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The best companies have many things in common – chief among these is their desire to recruit and retain the best employees in their field. But what are the qualities of a good employee, and how can you be sure the people you think are a good fit are the best hires for your NYC-area firm?

Although our team here at Corporate Essentials usually provides readers with ways to keep employees happy in New Jersey and New York City offices, today we’re trying something different. Instead, we’re going to list the 50 best qualities good employees share to help answer those questions. While some people may check off on every box on this list, it is far more likely that you will find people who hit a few key points at a time.

1. Avoids gossip

When it comes to building an atmosphere of open communication where everyone feels valued and welcome, gossip is a virus that wreaks untold havoc on your hard-earned company culture. The best way to eliminate gossip is to have people on your teams who simply do not gossip.

2. Team player

Being able to lead a team is one thing; being able to engage with team members and collaborate as an equal when necessary is another thing. This became especially clear during the COVID-19 pandemic and after, when Manhattan, NYC and NJ offices were shut down or hybrid work arrangements were adopted. For a firm to have continued success, everyone on the payroll needs to be a team player. This is why being a team player ranks high on our list of the best qualities of an employee.

3. Communicates well

Communicating with others is a huge part of working with your team and helping your team within the company. People who communicate effectively bring a great gift to the firm. Communicating well makes our 50 qualities of a good employee list because great communication improves the air of transparency for all.

4. Disciplined

Having the discipline to show up on time, every time and complete tasks by deadlines are valuable traits in an employee. Being disciplined requires focus, initiative and drive.

Being able to maintain focus on an objective, having the self-control to grab a quick bite in the break room and keep it quick, maintaining a good perspective despite hurdles and maybe even laughing a little along the way: that is true discipline, a hallmark among the qualities of a good employee.

5. Punctual

The little delays in your morning routine might cascade and have implications far beyond your schedule, especially in traffic-ridden areas like New Jersey and New York City. Good employees show up on time and incorporate extra time into their schedule in case they run into these delays.

People who can get to work on time, regardless of whatever the day throws at them, are more likely to show up for meetings on time, or even a little early. These are the people you want to seek out for new positions.

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6. Driven to succeed

We mentioned having discipline already, but discipline is only as important if the person is also driven toward a goal. Broadly speaking, people who are driven toward success are better additions to your company because they are always motivated to do their best.

7. Readily adaptable

Whether you consider it flexibility or more of an on-the-fly innovation, having employees who are able to adapt to change and unexpected hurdles is a true asset to your firm. Employees throughout the New York City area certainly had to adapt during COVID and the “new normal.” Those who are capable of adapting to changing situations are problem solvers, who are likely skilled to lead others through struggles with a smile.

8. Has initiative

One of the things we often overlook when hiring someone for a new role is how that job might evolve over time. We hire to meet the immediate need, rather than the evolutionary eventuality. By considering whether candidates have the initiative to grow and change as their role progresses, you provide your team with a stronger long-term resource.

9. Forthright and honest

Being direct and transparent in communication is a huge part of establishing and nurturing an open office culture. If this is the sort of culture your NY or NJ company craves, one of the key qualities of a good employee you should seek is honesty and a forthright approach.

People who speak frankly and bring truth to conversations are valuable assets for a number of reasons. Chief among these reasons is the fact that people who interact with those employees feel more heard, valued and equal in their communication and interaction.

10. Can lead

Leadership is about more than being a good boss. In many modern businesses, it is about being willing to take the initiative to show someone else how things ought to work or how things could be improved.

True leadership exists on multiple levels, and is rarely just about “being the boss”. An employee who can take a leadership role on a small project is showing you their capabilities going forward as well.

11. Detail-oriented

They say the devil is in the details, and quite often it is a little thing someone has overlooked along the way that ends up being the hiccup at the end of a project.

This is why detail-oriented employees make a great addition to any team. It is important that employees are able to notice important details without getting bogged down in the little things. This balance between little details, key details and big-picture focus, is why being detail-oriented is truly among the qualities of a good employee.

12. Energetic and enthusiastic

Some people can come to a meeting and everyone genuinely breathes a sigh of relief. If you were able to identify that type of person from a recruitment pool on day one, you would likely have the happiest staff on the planet.

By providing feedback in a particular way, being generally positive and exuding an air of optimism, these employees add a positive charge to the collective from day one. When you are searching high and low for new talent in candidate-rich areas like New Jersey and New York City, you should try to find these types of new hires to breathe new life into your team.

13. Welcomes challenges

People who can unpick a puzzle make great employees. Since even the most straightforward project can cause unexpected hurdles, team members who are excited by the prospect of a challenge are invaluable.

Our list of good qualities of employees would not be complete without including those who bask in the last-minute complications, because those are the people within companies who often go unsung but never fail to save the day.

14. Remains optimistic

Optimism is a good tie-in for a number of other qualities on our list of great employee characteristics. Like a well-stocked break room, optimistic employees have the ability to refresh tired minds, provide new perspectives and bring others from differing points of view together for a unified purpose.

The importance of optimistic employees is more than just the notion of hoping hard enough until your dreams come true. Optimism is a long-game outlook that keeps people focused through difficult changes, unforeseen complications and even unseasonably rainy days.

15. Goes above and beyond

An employee who always does their utmost to ensure key tasks are completed correctly, on time and within their budget is a treasure. Finding people who are willing and able to go above and beyond for their company and colleagues is not easy.

Getting honest feedback from references is the most reliable way to see if your prospective new hire has this trait among their qualities of a good employee.

16. Dependable

Being dependable is about more than showing up on time and providing deliverables accordingly. Dependability is about the general attitude, willingness to contribute and flexibility to fulfill the needs of a project with skills and resources that are not always in your job description.

This is why finding dependable people is important when considering your vacancies. Anyone can show up; what you want are people who really take part in the challenges of the day.

17. Strong work ethic

The notion of a work ethic may seem intangible, but with a little consideration, it is easy to understand how this seemingly amorphous characteristic makes our list of the best qualities of a good employee.

What defines a strong work ethic varies from business to business, just as the core values of a workplace culture are changeable. Seek employees with a track record of responsibility, reliability and an eye for detail. Then, pair those qualities with values that align with your firm’s ideals.

18. Gets things done on time

Building a reputation for getting things done on time starts with good people meeting their internal deadlines and builds out toward your client-facing efforts. For some, deadlines can either be difficult because they have not been in a time-sensitive environment before, or because they need more support in their role.

19. Constantly improving their skills

Lifelong learning is a huge component of what makes professionals successful in most industries. Seek out new employees who have existing mastered skills, but also check on professional development since having left formal education. Go a step further and check on their willingness to undertake further training, their views on future changes in the industry, or their openness to new technology on the horizon.

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20. Puts in necessary hours

Great workplaces offer flexible hours so that employees can enjoy a solid work/life balance. Great employees understand that this has to be a two-way street, and are willing to put in extra hours here and there to support the wider goals of the company.

This is a good point in our list of the best qualities of a good employee to point out the reciprocal nature of a great workplace culture. Finding workers who understand that they “feed” the culture by providing reliable service and a positive attitude, and the culture in turn “feeds” them by providing flexibility and solid support when necessary is important.

21. Professional

There are many components to professionalism, and some are key qualities of a good employee in their own right. These components include the responsibility, courtesy, honesty, good communication and respect that you would expect to find in a good coworker at any level.

More than this, professionalism is a manner of being. Professional people carry themselves with pride, remain calm in a crisis, can communicate with difficult people without being reactive, and are accountable for their actions with colleagues at all levels.

22. Can prioritize and organize

Employees who are known for being “great workers” often share the twin abilities to stay organized and set priorities. These two characteristics of good employees are not mutually exclusive, though some are better at one than the other.

An employee who is capable of maintaining an overview of conflicting priorities, setting a clear agenda to move through them all, and organizing the mountain of TPS reports that comes along with those priorities is a great find.

23. Respects others

While it can sometimes be difficult, great employees know that the golden rule we learned as children is true: treat others the way you wish to be treated.

Being able to respectfully disagree is a skill that many professionals will spend their entire career working to develop, and there is no shame in admitting it is a skill you need to polish. Seeking new hires who understand the importance of respecting others is vital to building a culture where mutual respect and understanding truly flourish.

24. Overcomes obstacles

It is sometimes all too easy to get bogged down by the chaos that comes with long-term project work, which is why employees who can overcome obstacles are valuable assets to any firm. This is a particular asset when the person in question can rally others to follow their lead.

25. Follows trends

Knowing what is buzz-worthy within your industry can be a huge help when doing strategic planning or angling for new ways to attract customers. So, seek employees who have their finger on the pulse of things in your market; they can make everyone’s job easier.

26. Reliable and responsible

We have mentioned similar qualities of a good employee a few times, but these are worth repeating. Employees that can be relied on to take responsibility for their projects are few and far between, so court them vigorously and work to retain their favor once you have lured them into your recruitment process.

27. Actively supports company goals

Your company’s goals and values are the core of all that you do, so attracting new hires who support them is vital to helping your company culture thrive.

Make your corporate mission well known and encourage engagement with your goals and values by providing incentives to employees. This will establish your reputation for having such worthy goals, which in turn will attract supportive people interested in helping the company achieve them.

28. Involved with company events

Whether it is a stand at the county fair, regular coffee tastings in the break room or corporate missions to far-flung corners of the globe, having company events is pointless without staff engagement.

Ask your prospective new hires how they have been involved in such things with their current or previous employers, and be on the lookout for new staff with ideas for future company events.

29. Grounded and humble

Great teams are made from great employees – but one thing that is often overlooked on the list of qualities of a good employee is being humble. Having all-star team players who are willing to share the glory as much as they are able to shoulder criticisms is a huge step toward creating a fantastic workplace culture for all in your NJ or NYC company.

30. Inspires others

The best leaders bring out the best in those around them, which is why we are including inspiration as one of the top qualities of a good employee. Being able to inspire colleagues toward new and better work is a great quality for new hires.

31. Provides fresh ideas

On a similar note, those who can come into an existing project and provide fresh eyes, new ideas and constructive input are invaluable. Often, the long-term project hiccup that the rest of the team cannot navigate can be surmounted by a fresh perspective.

32. Personal values align with company values

We mentioned the importance of finding employees who support company goals, and this is a further cog on that wheel. When an employee has similar values to those at the core of the firm, it is far easier for that individual to support and work toward goals that match those beliefs.

33. Personable

Personable people are easy to deal with and likable. Finding personable candidates among your applicant pool should be easy because ultimately, personable people are easier to like.

34. Handles pressure well

Whether from deadlines or other variables, people with a history of working well under pressure are good additions to your NY metro workforce. We all hope to create a stress-free workplace, but it’s good to know that when it does rear its head, your people can handle it.

35. Marketable for clients

Some of your staff may never see your clients, but those who will need to fit with the image your company portrays. This is why the unlikely trait of marketability makes our list of the best qualities of a good employee.

36. Attentive listener

Those who listen with the intent to understand and engage in purposeful discourse are valuable to teams at all levels. By choosing listeners rather than those who scan conversation to find points of reply, you showcase the value of two-way communication for all of your teams.

37. Motivates others

Being able to uplift and motivate a team is a unique skill. Motivators are held in high esteem by their colleagues, which makes them innate leaders.

38. Takes responsibility

Personal accountability is a life skill some never master. In your recruitment process, asking people how they have taken responsibility for mistakes on their previous projects can showcase the trait of responsibility among your potential hires.

39. Varies tasks willingly

Employees who get stuck in a rut with their work are rarely happy, and their lack of flexibility can be a detriment to their teams. This is why a willingness to change tasks and share responsibility makes our list of the best qualities of good employees.

40. Relatable

Having empathy and being able to relate to others is a vital component for building good interpersonal relationships at work. Hiring people who are relatable helps foster an overall air of inclusion and community within your business culture.

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41. Articulate

We have highlighted the importance of communication as a quality of good employees before, so we more specifically point out the value of having employees who can put together clear, expressive communication when dealing with others.

42. Mentions concerns

Having an issue with how something is handled but never bringing it up is a great way to create a hostile environment at work. Having staff who are capable of bringing up their concerns in an appropriate manner creates an air of openness.

43. Appreciates constructive criticism

Those who wish to improve their skills and make the best contribution at work are valuable employees. Learning to accept and interpret criticism is a key skill.

44. Tech-savvy

Being future forward and understanding the implications of ever-changing technology to your business model is a huge boon. Finding new recruits who are already armed with that information is a tremendous step toward future-proofing your teams.

45. Quick adaptation to role

Often overlooked among the qualities of a good employee is how quickly the prospect can adapt to their new role. Those who can slot into their new position with ease, both technically and culturally, are the best-fit people for your NYC or NJ firm.

46. Interacts effectively

Some people are more effective communicators than others. The people who can hit the ground running and get their point across to others in your organization are the right people to add to your firm.

47. Able to vary role

Those who can come in, assess the job requirements then adjust their approach to fill demands on the fly are a great addition to your teams. This responsiveness is definitely a top hit on our list of qualities of a good employee.

48. Bends over backward

Knowing that you have people on the team who will go out of their way to help meet deadlines, achieve goals and do whatever it takes to help the firm succeed helps everyone else breathe a sigh of relief; after all, you are in it together.

49. Speaks their mind

Open communication and transparency are great core values for company culture. To foster them, you need employees who can speak their mind with tact at an appropriate juncture.

50. Just nice

Playing nice with others is one of the first attributes we are judged by as children, and going forward in life it can be difficult to be nice to everyone. However, sometimes the difference between a successful pitch and one that bombs is the team’s ability to give a genuine welcome to that grouchy dude from the client’s office.

We hope this list has helped to reinforce the qualities you already know to be a good fit for your firm. For more insight on boosting your company culture by providing delicious snacks and caffeine fixes or by hiring great new talent, contact the team at Corporate Essentials. We have almost 25 years of experience fueling the best corporate cultures in New Jersey and New York City offices, and we are happy to share our insights with you.


Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.