Australian work culture
Australians are known for being cool, calm and collected people. However, their laid-back nature does not carry over to Australian workplaces.
The truth is Australians take a great deal of pride in what they do for a living. They like to do a good job and genuinely care about the companies and organisations they work for.
So how might these feelings play out in the real world? Take a look at the following advice to understand Australians’ attitudes to work better, and to appreciate how Australians strike up their work-life balance.
Strong work ethic
Australians are fiercely independent people. From a young age, Australian youths are encouraged by their families and schools to get involved in their communities, explore their interests and talents, and most importantly, start thinking about what they’re going to be one day. The vast majority of young Australians start working part-time jobs from or around thetime they are legally allowed to. Most certainly before the age of 18.
By the time an Australian has graduated from their Bachelor’s degree, they may have held two, three, four, five or even more part-time jobs. Many Australian higher education students do multiple part-time jobs over the duration of their degrees.
So it should come as no surprise that Australian workplaces are pretty “hardcore”. That’s Australian slang for – you better be prepared to work hard!
Go the extra mile
The general pace of Australian workplaces is incredibly fast. Efficiency is key, and so is the spirit of being a team player.
Most Australians will perform work duties above or below their “pay-grade”. What’s important is that the company runs smoothly. So, if team members are sick or overburdened with their tasks, other staff in the workplace will “pick up the slack” and help out to ensure business operations continue as usual. So it’s a given that if John had to help Gina last month, Gina will find a way to make John’s working life easier next month.
While the standard full-time contract hours in Australia are usually between 35-40 hours of work each week, it’s not uncommon for Australians to give more of their time than the average standard.
Always on time
Businesses typically open their doors to the public by 9am however it’s pretty common for employees to arrive at work much earlier than this. Additionally, if they have to “stay back late” to ensure that the next working day can start smoothly, they will.
But punctuality doesn’t matter so much around lunch breaks. Because Australians give so much of themselves to their work, they’re respected by their bosses. In most workplaces, there is no fixed place or time for when lunch calls and depending on your contract, lunch is usually between 30 mins to an hour. That time is taken as a form of “personal sanctuary” and most workplaces, if not all, are pretty flexi if lunch goes over a tad more.
In Australia, punctuality is the key. Australians appreciate the fact that everyone is busy and their time is valuable. On all occasions, particularly where a client meeting is involved, lateness is never tolerated. Given the importance of being on-time, it’s smarter to think ahead about what your schedule looks like at least a day earlier. Doing so ensures that other arrangements can be made, enabling a meeting to either continue without your presence or be rescheduled, if need be.
Professionalism in Australia is an identity that people cultivate according to the type of industry their business or organisation operates in. All sectors need staff to demonstrate a combination of interpersonal and communication skills, ethical thinking, reliability, flexibility, ingenuity and integrity. Understanding the particular culture of an organisation before applying for any job is important. This ensures that there’s synergy between your style of working and the culture of the workplace.
Above all, Australian employers value accountability in the workplace. So be prepared to provide a full and complete status report on active tasks at any moment to your reporting manager as accountability forms a major component of your performance management. In Australia, the opinion of every team member is important and every staff member is heard. Workplaces encourage speaking up especially when we believe things can be done better. Office politics are never tolerated and instead of incessant complaining, problems should only be presented to higher management along with a possible solution.
When you consider that you spend equal amounts of time (if not more) at work than at home, creating a safe and enjoyable work environment is crucial to the long-term health and happiness of the staff members.
Australians are sociable and incredibly friendly creatures so mingling and getting along with people from work is extremely important. There is a sense of comradery in Australian workplaces, which is really quite a lovely thing. We love to crack a laugh and tackle anything serious, with a little bit of an “odd joke”. However, we never tolerate bullying, harassment (physical and/or verbal) or humiliation in any shape, way or form. In fact, workplaces are governed not only by the company’s HR policies, but also by FairWork Australia which ensures that all employees and employers are protected and treated fairly.
Additionally, all organisations must adhere to Occupational Workplace Health and Safety (OH&S) policies and non-conformance can be met with hefty fines and penalties. Organisations must ensure that all new and existing staff members are aware of new/changing policies in order to mitigate potential workplace accidents or injuries.
Australians view everyone as being equal to one another. A flat line management structure and open work spaces are common. Where hierarchies exist, organisations work hard to establish healthy relationships across all management levels.
Having respect for each other’s differences is the backbone of our thriving multi-cultural and diverse society. Anti-discrimination laws in Australia are reflected across all aspects of the workplace starting from recruitment through to selection and retention. They particularly encourage full and equal participation of minority communities or people belonging to groups historically discriminated against in society.
Work life balance
Work life balance in Australia is important to ensure the long-term satisfaction and happiness of staff members. Balancing work and life is key to staff retention. Most Australian workplaces are understanding and compassionate when it comes to taking time off for personal reasons, especially when it has to do with caring for a family member or time off to deal with personal issues.
Australia’s two-day weekend falls on Saturday and Sundays. Given the beautiful country we live in, it’s never a hassle to jump into a car and take a long road trip to wherever over the weekend.
Get in touch
Our immigration system provides for a range of Australian work visas which allow everyone from all walks of life to live in and enjoy the perks the country has to offer.
Get in touch with VEVS Global and we can help you get started with the right visa. We’ll also be here to guide you towards opportunities in the Australian job market that will assist you to become a great networker, hone your interpersonal skills and establish your overall workplace competencies.