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15 Qualities of a Good Employee to Look For When Hiring

The success of your business often depends on the strength of your team. That is why building the right team around you is so crucial. A group of great individuals can help you innovate, create, and scale a business. But on the other hand, the wrong employees can make your work harder. They can cost the business customers and create a toxic workplace. And nobody wants that.

Good employees are hard to find, sometimes. So, if you come across a candidate, how do you know if they have the attributes you need? In this article, we will explain the 15 best qualities of a good employee.


Positive Attitude

The saying “attitude is everything” has been around for years. While attitude isn’t everything. But, it is almost everything. Especially concerning what it means to be a good employee. Employees with a positive mindset are more likely to be more engaged and productive than their co-workers. They are also more likely to be team players. 

The importance of attitude cannot be understated. When a good employee has a negative way of thinking, their attitude sometimes overshadows that employee’s workplace results. Therefore, finding an employee with a positive frame of mind and nurturing them to help them grow professionally is much better.


Strong Work Ethic

As a leader, you already understand the importance of work ethic. That is why you should also seek employees with a good work ethic. Employees with a solid work ethic are more likely to be dedicated, productive, and reliable. They are also more likely to be committed to the company’s success.

The question of which is more important, talent or work ethic, will always be debated. In Geoffrey Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated, he points out that having talent is not always a great indicator of a person’s future success. Talent is an attractive trait to look for in an employee. But, be sure that talent is backed up by a great work ethic.

During an interview, ask about their work history and the challenges they have faced in their previous positions. Then, ask them to provide specific examples of how they have shown their work ethic.


Flexibility and the Ability to Adapt

The world of business and the nature of different industries are constantly changing. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you know that these changes are inevitable. That is why you must have employees that can respond well to change. Adaptable and flexible employees are better equipped to handle change and get used to new situations. For example, say a new regulation or technological advances suddenly disrupt your industry. If this happens you want employees that can pivot and adapt to the new ways of doing business.

Employees that can adapt well are also able to adjust during economic changes. Things happen in business that is beyond our control. Having a team around you that understands and responds to those things well can help ensure your business can continue to thrive.


Communication Skills

Lack of communication in the workplace is a significant cause of conflict and low morale. It can also cause low employee engagement. While management is a major influencer in how well the workplace communicates, employees also share that responsibility. That is why it is important to have employees that correspond well.

Employees who can communicate effectively are more likely to work well with others. They are also better able to build strong relationships with colleagues, customers, and stakeholders. That is why having great communication skills is a vital trait of a good employee.

When an employee has excellent communication skills, it also helps management understand if there are any gaps between staff and leaders. Having good communication is also a great leadership trait. It means that an employee who is already a sufficient communicator would also make a fantastic future manager.



Another vital characteristic of an outstanding employee is the ability to accept coaching. Being coachable is an essential quality for any employee because it shows a willingness to learn, grow, and improve. Coachable employees are usually receptive to feedback, open to new ideas, and willing to adapt to change. They are typically more humble and self-aware and understand that they don’t have all the answers. Employees who are coachable are more open to receiving constructive criticism. They know the feedback will only help them develop in their role.

Coachable employees are also more likely to build strong relationships with their colleagues and superiors. They are seen as team players who are invested in the organization’s success and willing to do the necessary work to achieve it. Additionally, coachable employees tend to be more adaptable and resilient. This makes them better equipped to handle challenges or new situations as they arise.


Problem-Solving Skills

There is no such thing as a workday without problems. There may be minor problems, but every day has its issues. That is why having employees with strong problem-solving skills is so important. Employees who can solve problems effectively are more likely to be able to find creative solutions to challenges and improve processes and systems.

One of the reasons why being a problem solver is the quality of a great employee is because of its impact on innovation. Problem solvers can help with bringing new ideas to the company. These ideas can streamline processes, limit or lower company risks, and even increase revenue. 


Detailed Orientated

A detail-oriented employee has an eye for the small things and is committed to producing work that is error-free and of the highest quality. Being detail-oriented is an essential quality that can make a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

A detail-oriented employee can ensure critical tasks are completed correctly and on time. This quality is important for meeting deadlines and achieving organizational goals. Also, a detail-oriented employee can see potential problems or errors before they occur.  Allowing you the ability to take proactive steps to address them. This type of employee can be an asset as they will prevent breaks in customer service.

Depending on your type of business, mistakes made by staff and leaders can be costly. Even harmful to your customers if you are in a sensitive sector such as consumables. Your employees’ attention to detail can help your business become more productive and also help prevent a disaster.


Able to Work with Little Supervision

Working with little supervision is a valuable quality in an employee. This ability demonstrates a high level of self-motivation, independence, and responsibility. In addition, an employee who can work with minimum supervision is capable of handling their own workload. As a leader, you know the challenges of managing multiple employees. That is why having an employee you don’t have to worry about makes your job so much easier.

Being able to work unsupervised means the person is good at prioritizing tasks and making decisions independently. They don’t need to ask their supervisors questions that they can easily find the answers to. These go-getters don’t need supervisors checking in on them frequently, either. They take ownership of their work and hold themselves accountable for their performance.



Ambition is one of those rare traits that cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t. That is why an employee with drive should seriously be considered to become a part of your team. Ambitious employees are also highly resilient and adaptable. They are not deterred by setbacks or obstacles. And can overcome challenges and learn from their experiences. This adaptability allows them to take on new and difficult tasks with confidence. That confidence contributes to the overall success of the organization.

By being ambitious, an employee can be an inspiration to others. This can motivate others to work towards achieving their own goals. They lead by example and show that success is possible through hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

Finally, ambitious employees are often self-starters. They take the initiative in identifying areas where they can make a difference. They are proactive in seeking new opportunities and taking on leadership roles, making them highly valuable assets to the business.



Honesty is not just a great trait found in successful employees but also a valuable human trait. An employee that is truthful helps builds trust within the business. An honest employee communicates transparently. They also take responsibility for their mistakes. This maintains a high level of integrity in all interactions.

Honesty also helps establish clear expectations and prevents misunderstandings or miscommunications from occurring. Another great benefit is that straightforward employees can provide constructive feedback. It means you have a more accurate description of their feelings about their job, the business, and leadership. This can improve the quality of work and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

These employees are often highly ethical and principled. Someone like that on the team contributes to a positive company culture. They are also likely to adhere to company policies and standards.  As a result, lowering the risk of unethical or illegal behavior. That can help to mitigate risk and protect the company’s reputation.


Team Player

When employees don’t get along, it can make work miserable. As children, we are taught how to play well with each other and the importance of teamwork. But for many, those lessons were forgotten by adulthood. That is why an employee who thinks of the team first is precious. Employees who work well with others are more likely to build strong relationships with colleagues. This contributes to the group’s success. They are also supportive of their colleagues in achieving their goals.

When you have an employee who is a team player, it can influence the rest of your group to adopt a “team first” mentality. This can promote more positivity in the workplace and enhance the company culture.



Trying to motivate others on your team is a never-ending pursuit for many leaders. That is why having a self-motivated employee is a luxury. Self-motivated employees are also more likely to be proactive and take ownership of their work. Motivation is also contagious. It is an attribute that can help spark motivation in the rest of the team.


Leadership Potential

Leadership potential is a valuable quality in an employee because it shows their ability to take the initiative. Employees with leadership potential are also more proactive and can communicate effectively with management and the team. As we mentioned before, communication is an invaluable trait for anyone working with a team. 

Another reason why leadership potential is a strong employee quality is because of their ability to think like a leader. It enables them to identify opportunities and take decisive action to achieve the business’s goals. When an employee can be assertive, it takes some of the work off your management’s hands. Having an employee that can think as a leader can also make it easier to find the next member of your leadership team.


Practices Professionalism

Practicing professionalism means an employee takse their work seriously. They also aconduct themselves professionally and respectfully. Professionalism can enhance your business’s reputation with customers and clients and set the tone for the rest of the team. 

Being professional also means meeting the expectations of the job consistently. It means being punctual and abiding by policies and procedures. It also means using the right tone and language while in the workplace. An employee that practices professionalism is less likely to say something inappropriate to a colleague or customer. Even as a joke. Employees that practice professionalism raise the standards of the workplace and make sure that work gets done. 


Is Dependable and Reliable 

Things like being on time, having good attendance, and meeting deadlines are important in any line of business. Reliable employees often make leaders’ lives easier. Wondering if your employee will arrive on time and complete the tasks they are given is often a worry for many business owners. In addition, dependable employees are also more likely to be able to build trust with colleagues, customers, and stakeholders.



Creativity is a highly valuable quality in an employee. Creativity enables them to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Creative employees approach tasks with a fresh perspective and bring new ideas to the table. They also challenge conventional thinking.

The challenge for you as a leader is to create an environment where creativity can flourish. Oftentimes, the workplace can unknowingly inhibit creative thinking and solutions. Therefore, before hiring an employee that thinks creatively, be sure that the position you are hiring them for can help them express that creativity.

Thomas Martin
Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He has over 6 years of experience with writing on business, entrepreneurship, and other topics. He mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and eCommerce startups.

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Entrepreneurial Lifestyle · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leading Your Team · Productivity · Your Mindset

Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He has over 6 years of experience with writing on business, entrepreneurship, and other topics. He mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and eCommerce startups.

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