So you’ve come to Australia to work, or you’re thinking of it, and trying to work out all the lingo and what’s going on. Here are some workplace traditions and slang to get your head around.
Friday afternoon drinks
Some workplaces will head down to the local pub/bar for a drink or two after work. Some might even have it in the workplace. Most people are always up for this kind of thing of course!! If you’re not still consider going along; it’s not expected but you’ll get to know your colleagues better and fit in more.
Melbourne Cup punts
The Melbourne Cup is a horserace held on the first Tuesday of November. It literally stops the nation as workplaces head to television sets, have special luncheons or even give their employees the day off to enjoy the day – it is a public holiday in the greater Melbourne area. If staff at your workplace ask you to lay a punt or bet, feel free to join in. A few dollars is enough, but gets you involved in the general madness about the day. Read more here.
Footy tipping and cricket obsessions
The other betting that might go on at workplaces is footy tipping. This usually comes into force on Fridays before the weekend fixtures, or it might even happen as a pre-season sort of event. If you want to get involved in your workplace, taking an interest in the big league might help – this varies from city to city eg. Brisbane it’s the rugby league, Melbourne it’s AFL and so on. Cricket is the other sport to learn to obsess over with your workmates.
The annual workplace Christmas party is a tradition across the country. These vary in size and mayhem, but are usually held in December and are when your employee might give Christmas bonuses, free drinks, food and so on. Usually if you want to keep your job into the new year, it’s best not to get too sloshed, but still have a bit of fun. Most people won’t miss the Christmas bash.
Taking a sickie
We don’t advocate the taking of sickies but it’s good to know what they are right?!! A sickie is basically a sick day off work, but taken by people who are not actually ill. This has thus been dubbed “taking a sickie”. In Australia however a lot of actual rostered holidays in the workplace aren’t taken, to the extent to which Tourism Australia launched a competition “no leave no life” encouraging employers and employees to take time off.
Doing a solid days work
Aussies have a tradition for working hard and playing hard. That means they arrive on time for work, appointments and other functions, but they also leave on time. If you’re from a country where time isn’t so important you may need to rethink your approach downunder.
Keep it all cajjjj (casual)
In most Australian workplaces people don’t overdress. For one it’s too darn hot most places but also deemed a little over the top elsewhere. Ties aren’t seen too much, unless it’s a specific workplace that requires it. Even doctors might just wear a smart shirt and pants. Take a look around you and see how other people dress to get your queues. Whatever you do don’t over do it – your colleagues won’t thank you for it.
Learn the phrasology
We’ll do a separate post on this but Aussies have a very specific way of speaking. They’re usually quite direct about things, which might be hard for cultures used to talking around problems and not addressing them specifically. But you’ll know where you stand with your boss usually. There’s a sense of humour prevalent in workplaces too where insults are actually endearments (get used to it quickly!!) and where they don’t like people who blow their own trumpet (promote themselves over others) and talk in polysyllabism (words with too many syllables!) You don’t have to sound dumb, but get to the point, say what you think and use small words and you’re more likely to win your colleagues over.
Got another Aussie workplace tradition to add or something you’ve come across? Write in and tell us!!
Don’t forget VIP Backpackers has workplace starter packs. Here’s one:
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