never moan at menial tasks, they accept constructive criticism with a smile on their face (and we mean a genuine one), and they generally float about like a breath of fresh air. Their happy behaviour becomes contagious, drowning out any Negative Nellys in the background.

Hiring people with a positive attitude is worth it, as they:

  • Tend to be more resilient
  • Spend more energy on devising solutions
  • Have a positive effect on their teammates

3. Honest

Honest workers are not only highly valued but they’re also well-respected. They are the people that call to let you know that they didn’t hear their alarm and are running late, and they admit to making a mistake on a project. They remain transparent at all times and can be relied on in times of need.

Employees who stand out for their honesty:

  • Are dependable
  • Inspire trust in others
  • Respect their work and teammates

4. Meticulous

No matter what industry you’re in, attention to detail is a crucial part of any job. And those detail-oriented employees that take pride in their work usually also take pride in the documents that they produce, placing a lot of consideration in their daily tasks.

Someone who works meticulously:

  • Produces consistently high-quality work
  • Preserves your company image
  • Is truly dedicated to their craft

Read also: How to Hire the Best Candidate

5. Presentable

A good employee isn’t simply judged on the way they look or what they wear; however, their marketability does play a role in the overall package. As a member of the team, the way an employee presents themselves attributes to the company’s overall image, meaning that a good candidate should carry themselves in a respectable manner.

Employees who “look the part”:

  • Show respect for the company and its dress code
  • Maintain good hygiene, which benefits their team
  • Present a consistent professional image

6. Passionate

Every manager loves an employee who is ambitious and willing to take on any task — no matter how difficult it is. They will naturally work hard on every project and show enthusiasm in everything that they do.

Passionate employees:

  • Take their jobs seriously
  • Are willing to take initiative
  • Tend to be self-motivated

7. Reliable

Someone who’s able to follow instructions and work towards deadlines is an efficient and reliable employee. They can be trusted to get on with their work without being micromanaged or chased after, making the whole working process that much easier.

Reliable people on your team:

  • Can be counted upon for any task
  • Work methodically, minimizing stress for everyone
  • Can inspire others with their strong work ethic

8. Leader

A key sign of a great employee is clear leadership qualities. Without being asked, you will notice that some team members take on the role of a mother hen, guiding newbies and offering a helping hand went deadlines get tough. They have the ability to be a successful leader and are keen on moving up within the organisation.

Those with leadership skills can:

  • Motivate and inspire the rest of the team
  • Work autonomously
  • Hold themselves accountable

9. Adaptable

Exceptional staff members are able to move from task to task with ease. They also have the emotional intelligence to adjust to situations and settings, changing their reactions and behaviour to cater to the people they are surrounded by. For example, when dealing with a hot-headed colleague, they know how to address them without pushing any buttons.

You should look for adaptable individuals because they:

  • Tend to be great problem solvers
  • Panic less when a problem occurs
  • Have confidence in their ability

10. Goal-oriented

Candidates that set themselves goals or like to work towards targets are high achievers and dedicated workers. They like to aspire to learn and complete more, essentially working harder around the clock, unlike regular workers who do the bare minimum and watch the clock until it’s time to go home.

A goal-oriented employee:

11. Communicator

Model employees will understand the importance of good communication in the workplace and know that when done incorrectly, a simple misunderstanding can lead to a huge problem down the line.

They speak clearly and clarify what they mean, leaving no room for error. They also have the ability to listen to what others are saying and digest the information before responding, showing that they have clearly thought about what they’ve just heard.

Good communicators are essential to any team, as they:

  • Can keep misunderstandings to a minimum
  • Give clear instructions and feedback, which saves time
  • Are mindful of cultural differences

12. Diplomatic

Having the ability to mediate between different situations isn’t easy — in fact, it can often be challenging to push your personal opinion aside within the workplace. However, a satisfactory employee will be able to diffuse heated situations, be empathetic towards their colleagues and consider other people’s perspectives.

A diplomatic employee can help your organization by:

  • Preventing or resolving conflicts
  • Delivering feedback in a respectful, mindful way
  • Liaising effectively with people from various backgrounds

Read also: Interviewing Techniques for Employers

13. Confident

Self-confidence also makes for a strong and successful employee. If the candidate believes in their own skills and abilities, then the hiring manager is more likely to be convinced, too.

This type of employee tends to be hard-working and driven, and knows that they can strive for excellence. Instead of wasting their time doubting insignificant matters, they simply get on with the task at hand.

You’ll want confident team players, as they:

  • Are likelier to voice their ideas and true opinions
  • Can hold themselves accountable
  • Are receptive to feedback, eager to improve

14. Friendly and energetic

Not all coworkers are the same, and not every employee will be upbeat and energetic. But what they should all have in common is compassion and approachability. They should be able to speak in a way that makes those around them feel comfortable, regardless of their role or job title.

An approachable employee with an upbeat attitude:

  • Has a “contagious” outlook that can spread to others
  • Is a delight to work with
  • Eagerly provides support, boosting team morale and efficiency

15. Humble

Great employees shout about their value through their work, rather than words. They don’t brag about what they have or haven’t done, nor do they try to throw coworkers under the bus. Instead, they focus on their achievements and hope that their efforts will shine naturally. (This does wonders in maintaining a healthy work environment!)

Employees who are down to earth:

  • Can be confident without being arrogant
  • Make it easier for others to collaborate with them
  • Are more receptive to feedback

16. Successful

It’s difficult to judge a candidate’s success if they’re just starting out in their career. But if someone has great work experience that shows their progression throughout the years, then it’s one of the easiest ways to identify a good worker.

When you hire employees who have had successful careers, they:

  • Make for a real asset to your company against your competitors
  • Have the experience to make sound judgment calls
  • Are likelier to pull through when met with a challenge

17. Independent

If you’re able to delegate a job to an employee and can trust that they will get the job done, then you know you’re dealing with a great team member. If, on the other hand, you happen to be hand-holding certain people, you may need to address the issue to make the employee work independently.

An independent employee:

  • Requires little “hand-holding” on your part
  • Is not afraid to take initiative
  • Typically has great time management and organizational skills

18. Intelligent

It’s true that most skills can be taught, but intelligence is the foundation for success. If you hire a smart candidate, they will be more adaptable and eager to learn, with the ability to absorb information quickly and apply it within their work.

Intelligent individuals on your team:

  • Come up with fresh ideas and creative solutions to problems
  • Create original products, services or content
  • Find smart ways to work, saving time

19. Proactive

A good employee will go above and beyond their normal duties without thinking twice or complaining about it. They will find solutions to problems before even mentioning them and will be happy to get on with anything that is thrown their way.

Someone who can demonstrate proactivity will:

  • Improve processes by foreseeing and preventing problems
  • Work in a disciplined manner
  • Frequently voice ideas and suggestions

20. Disciplined

Having the ability to discipline yourself and work hard is tricky, especially when you’re placed in an office with a number of distractions, from office gossip to workplace pranks. A valued employee, though, knows when to have a natter and when to block out distractions and get stuck into their work.

Disciplined employees on your team will:

  • Concentrate better, completing tasks faster
  • Care about meeting deadlines and achieving goals
  • Demonstrate leadership qualities that motivate others

Read also: Top Recruitment Strategies

Final thoughts

It goes without saying that no two employees are the same, but if you can identify a handful of these characteristics in them, then you may be onto a keeper.

What does you HR department look for in potential hires? Join the conversation below and let us know what traits you consider the most important.

This article is a partial update of an earlier version originally published on August 10, 2018.