Australia offers a unique experience in its workplace that can often catch recently employed migrant workers off guard. But fear not! By nature, the Australian workplace is a relaxed and friendly place, and once you understand how your co-workers interact, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fully-fledged member of its community.
The Australian work environment is an open and sociable place, in a short amount of time you will be familiar with its customs and be accepted as part of the team.
Australian workplace culture: What can I expect?
Australians are renowned for their laid-back attitude, not in the sense of being lazy or unconcerned, but rather in that they are personally easy-going. You’ll hear the phrase ‘No worries!’ on a regular basis, alongside others like it, and it’s a useful habit to get into yourself.
Whether it be something as simple as getting a co-worker a coffee or helping to ease a problematic part of their workload, your co-workers will recognise your friendliness and team spirit, and welcome you into the group.
An additional part of this easy-going society is what goes on outside the workplace. Don’t be surprised if your team all go out for lunch or drinks after a day of work – these things are perfectly normal! Other such occasions include: if a co-worker is promoted, if there is a birthday within the group, or around the Christmas period.
Australian workplace culture: What did you say?
While the spoken language of Australia is English, there is an undeniable difference between the language spoken here and in the halls of Buckingham Palace.
Australian slang is widely used in everyday conversation, and its meaning is not always immediately apparent. For example, a co-worker might announce that their computer was ‘completely cactus’ (‘not functioning’) and that they were going out for a ‘sanga’ (‘sandwich’) while someone fixes it.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you don’t understand what someone’s said, they will quickly explain what they’ve said and you will have gained a new Australianism to add to your vocabulary.
Australian workplace culture: What should I say?
How you greet people will leave a lasting impression on those around you. The standard Australian greeting is ‘G’day’ (‘Good day’) or ‘Hello, how are you?’, and both show an interest in the wellbeing of whoever you are talking to. This will be appreciated, and the person you are talking to will be more open with you in conversation.
If you’re looking to start a conversation with a colleague, talking about sport is a good place to start. Sport is a huge part of Australian culture, and almost everyone has a firm opinion about it.
Australian workplace culture: What to avoid:
As with all workplaces, while there are certain things that you definitely should do, there are equally others that are best avoided.
Poor hygiene is definitely one of these. As spacious as the typical work environment usually is, no one enjoys sharing the space with someone whose hygiene is substandard. Deodorant is an absolute must, especially during the summer, where high temperatures can create an uncomfortable environment if a member of staff neglects to prepare against it.
Speaking a language other than English can also be seen negatively, as you will find that people will be unable to understand you. While Australia embraces its multicultural nature, the workplace can begin to fracture if workers feel excluded by a language barrier. A misunderstanding Australian listener may assume that you are taking advantage to speak badly of your co-workers.
Australian workplace culture: Key things Australian employers / managers want to see:
– Punctuality – being late will not be tolerated.
– Politeness at work – a rude worker will decrease a team’s productivity, and will be swiftly removed.
– Teamwork – Australians love to help each other out, if you can demonstrate an ability to do this you will be far better appreciated.
– Cleanliness – a worker who takes pride in their appearance will help make the company look good, while also not offending their co-workers.
– Good customer service – next to productivity, personality is king in the Australian workplace. Offering your service with a smile will make you a valued employee.
– Hard work – slacking will be noticed and quickly punished.
– A well-rounded, professional employee – to gain and retain a job in Australia, you must satisfy two interlocking criteria. For the first, a good work ethic and dedication to your role, while in the second you must let your personality show, being friendly to all around you. Accomplishing these two will solidify your status as an ideal worker.
Final thoughts – being accepted in the Australian workplace
An open and friendly personality will help you immensely in the Australian workplace, alongside good hygiene and manners to match.
If you have any questions about fitting in to the work environment, please get in touch so I can help you.
I wish you all the best in your job search!
Career Coach and Director, ACECIS