Australia is home to some of the deadliest animals, the most beautiful beaches and the friendliest people (and I’m not just saying that because I’m from there). This year, it came in 20th in the 2018 Global Innovation Index (GII), with Human Capital & Research, Business Sophistication and Market Sophistication as its key strengths. Furthermore, Australia comes in 1st on the list of the healthiest nations in the southern hemisphere, and 10th in the world (according to Legatum Prosperity Index 2017). So, why is the Land Down Under a perfect environment for innovation and healthy living? We decided to investigate!
Understanding the Australian work ethic
The Hard yakka
The hard yakka refers to “hard work” in Aussie slang (it comes from an extinct Aboriginal language). All over the world, we hear that, in Australia, “we work hard, we play hard” and Australians live up to that reputation! The working hours are officially shorter, but employees focus on completing their tasks, and not the time it takes to get them done. While people have a relatively laid-back approach to work, Australians take great pride in the quality of their work. Even if it’s important to socialise and to start the day off with chitchat, you can’t lose sight of why you came to the office in the first place: to work. In an article from the Australian Business Insider, the cofounder of Myriad, Martin Talvari, an Estonian, compared Australia to the Nordic countries regarding the quality over quantity, education and wellbeing. The work/life balance remains key to understanding the Australian work ethic.
Another revolutionary change in the workplace that is currently taking the world by storm, is the idea that employees need more autonomy. In Australia, most companies have been giving their employees more freedom for a while now. The tyranny of distance has played a role in more flexible leave, so that Aussies can visit the rest of the world. Australians love to travel! They also love their own country, which has more than enough to offer in the way of natural beauty and local activities. For this reason, many companies offer flexible hours, so that employees can juggle their personal and professional life. As we said before, what’s important, is getting the job done. By giving employees more freedom, companies build stronger trust and empower their workers. One example of this approach to work is the highly successful Atlassian enterprise software company. Within the company, it’s all about empowered workers and transparency.
Polite, but honest
This brings us to another essential part of the Australian work ethic: you are expected to be polite, but honest. One aspect of the working week Down Under that foreigners often highlight, is the socialising. The list is long: the chitchat before a meeting, the Friday drinks, the general friendliness towards others, etc. However, for most Aussies, that kind of behaviour all boils down to common courtesy. Consequently, the hierarchy at work is less visible than it might be in a more traditional work environment. You’re expected to say “please” and “thank you” and “how are you?” to everyone, because it’s polite. This means that friendliness is extended to everyone, and not just the big bosses.
The funny thing is that the opposite is also true. In addition to good manners, Australians are also pretty “down to earth”. This translates into transparency, with your colleagues and your bosses. As a rule, if there’s a problem within the team, Australians face the issue. It’s about getting the job done, and if an obstacle prevents that from happening, then you need to tackle it head on.
The importance of healthy living
Get healthy, that’s an order!
Australia systematically ranks among the healthiest countries in the world, and Melbourne has repeatedly been recognised as the world’s happiest city by the Time Out City Life Index.
It’s not that surprising when you consider all the different government organisations and charities focused on health in Australia: Health direct, Healthy WA, EatForHealth, PrivateHealth, AIHW, NutritionaAustralia, the Department of Health, SANE, CancerAustralia, etc. In a way, the fact that the number one causes of mortality in Australia are a mix of physical and psychological illnesses, means that the health focus is particularly broad. There is real social and political pressure to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Work, but be healthy
One government program in particular targets healthy living within the office: the Get Healthy at Work program. The positive initiative has been encouraged by the New South Wales Government for the past couple of years, and some big companies have really taken to it. The program involves spreading more awareness around healthy habits for a longer, happier life.
Since heart disease, and other chronic illnesses like diabetes and some cancers, affect a large percentage of Australians, the program aims to prevent them from developing in the first place. It also offers advice and support for workers suffering from mental health issues. One example of the Get Healthy at Work initiative can be found at Cundall, the leading sustainability engineering firm in the country. They even made a video of their staff explaining how the program has transformed the office and the way they do business. Healthy employees also means a healthier budget, which the government has also emphasised to encourage businesses to get involved. The “biz saver” can predict how much money you could save from fewer sick days. Are you convinced yet?
Working in Australia for foreigners
Australia needs you!
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of employed people has been rising over the last four years, and the unemployment rate has been dropping. In August 2018, there were around 240 900 job vacancies in Australia, which is a significant increase compared to the beginning of the year. So, what does this mean? Well, the job vacancies are increasing faster than the number of available candidates. Bruce Hockman, the Chief Economist at the Australian Bureau of Statistics has even stated that these results are “consistent with other indicators in the labour market that are suggesting vacancies are becoming harder to fill.” If the Australian workforce can’t fill all the available positions, then the only solution is to bring out more workers. It is common practice to sponsor foreign workers so that they can stay in the country and help a company prosper. If you’re interested in working in Australia, then now is the time to act!
In the 2018 Global Innovation Index, Australia is ranked among the top countries for its education. However, the universities might be great, but they are also very expensive.
Luckily, the Australian student visa allows foreign students to work up to 40 hours every two weeks while their course is in session. They can even work full-time over the holidays! For this reason, it’s one of the best places to study and work at the same time. Furthermore, family members included in the student visa application are also entitled to the same working conditions. How great is that? (We like rhetorical questions in Australia).
Finding a job
Like most first world countries in the 21st century, many jobseekers in Australia rely on the internet to find their next position. In Australia, the leading job board is Seek. That said, bulletin boards, notice boards and newspaper remain a rather popular way to look for work too.
Furthermore, statistics show that underemployed and unemployed Australians are almost just as likely to apply for work through an advertisement on the internet or a notice board as to write, phone or contact an employer directly for work. Businesses like recommendations and word of mouth feedback on candidates. In some countries, that particular hiring method might seem outdated, but in Australia, it’s still very popular. If you’re going to be working and socialising with someone, then you want to know you can get on with them as a colleague and as a human being.
For more information on recruiting and working in Australia, you can check out how to recruit in Australia.
Author: Ali Neill
As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.
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