What to expect in a workplace

If you’ve never worked before, or you’ve only had a couple of jobs, you might not know what to expect from a modern workplace.

If you’ve never worked before, or you’ve only had a couple of jobs, you might not know what to expect from a modern workplace. The place where you go to do your job is known as your workplace. Just like people, workplaces are all different. Depending on the type of work you do, you can expect certain common things in workplaces.

Types of workplaces and workers

Workplace can be situated in a variety of settings including offices, manufacturing facilities, childcare centres, shops or factories, stores, farms – outside or inside. You might need safety gear like special shoes or a high-viz jacket, or you might need to wear a business suit. You might sit down for most of the day, go to meetings with colleagues or clients, or you might do most of your job standing up. You might be a ‘white collar worker’ (mainly office work) or a ‘blue collar worker’ (mainly factory, trades or labouring work). You might work with computers, cash registers and other equipment, or you might work with your hands, tools and stay active on the job. Generally, your employer has the right to decide on the type of workplace you have, as long as it is safe.

How to prepare for a workplace

If you’ve never been to your new workplace, do some research before your first day. Look online to see what the organisation does, ask your case manager, one of our AimBig staff, a family member or someone at Centrelink. It’s good to be prepared, so if you get the opportunity you can ask about the type of place you’ll be working and what to expect in your daily routine.

As part of your preparation, ask about what you should wear to work and what you should bring. For example, you might be expected to wear protective clothing like trousers and safety boots, or you might need a high-viz vest and personal protective equipment (PPE). Or you might be expected to wear professional attire like business suits and shoes suitable for working in an office environment. In terms of what to bring to your new workplace, this might include your lunch, a drink and snacks, or a notepad, pen and phone. Every workplace is different, so ask your new boss beforehand if you can.

Working safely

Even if you don’t have to wear safety gear like steel-capped boots or high-viz, you will still be expected to take care of yourself and others in the workplace, to follow any safety or other instructions, and to take breaks in line with your employer’s expectations. This means a lunch break and whatever short breaks your boss or supervisor says you can have. If you have the type of job that involves a lot of standing or sitting, it’s good to move around and get the muscles moving doing other activities. You might have time to go for a short walk, or chat to colleagues, or even do some stretches.

How to communicate with colleagues

As part of your job you’ll most likely have to talk to colleagues (your co-workers), your boss or supervisor or customers (clients). Watch closely how a co-worker or boss speaks to these other people and match your communication style. Your new employer might give you specific instructions about how to speak, what to say, or what not to say or do. Listen carefully to these instructions and take notes if it helps you to remember. Treating everyone respectfully is a common workplace rule. You can expect to be spoken to politely and to have your feedback listened to, especially if it’s about how you do your job or any improvements you can suggest to better perform your duties.

When it comes to talking with your co-workers, remember to keep casual conversation to a minimum during work hours, unless your boss says it’s OK to talk while you work. Breaks are a good time to make friends or chat about yourself and your hobbies. If you get nervous, practice talking in everyday conversations with your case manager, friends, family or an AimBig staff member. Role playing can be really useful if you suffer from anxiety.

Not all disabilities are obvious

Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability, that’s 1 in 5 people. Your employer or new colleagues might not be aware if you have a disability. While you can see a person using a wheelchair or walking frame, many people have less ‘visible’ disabilities, including mental health or neurological conditions. If you want to disclose your disability, that’s up to you though, unless it impacts your safety at work or ability to do the job.

What to expect in your daily routine

The first thing to think about (before your first day) is whether or not you will need any special access consideration. For example, if you have physical disability and the organisation has stairs or multiple levels, your employer will need to have a plan in place to make the workplace accessible for you. Other factors might be:

  • access ramps
  • elevators/lifts
  • public transport routes nearby
  • disabled parking allocated.

Make sure your employer is aware if you need extra assistance.

Your daily routine will depend on the type of job you have been hired for. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected from you, which is often called your job description. Ask questions about your work routine, what you’re expected to do, how much and by when. All you need to do is ask, listen and learn.

Getting feedback in your new workplace

It’s really helpful for your long-term prospects of staying in a job to get feedback about your performance. After a few days, you could ask your supervisor how you’re doing – if they haven’t already given you feedback., Don’t be afraid to ask questions like ‘How do you think I’m going in the job so far?’ or ‘What skills do you think I could improve on?” Learning on the job never stops, and getting useful feedback helps us grow into better workers and stronger people. As workers, and as people, we need to be resilient and stay positive. Even if you get feedback that makes you feel upset, embarrassed or unsure, there are things you can do:

  • Seek clarification – ask for specific advice or feedback, listen carefully and show you’ve understood by repeating it (for example, ‘So you’d like me to change the way I do the task, like this?’ or ‘So you’d like me to say good morning to customers?’)
  • Try to do what you’re asked and stay positive. Be on time (punctual) to your workplace, and show you’re keen to do a good job. You can always ask your case manager, a colleague or your supervisor for help if you need it.

The best workplaces are those that treat everyone fairly and with respect.

Need help?

AimBig has a high performing team of employment services and allied health professionals, each with a strong focus on empowering job seekers and connecting them with the right employers.

Contact us on 1300 034 997 to find out how we can help you.

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