Australian values and workplace culture: 5 things you need to know

Working in Australia can be very different compared to other countries. So, what is the Australian attitude to work? Australians tend to have a laidback approach, and while workplaces are generally more informal, arriving on time to work is important.

We prefer chit-chat to start a business meeting, as this assists with easing into the deeper conversations. However, there is always a standard of high-quality output expected from Australian professionals.

If you are a recent graduate looking to fit into a new job with an Australian company, here’s everything you need to know to get to grips with the workplace culture and join the vibe. Follow these workplace culture tips and strategies so you get off on the right foot:

1 Master the Workplace Culture, Etiquette and Manners


If you are starting a new job or interviewing for one, the first thing you will need to get right is to greet your new colleagues. Australians generally greet each other with a handshake or a simple hello. They may avoid physical contact now, with COVID being part of our everyday lives.

Workplace hours

Standard office hours are 9 am to 5 pm, with an hour for lunch. However, this can be slightly different for each business, so always check with your manager before starting. Meetings are typically scheduled a couple of days in advance. When requesting holidays, always ask a couple of months before to enable your employer to make necessary plans. If you are sick and require a day off, ensure you call your manager and advise them immediately.

Dress codes

Dress codes vary from office to office. Jobs in the creative industry could require you to dress smart casual. In contrast, professional offices like law, finance and other technical jobs are traditionally more formal and would require a suit and tie. A good idea is to ask your manager or take note of what the other staff are wearing in the office. Your appearance and personal hygiene are very important, especially for your first face-to-face interview.

Networking and socialising

Most businesses encourage a relaxed workplace culture, so friendships at work are common, including going to coffee or drinks after work hours. We spend most of our days working with our co-workers, so take the time to make friends and get to know them. Your co-workers also become part of your social or professional network; they can introduce you to other business contacts.

Networking is an essential part of business and your professional success. Most companies encourage the same level of friendliness among all employees; this means you can learn from other staff within the industry. But always remain professional and respectful to your superiors.


2 Learn the Language – Australian Slang is Part of Workplace Culture

Australians love to joke and make fun of themselves, and using slang is part of Australia’s workplace culture. This can be tricky for international students learning the English language. As you spend more time on the job, you will learn and understand what they mean.

Some slang words like “arvo” for the afternoon, “full on” for intense/wild, and “no worries” for don’t worry about it/it’s ok. Australians love to shorten words by adding “ie” or an “o” at the end, such as “ambo” for an ambulance.


3 Set Yourself Up For Success – Workplace Values are Important

Always try to complete tasks promptly; don’t leave them until the last minute. With remote working becoming more popular, you must be focused and diligent and work autonomously. Set some boundaries and lay out how your work day at home will be balanced, and don’t feel obliged to work long hours.

“Working smarter, not harder” is a common saying in Australia. Time management is very important to being successful as an Australian professional.


4 Know the Relevant Regulations – Important Rules for Australian Professionals

An extensive legal framework governs all businesses in Australia; it’s been put in place to ensure companies don’t take advantage of their employees. Most companies follow the rules; sadly, some may not follow them, such as not paying leave entitlements or less than the minimum hourly rate for the industry you fall within.

Always do your homework and check the relevant legislation on your local government website, especially if something in your job seems unusual.


5 Be Part of a Team – Collaboration is Part of the Australian Attitude to Work

Australians like stress-free work environments, so always help out  others with extra workloads – then everyone feels like they are working as a team. The bonus of assisting each other means you can all finish work on time and enjoy your leisure or family time.


By Fiona Valentine-Lindgren, Corporate Partnerships Executive



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