Work Habits that Sustain Competitive Advantage
May 14, 2007

"The only unique asset that business has for gaining a sustained competitive advantage over rivals is its workforce-the skills and dedication of its employees. There is no other sustainable competitive advantage in the modern, high-tech, global economy," said Robert B. Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and now professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Managing Labor in Tough Times

The workforce is changing, and depending on what sector your business is in or what part of the country it is located in, you may be feeling the pinch of the growing labor shortage. Recent research from the Boston College Center on Aging and Work indicates what some companies are doing and that is: intensifying recruitment and reorganizing work flow so that they stay productive with fewer people. In these tougher labor times, organizations will also need to address poor work habits of their current employees to increase retention and to improve quality of service and productivity.

Getting Control of the Workforce

One of the greatest challenges for your supervisors is in knowing how to deal effectively with employees who have less than desirable work habits. There is even more pressure if the organization is going through change, and you are doing more with fewer people. Typical issues such as absenteeism, language issues, and dress and grooming habits can lead to poor morale for the entire team and become a real management issue.

Do these managers sound familiar to you? Sheila stays away from dealing with issues such as grooming because they seem too personal in nature. Jeff treats negative behavior with negative behavior himself. Rob believes there are just too many larger issues to tackle.

Do You Think This Isn't Happening in Your Organization?

Most likely it is. More than you probably know. A chip here, a chip there and the volume of poor work habits adds up in terms of lost time and money to the organization and the ability to retain employees. But, these issues can be dealt with through appropriate communication so that employee self-esteem can be maintained.

Reich points out in a talent management article that on-the-job-training and on-the-job skills development can help retain your workforce. Your supervisors, managers and team leaders may not already have the skills they need to help their employees improve their work habits.

Keys to Sustaining Competitive Advantage

One of the keys you need in sustaining a competitive advantage is certainly training. Improving Work Habits is a training program for your supervisors to help them clearly and specifically communicate the nature of employee work problems and develop an individual plan for addressing the issue. The program enables managers to:

  • Recognize the difference between job performance and work habits and the skills it takes to bring the situation to a successful resolution.
  • Understand that unsatisfactory work habits must be dealt with quickly and effectively before they require disciplinary action.
  • Explain clearly and specifically the nature of the issues with work habits by focusing on behaviors rather than attitude.
  • Use an action plan and ongoing reviews to help team members improve work habits and demonstrate personal accountability.

Corexcel can help you implement a solution that is right for your organization. The online version makes it easy to deliver the program in a blended format, saving you time off the job, but yet it trains and reinforces the skills needed to tackle poor employee work habits.

Quote for the Week

"Training is the vehicle by which a philosophy of people potential is transformed into fact." - Cloyd S. Steinmetz


Firms called unprepared for worker shortages. The Boston Globe. Accessed: April 4, 2007.

T & D 60th Anniversary. T & D Magazine (September 2006).

Talent Management. T & D Magazine (September 2006).

Vital Learning Corporation (2007). Improving Work Habits.

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