30 Characteristics of a Good Employee

Good employees are easy to spot and are true assets to any company they work for. Here are 30 characteristics of a good employee.

1. Passion
The ideal employee for any position regardless of industry will be a passion for the work they do. Passionate employees always arrive on time and bring their best work to the table regardless of the assignment. Motivating them is easy because they largely self motivate. Passionate employees also produce better work than their peers.

2. Marketability
This isn’t the same thing you would consider for a product. Marketability for an employee needs you can present them to clients or they can adequately present themselves. Employees are often faces or representatives of their organization or company. So it makes sense that employees that are particularly marketable will be better long-term when your company enter business deals or has public relations press releases.

3. Hard Working
This is a staple characteristic of a good employee. Hard-working employees are the backbone of most economic activity and don’t require you to constantly width them back into shape. Employees that work hard produce better work and are willing to correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them. It’s no stretch to say that companies and managers with more hard-working employees than lazy employees will achieve greater heights of success, as will the employees themselves.

4. Modesty
Although some employees are surely superstars, employees that are modest and humble are much better than the reverse. It’s one thing to be confident and another thing entirely to be arrogant. Employees that have the right amount of modesty will avoid overestimating their own abilities and will represent their company capably. They’ll also be willing to accept feedback and criticism, which helps both them and you grow as members of an organization.

5. Confidence
Related to modesty is confidence. You always want an employee that’s confident in his or her abilities. It can be difficult or tiring for a manager to constantly have to prop up an employee and remind them of their value or skills. Confident employees take initiative and are much better when it comes to trying new things or learning new skills than the opposite. Confidence can sometimes be curated in an employee if they don’t have it already; this is often the case with newer workers.

6. Detail-Oriented
You’ll definitely want employees that are detail-oriented. Attention to detail is often critical regardless of industry. Although mistakes will always be made, employees who are detail-oriented will be less likely to make them and they probably take more pride in their work. Fewer mistakes to deal with mean happier managers and a better business as a whole.

7. Honesty
Employees that are honest can be trusted to eventually rise through the ranks and can be given more responsibility. Employees that are dishonest, on the flip side, probably won’t last long at any organization. Honest employees demonstrate integrity and can often be used for financial tasks or trusted with keys and other sensitive resources. The value they bring to the table can’t be understated.

8. Successful History
If you can manage it, it’s always a good idea to seek out employees that already have a little success under their belts. Employees that have found success, either in their hobbies or in prior places of employment, will likely be more confident and have demonstrable proof of their work ethic and efforts. Success is a great aspect to measure when you are trying to fill a new position, particularly if it’s very sensitive and requires an excellent candidate.

9. Optimism
Every business and industry faces challenges; it’s how people respond to the challenges that shows who they are. You should always look for employees that are more optimistic than pessimistic. Optimistic employees can bolster the moods and confidence of those around them and are more likely to bounce back from any potential setbacks. Optimistic employees are a much better choice as well because pessimistic employees can often flounder or lose confidence if they inevitably make a mistake.

10. Cautious
While it’s good for employees to be confident, you should also look for workers that know how to demonstrate the right caution when the situation calls for it. This is especially pertinent if you are looking to fill a position for a managerial role in your company. Employees that know how to exercise caution and make careful decisions are much better than happy-go-lucky workers that will pull the trigger on any opportunity they get.

11. Culturally Fitting
Some employees mesh well with you and your team, while others just don’t have the right personality to gel well with everyone. Whenever you’re hiring someone to join your team, you should consider whether they’ll fit with your workplace culture. This doesn’t necessarily mean nationality but instead refers to their overall personality and interpersonal style. Finding someone who fits well with everyone else will minimize the transition time and help the employee form friendships with their peers.

12. Leadership
Of course, it goes almost without saying that you should look for employees in which you can eventually cultivate leadership. Whether you want someone to replace you or take a lieutenant-style role beneath you, you’ll probably need additional leaders to help you manage a larger organization. Employees that demonstrate leadership can take charge when necessary and are also more likely to be better followers, as they recognize the unique challenges that come with being a leader.

13. Autonomous
No manager wants to constantly be hanging over the shoulders of their employees. You should always try to find autonomous employees that can get the job done without having to be reminded over and over again. Autonomous employees are great because they complete work without being told more than once and often show excellent and useful initiative.

14. Ambitious
Similarly, it’s a good idea to seek out employees that are appropriately ambitious. You have to draw a fine line here, as you don’t want to hire an employee that thinks they are too cool for their current job. But you don’t want to hire someone who is content staying in the same spot for the remainder of their life. Look for someone willing to rise in the ranks, as this shows that they are passionate about the job and will put forth their best effort.

15. Intelligence
Naturally, good employees are intelligent enough both in general and for their job position. You should always look for signs of relevant intelligence. This means focusing on knowledge that pertains to your industry or the job in question.

16. Action-Oriented
An action-oriented employee will take the steps to complete their goals without needing to constantly deliberate or ask you for assistance. While it’s good for employees to feel like they can come to you for advice, they should still be proactive enough to handle issues or complete their work in the event that they encounter a roadblock.

17. Reliability
Good employees are always one that you can rely on. Fickle or unreliable employees can’t be counted on to do their work or show up on time. But reliable employees can act like the bedrocks of your business or organization. They’re like faithful tools you can call upon when you need a specific task or job done.

18. Timeliness
It’s said by some that punctuality is a reflection of respect. Nowhere is this truer than in the workforce. Timely employees are great because it shows that they are committed to their job and it avoids wasting company resources and your time. Never take a chance on an employee that can’t show up to work promptly.

19. Organized
Similarly, employees that are properly organized will probably be a better fit for most organizations than the reverse. While it’s okay for some employees to be more adaptive and agile than others, organization is a great general indication of commitment to the job and maturity. You’ll want more organized employees for some positions than others, of course, but at least some organization is required as standard.

20. Maturity
As mentioned above, maturity is a big deal in any workplace. Mature employees can handle workplace disputes and critique without crumbling beneath words. They can also do a much better job of coming up with creative but responsible solutions to any problems they might encounter. Look for maturity particularly if you plan to fill in a managerial position at your organization.

21. Adaptability
While organization is important, some employees need to be appropriately adaptable. Adaptability, in this sense, means that an employee can change their thinking or solutions to a given situation as needed. Inflexible thinkers often bring down companies as the markets and industries of the global economy are constantly shifting. It’s arguably more important to be adaptable today than at any other point in history.

22. Technically-Savvy
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for an employee to not know how to perform basic computer maintenance or update their phone. Finding employees that are technically savvy enough to carry out these basic tasks should be a must for any position, even if you don’t work in the IT sector. Employees that aren’t technically savvy slow everything down and are often more difficult to reach.

23. Team-Oriented
Just as it’s good to find an employee that fits well with your workplace culture, it’s also critical that you find someone team-oriented. Individualism is great to some extent, but the vast majority of companies rely on teamwork to get bigger projects done. Employees that work well with teams and to understand the purpose of sharing success and failure will be a better fit in most organizations.

24. A Good Communicator
Most good employees know how to communicate their thoughts and feelings respectfully and succinctly. You should look for this trait in every employee you hire but especially for managers, as a big part of their job is communicating with their underlings and fostering a good working environment. Good communicators bolster the performance of everyone on their team, not just themselves.

25. Welcomes Challenges
Great employees don’t only rise to any occasion but welcome challenges as they show up. A team member that welcomes challenges will dive headfirst into looking for solutions and will be much better than someone who dreads artwork. Oftentimes, this quality accompanies many other traits, like organization and passion.

26. Professional
The level of professionalism needed in an employee varies from industry to industry, but it’s important everywhere. Team members who aren’t professional or who are too casual and break down the work relationships everyone relies on to get work done at a company. Finding someone who is the right level of professional will be great both for interpersonal relationships at an organization and with outside clients.

27. Respectful
It’s always good to find employees that are respectful both of themselves and others. These employees know how to obey boundaries between themselves and other people and will stand up for themselves if they feel that they are being misrepresented. Both aspects are important, but it’s especially critical that managers be respectful individuals, as nothing is more important when it comes to cultivating respect from their underlings.

28. Involved
Oftentimes, the best employees are those who are involved in workplace culture or workplace events. Someone who just shows up for their clock hours and then never socializes or communicates with the team otherwise is probably a less valuable employee than someone who is constantly engaging with the mission. Find someone involved if you want them to be a real superstar at your company.

29. Inspiring
This quality is especially valuable for future leaders. Those who can inspire others produce much better work and greater companies than the alternative. They’re also usually a lot more self-motivated and passionate, so it’s easy to find these traits bundled together.

30. Innovative
Finally, it’s a good idea to look for employees that are innovative in their sphere or specialty. Companies and businesses these days don’t find success by doing what’s been done before; they win by becoming the first at something new and excellent. Employees that have the creative drive and intelligent innovation to launch your company into the future are worth their weight in gold.


Good employees have many positive traits that have an overall positive impact on the companies they work for. Hiring good employees requires time and effort, but the overall effect it will have on your business will be worth it.

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.