Tips & tricks for navigating the Australian workplace

A new country can be daunting to navigate, and even more, so when you’re entering the workforce for the first time in that place.

We understand everything from language to cultural differences can present as a challenge when applying for jobs, and equally when you land one and start in a new office.

At Performance Education, we have worked with over 30,000 students and know the challenges they face when forging their way in the Australian workplace, and are here to help with a few tips and tricks for navigating this space:

Directness
In many cultures it can be frowned upon when people are too ‘straightforward’ and/or ‘direct’ when voicing their opinions. In Australia, it can be quite the opposite – where values such as ‘openness’ and ‘communication’ are highly valued as it forms the foundations of trust but also enables a workplace to function effectively.

Punctuality
Being on-time matters. It is imperative employees show up on time to work, meetings etc. By being punctual, it demonstrates your level of commitment and how reliable you can be. As the saying goes, ‘how you do anything, is how you do everything’ – getting the small things right like being on-time will showcase you can be trusted with bigger responsibilities in the future.

Personal connections – don’t forget to network
Critical to having a successful work career is your ability to create deep and meaningful connections with your peers. Within the Australian workplace, small-talk matters – whether it is about sports, the weather, or your weekend plans. This type of casual chatter helps you not only get to know your peers but assists in building meaningful connections. Ultimately the better the relationships you have at work, the easier it is for you to work in that environment.

Communication and Asking questions
A rule of thumb is it is always better to overcommunicate rather than under communicate. This would apply to anything including being late for work, requesting for deadline extension, personal circumstances preventing you from working or sharing a personal situation. Openness and honesty are highly valued within the Australian workplace.

This also applies to asking questions to your peers. If you can’t figure out a solution, asking for help is key. In other words, when faced with a problem, try to figure it out yourself first, then approach your peers/superior if you can’t find the solution. Australian’s encourage initiative, so try to figure out a solution to demonstrates how autonomous you can be.

Dress for Success  
It’s important to be dressed appropriately for the business you work within. For example, corporate offices often require a suit & tie whereas other workplaces, like a creative based office, may favour jeans & t-shirt. Ask ahead about the dress policies so you can prepare accordingly!

Handshake
A handshake is likely one of the first things an employer/peer will evaluate you on. It’s good to have a firm handshake and always pair it with strong eye-contact. In Australia, a handshake is a way of greeting but also a gesture to confirm a deal. Do not shy away from a handshake!

Be Open to Learning
With any new environment, it’s inevitable things will be different and challenging at first, but we suggest embracing the change. Whether it’s the people you meet, new culture around you, language used or way of working – there will be a lot to take in. Keep an open mind to these new experiences, don’t be afraid to ask a colleague or mentor for the ‘lay of land,’ or any tips & tricks to navigate the company. It may be daunting at first but with an open mind to learning it will get easier!

Good luck!

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