Back in the 1990s, there was a television show called, "Kids Say the Darndest Things!" It was based on a feature that was heard on Art Linkletter's old-time radio show and long-running T.V. series in which kids would share their candid – and unintentionally funny – thoughts and reactions.

Well, it's not just kids who say the darndest things. How about adults?

Findings from an annual survey conducted by the opinion and polling gurus at Harris Interactive, Inc. for CareerBuilder, indicate that the most common excuse employees have given for not showing up to work is being sick.

Thirty percent of workers, however, have called in sick when they have not actually been ill. This speaks to the work ethic of those individuals who called in sick even when they weren't.

The study was conducted online and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

Employees gave all sorts of excuses for not coming to work. Just didn't feel like going. Needed to relax. Had to catch up on sleep. Needed to run errands. Had a doctor's appointment.

Then there are the more creative explanations.

  • My toe got stuck in the faucet.
  • I was too upset after watching "The Hunger Games."
  • I forgot I had been hired for the job.
  • My dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation.
  • My dog was having a nervous breakdown.
  • I was suffering from a broken heart.
  • A bird bit me.
  • I got sick from reading too much.
  • I dyed my hair at home and turned it orange.
  • My sobriety tool wouldn't allow the car to start.

While you could admire the honesty (and ingenuity) of these employees, most of us would agree that their work ethic needs, well… some work. In order to develop a strong work ethic, follow these five easy steps for work ethic development outlined below and explained in the next section.

Steps for Developing a Good Work Ethic

  • Practicing Punctuality
  • Developing Professionalism
  • Cultivating Self-Discipline
  • Using Time Wisely
  • Staying Balanced

Here are some things you can do now to develop a good work ethic.

1. Practice punctuality.

Develop the habit of being on time or early for all appointments. Getting to class ahead of schedule gives you the opportunity to talk with your professor or get mentally prepared by reviewing notes. If you're taking classes online, stick with your study schedule, hitting the books at the time you planned.

2. Develop professionalism.

Professionalism goes beyond a crisp white shirt and tie. It includes your attitude, values, and demeanor. Practice being positive and cordial. Refrain from gossip. Be respectful of others. Develop a reputation of integrity, which means being honest, just, and consistent in what you say and do.

3. Cultivate self-discipline.

Anything worthwhile achieving takes discipline – staying focused on the long-term goal and not being side-tracked by short-term gratification. Train yourself to be persistent and to follow through on projects. Strive for excellence in your assignments.

4. Use time wisely.

You might have heard it from your grandmother, but Benjamin Franklin was actually the first to say, "Never leave that 'till tomorrow which you can do today." It's age-old advice, but far from outdated. Complete assignments on time. Ban procrastination from your life, keeping in mind something else Franklin, said: "Time is money."

5. Stay balanced.

Having a good work ethic does not mean keeping your eyes glued to your computer monitor. It includes knowing how to take care of yourself. Getting proper sleep. Eating right. Taking time to relax and recharge. Keeping your priorities in life clear helps you maintain the proper perspective at work.

Maya Angelou said, "Nothing will work unless you do."

Develop a good work ethic now, and who knows? It could prevent you from getting your toe stuck in a faucet later in life.

Do you agree? Can you develop a strong work ethic? Or is it something you're either born with or not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Image Credit: gregloby on Flickr/Creative Commons