People often describe themselves as hard-working, but what does that mean?

Hard-working vs Working Hard

Leaders who have achieved success will likely say they have got to where they are because they have put in the ‘hard work’ – which many people think equates to ‘working hard’ and putting in 150% effort.

Being hard-working focuses on an individual’s characteristics and personality, emphasising qualities like diligence, focus, and an open-minded approach. On the other hand, “working hard” is the means to the end.

There is a difference between the two statements, and understanding the difference can influence your approach to a role.

Working hard emphasises the effort an individual showcases during a specific duration i.e., staying late at the office, being on the end of a phone day and night, and getting stressed and anxious because you are busting a gut to get to the end of your to-do list. You might be able to sustain this in the short term; many might even get a kick from this way of working, but inevitably, it will take its toll on your mental health.

Being hard-working describes a person’s overall work ethic, involving strategic planning, thoughtful approaches, and the willingness to tackle challenging and complex tasks, even if they don’t come naturally. It becomes less about the hours spent and more about completing the more demanding work.

How does this change throughout your career?

Hard-working is an internal ethical response to any circumstance within your life, so no matter the situation if the individual is hard-working, they will ensure that they prioritise completing the task successfully. However, the concept of working hard changes as you progress in your career. Things that used to take you hours will now take you minutes due to your greater knowledge of the company, the role, and the systems. So how do you keep working hard even when you’re senior?

It all comes down to continually challenging yourself.

Here at Saragossa, we believe in setting goals and challenges at every level to encourage our team’s development. With both financial and competency objectives at every promotion level, we help individuals become the best versions of themselves. We promote a working culture that embraces diverse talent and fosters a flexible environment, allowing people to tailor their approach to their roles.


Further Reading:

Can we be really honest about the reality of the job?

Project ‘Brilliant’