The Importance of Reliability at Work

Illustration of a group of people and large pawns on a chess board

When we talk about employees’ work ethic, we often focus on how to be more productive and efficient with our time and rarely discuss the importance of reliability in the workplace. However, the tectonic shifts brought on by the pandemic have highlighted that reliability at work is just as important, if not more, for the success of any business. As millions of people shifted to a work-from-home routine, employee reliability became crucial for ensuring that companies continue to operate with the least disruption possible.

Reliability isn’t just about finishing what you’ve been told to do in a timely manner. More often than not, it also refers to your ability to manage your workload and know when to say no or when to ask for help. It means that both the team and your manager can rely on you to manage your workload and deliver for the business to the best of your ability.

Proving yourself reliable takes time. However, the conditions have never been better to demonstrate to your employer that you can work independently as well as a part of a team and deliver to a high standard. As businesses are feeling the stress of reduced manpower and uncertain future, your employer relies on you, now more than ever, to deliver on your tasks and see the business succeed.

Being reliable at work isn’t just about getting brownie points with your manager. Reliability can have a knock-on effect on all aspects of the business, including employee engagement, team collaboration and the overall business performance. It’s essential, therefore, to think of reliability as the glue that holds the pieces together so that you and your employer can be successful in the long run.

Here we share five key ways reliability can help you stay more productive and be more successful both in everyday life and in your career.

1. It can lead to a promotion

Reliability is one of the many traits managers look for when they seek to promote employees and entrust them with more responsibility. This is even more true now when they have limited visibility over how employees work and depend on their reliability to get things done.

Being reliable, in this context, means making the life of your manager and your manager’s manager as easy as possible. If you’re asked to do something, don’t just take a mental note; add it to your calendar or a productivity tool you might use and make sure you complete it in the allotted time frame.

Delivering on these smaller tasks on a consistent basis can increase your standing in your manager’s eyes and, over time, put you in the front line when they’re looking for the next person to head the new business division.

2. It can create new opportunities

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the average employee tenure is a bit over four years. This means that many of the people you currently work with will eventually move on to new opportunities.

Making sure that you build strong working relationships with colleagues across the whole business can help you lay the foundations for a good professional network which can yield you benefits years down the line.

Here, it’s imperative to show your team that they can rely on you to deliver things on time and go the extra mile when necessary. Oftentimes, a colleague might depend on you to finish a task before they can do their job. Be conscious of the impact your work has on others and don’t shy away from asking for help when you feel you need it.

3. It can improve your focus

We live in a world of distractions, where pop-up messages and email notifications can suck hours out of our workday and leave us feeling deflated and unproductive. In fact, a 2016 research by vouchercloud has found that the average employee spends just under three hours on actual work out of an eight-hour workday. That’s almost two-thirds of the time spent on other distractions.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to stay focused at work, one of which is staying mindful of the impact your work has on your team and other colleagues. If you know you need to deliver a report by tomorrow because otherwise, your colleague will look bad at the upcoming executive meeting, you have to stay on track and deliver this on time.

Reliability can be a great motivator to become better at managing your workload and steering away from tantalising distractions.

4. It can increase business revenue

Perhaps you don’t care about the overall success of the business and just want to do your 9-to-5 share of the workload. That’s fine. However, you can make a massive difference with the work you do in those hours by merely staying more focused and accountable to your team. In today’s landscape of uncertainty, where businesses close doors every single day and people lose their jobs in the thousands, companies need every single employee to pull their weight and then some.

High-performing businesses are expected to increase revenue generated per employee at least five-fold from the employee’s salary. This ratio helps the business future-proof its operations against uncertainty and have enough revenue to grow and create the right working environment for its workforce.

That’s where you come in. Being reliable and delivering quality work and exceeding expectations can make or break the business over time. Reliability is just as crucial for the small tasks as it’s for the more significant money-making projects. This quiet, consistent approach to delivering quality work can give your employer the edge in a highly competitive market. This can mean steady income and job security for everyone in the business, including yourself.

5. It can land you your dream job

It might be that you don’t want another promotion. Instead, you might be contemplating moving to a different company or starting your own business. Whichever career trajectory you choose, being reliable and having a strong work ethic can help you navigate the transition more easily. For instance, starting your business comes with a whole host of tasks related to the operational side of the business, including registering your company, setting up invoicing and working out your taxes.

If this is something you’re doing for the first time, you might be tempted to put it off or even postpone launching the business. In this sense, reliability can help you flex your work ethic muscle. The more reliable you’re as an employee, the easier it will be for you to face other challenges when you pursue new opportunities.

Finally, being reliable goes beyond executing the things you’ve been asked to do. Reliability often means being actively involved in helping the team hit its goals by identifying missing processes, offering team members help even when they aren’t asking for it and going the extra mile even when that’s not expected of you.

It also means giving your manager peace of mind that you can work independently and get things done without their direct involvement. Doing these things will not only help the business overcome any challenges it might face in the current climate, but it will help you build ironclad relationships that will stand the test of time and be there for you when you need them the most.


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 August 2014.