The Workplace provides an understanding of workplace challenges, attitudes, values and quality work relationships.

The workplace is where we spend a good deal of our waking lives. This module helps students to explore the workplace not only as a physical location but also a place where they can express themselves, utilise their skills and interact with others. It offers strategies to help students adapt to the varied challenges of the workplace, in order to achieve positive work experiences.

On completion of this module students should:

  • Understand that a workplace is many and varied, and be able to identify the different types of workplace
  • Understand that there are certain rights, conditions and entitlements that apply to workers and which are required by law
  • Accept that workers have certain responsibilities which are also required by law
  • Know where to find information on workplace rights and responsibilities
  • Understand the process for raising concerns and seeking advice
  • Understand the importance of quality work relationships and how nurturing these contributes to the success or otherwise of the workplace
  • Identify the personal attributes and attitudes that enhance workplace success
  • Understand workplace etiquette
  • Demonstrate effective teamwork
  • Identify and evaluate workplace challenges
  • Use effective communication in the workplace
  • Benefit from workplace journaling

What Is The Workplace?

Put simply, the workplace is the physical location where people are employed to work. Considering the almost limitless spectrum of jobs, the workplace is many and varied. It can be the factory floor or the dance floor, the high-rise office or the rolling fields of a farm, the depths of the ocean or space shuttle with a view out of this world!

Workplaces are busy and bustling or silent and solitary. They are large and open or crowded and cramped. They are whatever is called for - a place or space to get the job done.

Remote work

Employers don’t always provide a physical working space. Some work is done remotely. This is an arrangement where employees don’t travel to their place of work but instead work from home. An example of this is ‘piece work’, where employees are provided with the materials and equipment needed to manufacture from home. They are paid by the piece rather than the hours worked.


Telecommuting is another form of remote work. Increasingly, with the advance of digital technologies and time spent in cyberspace, more and more people have the freedom of working from a home office, the kitchen table or the corner of a conference room in another city, utilising the internet, email and phone. Whether working remotely or telecommuting, employees are still operating from a workplace - just not one that is provided by the employer.

Look at different workplaces and list how many you can come up with. What types of tasks are performed in each of these workplaces? What types of services are provided? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working:

Outdoors - Indoors - Remotely Telecommuting

Although no workplace is the same, there are workplace rights that apply to all workers. These rights have been hard fought over the years and are required by law.

They work to the benefit of employers and employees and allow Australians some of the best working conditions in the world.

There are rules set out about conditions of work. These rules cover such things as hours and compulsory breaks. They are set out in:

  • Awards
  • Registered agreements
  • Employment contracts

Minimum entitlements

There are also minimum entitlements such as minimum pay, leave and notice of termination. These entitlements are covered in the National Employment Standards (NES) and awards. Like work conditions, they are set out in registered agreements and employment contacts, and cannot be less than what is set in the NES.

In short, it is the right of all workers to have and the responsibility of all employers to provide:

  • A safe work environment (including protective clothing and equipment)
  • Adequate facilities
  • A workplace free from bullying and discrimination
  • Fair entitlements

Most employers comply with these responsibilities, however some take advantage of the inexperience and vulnerability of first-time workers. Some cut corners to save money or time, and others (although there is no excuse for this) are merely ignorant of their responsibilities. It’s important then for young people to understand their workplace rights and entitlements and to understand where they can go for help if these are not being met.

A two-way street

Along with rights and entitlements, workers also have important responsibilities in the workplace. It’s a two-way street.

Workers are responsible for:

  • Understanding the conditions of their employment
  • Working in a way that doesn’t put themselves or others at risk.
  • Undertaking the duties required of them
  • Understanding the procedures to follow if an employer is not meeting their responsibilities

How do new employees find out what their rights and responsibilities are? Most workplaces provide a thorough induction, which is a formal introduction to the workplace. This involves introducing new employees to:

Conditions of employment

  • Award or Registered Agreement
  • Probationary period
  • Duties
  • Rate of pay
  • Hours of work
  • Entitlements for regular breaks, leave, holidays

Bullying and discrimination

  • Understanding rights and responsibilities
  • Resolution of conflict or paths to redress

Health and safety procedures

  • Risk management and maintaining a safe work environment
  • Access to appropriate gear and equipment
  • Awareness of emergency procedures
  • Reporting of hazards and injuries
  • Awareness of State or Territory laws on health and safety


  • Training in equipment and procedures
  • Ongoing professional development

On induction new employees are usually given a folder or a checklist to record that this has been met. It is their responsibility to familiarise themselves with this information, and to keep up-to-date as changes occur throughout their working life.

Understanding the job description

It might seem obvious, but understanding the role of the job is probably one of the most important aspects of starting a new position. Employees must be clear about the tasks and duties outlined in the job description so they can effectively perform their work.

Sometimes workers have concerns about issues in the workplace. It can be difficult to raise these, even when there are processes in place. It’s especially difficult for a young person if they fear they will jeopardise their job or will not be taken seriously. If a young worker feels uncomfortable about approaching their employer or supervisor with concerns, they don’t need to do it alone. They should seek the support of a trusted colleague, mentor or union representative. Further advice and information can be found by visiting any of the following websites

Fair Work Guide for Young Workers (the Fair Work Ombudsman) - provides information for young workers on their rights and responsibilities at work, advice on pay and conditions and developing the skills to talk to management about workplace issues

Fair Work Commission(Australian Government Website)

Safe Work Australia for in- formation on health and safety support in the workplace

What is attitude and what does it have to do with the workplace?

The simple definition of attitude is the way we think or feel about something. This affects our behaviour, which in turn affects the way we interact with others. It is this interaction with work colleagues, clients or customers that has ramifications on our work relationships, our emotional wellbeing and also our job performance.

In the workplace, the right attitude can mean the difference between:

  • A good day and a bad day
  • A monotonous job and one that is bearable
  • A poor or a polished performance
  • A sloppy or an outstanding product
  • A stagnating career or a career on the rise
Young adults entering the workforce for the first time will find that arming themselves with a positive attitude will pay dividends throughout their working life. They will be more likely to get along well with co-workers, interact positively with customers and clients, execute their job well, earn those promotions and enjoy what they do.

The original motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, ‘It is your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude’. The attitude we don as we prepare for work is a conscious decision that determines our success. Our attitude rubs off on people around us. It’s never too early for students to start practising the habit.


Sometimes it will be difficult to walk into the workplace feeling enthusiastic, especially on a Monday morning. At times like these, enthusiasm is a choice. Saying something is dull or difficult is self-perpetuating. Approaching work with a degree of enthusiasm is also self-perpetuating. Eventually the enthusiasm and the energy that comes with it will catch on.

Take a breath and just do it:

  • Choose to be enthusiastic
  • Attack each task with energy
  • Participate - engage fully in what you do


To strive for efficiency is both an attitude and a skill that sees work done effectively and in a timely manner. An efficient person is seen as capable and competent. People are more willing to work with somebody who is efficient, and to seek their advice and guidance. An efficient worker is more likely to get ahead.

Develop good working habits:

  • Set deadlines
  • Prioritise your day
  • Delegate


An attitude of excellence calls for the habit of giving a little extra to every task. The attitude and practice of excellence in both the behaviour and product is obvious to others. Performing tasks with pride puts a person’s skills and knowledge on display and fosters the belief and admiration of others. It is the difference between a sloppy, mistake-ridden report and a finely crafted oak cabinet. Don’t settle:

  • Know your strengths
  • Perform your work with pride
  • Strive to exceed expectations


It is said that the most productive time of the day is early in the morning. What a shame to waste that time when the mind is fresh and there is not the distraction of chatty co-workers and ringing phones.

Show your conscientiousness:

  • Set the alarm to enjoy the sunrise
  • Clear your emails and small tasks
  • Plan the day


The easiest person to get along with at work doesn’t complain when asked to do something different, and doesn’t spend team meetings grumbling about problems without offering solutions. The easiest work colleague to get along with is helpful and good-humoured, creates a positive work atmosphere and gets more cooperation from colleagues and appreciation from their employer.

Get along:

  • Give credit where it is due
  • Be respectful and sincere
  • Keep it professional

Keep in mind

As American politician William Bennett said, ‘There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes’. Just as in a factory line, no matter what the job is, it is an important component to the success and value of the overall product. Do it with pride!

In this activity students will look closely at their attitude towards certain activities, and investigate the way their attitude affects their enjoyment or success in these. They must also think about strategies for improving their attitude and the possible outcomes of these strategies. Perhaps they could start putting some of these into place.


Discuss with your class the way our attitude affects the people around us.

Points of discussion:

How do other people’s attitudes affect the way you feel and act?

Give examples of a time when another person’s attitude has influenced your own mood and thoughts in either a positive or negative way.

Give examples of a time when your attitude has influenced other people.

How important is attitude at school or in the workplace?

Students already understand from their school experience, and even in their sporting and community activities, that the quality of the relationships with people around them often corresponds with their enjoyment and degree of success. It is no different in the workplace. As they enter the workforce, young adults need the skills and understanding essential to building good relationships at work.

WHY are quality work relationships so important?

Friendship - Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons for fostering quality relationships at work is to form friendships. Just as friendship with classmates makes school a more rewarding experience, so too does friendship with work colleagues. Colleagues don’t need to live in each other’s pockets, but studies have shown that workplace friendships can bring greater job satisfaction all round.

Pleasant atmosphere - this is simple really. Quality relationships make a pleasant atmosphere. When people don’t get along at work, the day can be long and unpleasant.

Co-operation - harmonious work relationships mean that colleagues are more receptive to sharing ideas and working towards a common goal. An atmosphere of cooperation also supports creative thinking and the sharing of new ideas.

Productivity - with good working relationships comes greater engagement and more pride in the job. The outcome of this is that business runs more smoothly and with greater productivity

WHAT do quality work relationships look like?

The characteristics that define a quality work relationship are those that define any quality relationship. If students know what this looks like, they can work towards it.

Trust - is the foundation of every good relationship. Colleagues who trust one another can communicate without wariness or concern.

Mutual respect - work colleagues who value each other’s ideas and opinions are better able to work through issues and solve problems.

Mindfulness - colleagues who are sensitive to each other’s feelings, don’t allow negative experiences or emotions to impact on other people or on the workplace.

Welcoming of diversity - a truly diverse workplace celebrates, shares in and learns from the different ideas, opinions and experiences of people from all backgrounds


Open communication - rich and rewarding workplace relationships are helped by effective, open and honest communication.

WHERE AND WITH WHOM are quality work relationships developed?

The workplace - We invest so much time and effort in the workplace that the people we work with can become like family. Developing and nurturing quality relationships with people at work not only makes life infinitely more pleasant, but could also make career prospects more rewarding. Develop good relationships with:

  • Work colleagues
  • People from other departments or who work in different areas
  • Key stakeholders - people who may have a say in your workplace success or who can promote your ideas or projects

Outside the workplace - a business does not exist in a bubble. Building relationships of trust and open communication with people outside the workplace keeps the lines of opportunity open. Develop good relationships with:

  • Customers and clients
  • Ancillary or support services
  • Similar businesses or organisations
  • Government departments

Students might ask how any of this helps.

The answer is that the world of work is a huge network of observation and opportunity. Everybody has a service to provide or a product to sell, and likewise, everybody needs products and services.

Developing quality relationships means that this enormous network of business, products and services runs smoothly. It also ensures:

  • The success of projects
  • The scrutiny of ideas
  • The sharing of knowledge
  • The movement of people
  • The resolving of issues
  • The advancement of careers
  • The improvement of people’s lives

HOW are quality work relationships nurtured?

Nurturing quality relationships is really down to commonsense. The following simple reminders are good habits for students to start developing now.

Common courtesy - it takes no time or effort for a simple smile. Acknowledge people for the work they do and the help they provide. Good manners, a simple ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ are appreciated but sometimes forgotten in the rush of the day.

Good personal habits - using the same rule of thumb in the workplace as living with roommates, it is important to maintain good personal and hygiene habits in a close work situation. Simple things such as coming to work in clean clothing, not drinking directly from the communal milk carton, or replacing the empty toilet role goes a long way towards workplace harmony.

Effective communication - discover the communication preferences of colleagues and clients. Some people appreciate direct contact, personally or over the phone, others prefer to work with email or text message



  • Answer questions promptly
  • Follow up if need be

Remember email etiquette

  • Have a helpful subject line
  • Stay concise and on topic
  • Only CC people who need to be ‘in the loop’
  • Don’t start a new conversation in reply to previous emails (this can be confusing)

Respect other people’s time - let’s face it, the workplace is busy.

  • Try not to waste time on idle chatter if it is obvious people have work to do
  • Conduct business at the appropriate time and place (it’s not a good idea to make work requests in the corridor, the rest room or at a party!)
  • Don’t interrupt colleagues when they are with somebody else - it is just plain rude
  • Leave people in peace about work when they are taking their well-earned lunch break

Help yourself - don’t bombard colleagues with constant questions and problems. If you are able to sort something out yourself, try to do so. In saying that, however, some things are best left to the experts or referred on. Get permission if it is required. Commonsense goes a long way.

Treat everybody equally - with respect and courtesy. Everybody has something to give, a role to play and a story to tell.

Avoid gossip and office politics - don’t damage your reputation. Gossiping about colleagues is unprofessional and causes mistrust and animosity. Remain friendly and neutral. If you have to vent do so at home or with a trusted friend away from the workplace. The work climate can change quickly and people have long memories.

Use caution with social media - maintain your personal integrity on social media. Respectful relationships with work colleagues include respect on public forums.

Welcome new people - quality work relationships begin with a warm welcome. Newcomers appreciate support and encouragement when they start in order to gain the confidence to become valuable team members.

Take the time and make the effort to nurture your relationship with your work colleagues.

Effective teamwork is necessary for an effective workplace. This is why most employers are keen to recruit people with proven cooperative and teamwork skills. If students go into the workplace with the right attitude and an understanding of how to nurture quality work relationships, teamwork should hardly be a problem!

  • Promotes ownership and builds loyalty and pride
  • Fosters creativity and combines the different perspectives of colleagues
  • Encourages healthy risk-taking as team members share ideas and responsibilities
  • Builds on the complementary strengths and talents of team members
  • Encourages and refines conflict resolution skills
  • Establishes a foundation of communication and trust
  • Turns knowledge and ideas into results

Great teams get results! A workplace where employees work effectively in teams is more often a positive environment with greater job satisfaction and better productivity. It’s a win-win situation!

Developing teamwork skills

Although the specific skills of teamwork are not always taught, young people can draw and reflect upon their experiences (both positive and negative) of times they have worked with others at school or in the community. Working with others takes practise and compromise and although some students may prefer to work alone, being an effective team player is a highly valued skill.

How to be an effective team member

Remembering and practising a few key points when working as part of a team will help students become more effective team members.

Recognise the role

  • This may be a combination of roles
  • Understand the value of other team members’ roles
  • Work towards a common goal

Know the team

  • Take the time
  • Develop relationships
  • Understand strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes of others

Take turns

  • Each team member needs to be heard
  • Actively listen to understand what is being said
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Acknowledge all contributions
  • Share information, knowledge and experience

Use the language of ‘WE’

  • Remain inclusive
  • Remain non-confrontational

Contribute positive feedback

  • Encourage team members
  • Keep a positive mindset
  • Speak up and engage
  • Offer suggestions and solutions
  • Be constructive

Be reliable

  • Show commitment
  • Be on time
  • Be flexible and step in for someone else if needed

Treat others well

  • Be respectful and supportive
  • Cooperate
  • Don’t raise your voice or be defensive
  • Constructive criticism is acceptable - personal attacks are unacceptable
When working in teams, people take on different roles. These roles may be delegated, but sometimes a person’s natural skills come to the fore. These roles can vary, depending on the discussion or the project in place. A good team allows for a natural fluidity in roles with all members of the team finding their place.


  • Keeps the team motivated
  • Includes all members
  • Makes suggestions
  • Tackles the big issues
  • Keeps the discussion or project rolling


  • Is diplomatic
  • Listens carefully to all views
  • Encourages the participation of shy members
  • Has the ability to resolve conflict


  • Is results driven and competitive
  • Coordinates tasks
  • Utilises the strengths of all members
  • Keeps things on track
  • Can be domineering but gets the job done


  • Clarifies the objectives
  • Elaborates on the ideas of others
  • Mediates
  • Brings it all together

Ideas person

  • Offers creative suggestions
  • Presents alternative ideas
  • Is concerned more with the big picture than the details


  • Is analytical, logical and objective
  • Takes the time to think through ideas
  • Evaluates different proposals
  • Contributes to crucial decisions


  • Keeps others organised
  • Allocates tasks and responsibilities
  • Takes notes, records ideas and decisions
  • Is the time keeper

And finally the team must:

  • Have clear and realistic objectives on what needs to be achieved
  • Allocate specific roles for members (if necessary or appropriate)
  • Establish a time frame for the completion of the task or project
  • Establish a means of communication and regular meet up times
  • Keep a record of group decisions
As we have seen, fostering quality work relationships involves common courtesies, respect and good personal habits. In other words, it calls for etiquette - the simple rules of socially acceptable behavior. Although codes of etiquette vary in a range of contexts (you wouldn’t behave in the boardroom as you would at a family barbecue), most codes of etiquette are based on three simple principles:
  • Respect
  • Consideration
  • Honesty

Workplace etiquette differs across workplaces and also across cultures. Much of it is based on commonsense, and some was covered in ‘Quality Work Relationships’. Those of us with life experience have acquired the skills to quickly adapt to accepted behaviours in the context of different workplaces. These skills eventually become second nature, but for young people new to the workforce, they need to be learned.

So how does a young worker, new to the workplace, learn about workplace etiquette?

  • Use commonsense and manners
  • Take the time to observe interactions between colleagues
  • Take the lead from other employees
  • Read those little notes placed above the sink or on the fridge in the workplace kitchen
  • Do the right thing
  • If unsure - ask!

With your students, brainstorm a list of tips on classroom etiquette. These can be serious or humorous.

Discuss the reasons for each of the tips your class comes up with, and the possible consequences in the classroom of ignoring this etiquette.

(If the class is large, divide them into smaller groups)

Discuss the reasons it is necessary to follow certain codes of behaviour at school, in the workplace and in society.

Extension Design an eye-catching classroom poster on classroom etiquette.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Avoid making phone calls during class

Mind your manners

Don’t spray strong perfumes or deodorants in the classroom

Take care of your personal hygiene

Don’t steal other people’s lunches or snacks

Avoid interrupting or talking over classmates

Keep your desk or locker tidy

Stay off social media during lessons

Respect other people’s personal space

Hand in your homework on time

In this context, a challenge is something that tests a person’s abilities, patience or resolve. The workplace is not always one of smooth sailing. Considering the time spent, the tasks undertaken and the characters involved, the workplace can be filled with challenges.

The better-informed young people are of the challenges they will face, the better prepared they will be to meet these challenges head-on. Students are more than likely to have met many of these challenges already. Finding a trusted work colleague or mentor to confide in will often help.

A new workplace is not only daunting for young people entering the workforce for the first time, but also for more seasoned employees starting a new job.

Fitting in - take the time to get to know your coworkers. Be friendly and polite. Ask questions, listen and contribute thoughtfully. Don’t engage in office politics or gossip but instead show how professional you can be.

Being acknowledged - when new to the workplace it takes time to gain the respect and trust of colleagues. Be patient. Don’t be too pushy but take an interest. Listen and observe what is going on around you before making suggestions and you will soon have the chance to share your knowledge and ideas.

Mistakes - these are inevitable, especially in a new setting, so don’t dwell on them. Mistakes happen, own up, apologise, offer solutions, learn and move on.

Time-management - there is so much to learn and remember in a new job that adjusting to unfamiliar tasks and routines can be difficult. Make notes, list priorities, and ask for help if you need it. In time you will be more efficient.

Problems with work colleagues

More often than not people work well together, however at some stage of their working life students will face tensions with colleagues. This is bound to happen with so many personalities in the one place. Although some character types are easier to avoid, in a workplace this isn’t always possible.

Make sure you are not labelled as one of these!

The Work Avoider

This person avoids tasks or completing tasks. They will often pass work on to other colleagues.

Effect: A poor work effort from one of the team can lower productivity, affect other people’s job performance and cause resentment in the workplace.


  • Explain to the ‘avoider’ the repercussions of their actions on your own work
  • Concentrate on doing your own job properly
  • Politely refuse tasks given to you by this person, unless he/she is your direct supervisor

The Ill-tempered colleague

This person often makes a game of being obnoxious, churlish and argumentative with colleagues

Effect: Having an ill-tempered colleague of this sort can make the workplace atmosphere tense and unpleasant for everybody.


  • Avoid this person if you can
  • Remain pleasant and don’t get into arguments
  • Talk calmly about how this behaviour makes you feel, but remember it might make no difference

The Troublemaker

This colleague delights in spreading gossip and stirring up trouble.


This nuisance causes disruption and miss understanding in the work place. Gossip can be malicious and hurtful.

Action :

  • Don’t engage and add fuel to their fire
  • Remain friendly but busy yourself whenever they are around

The Backstabber

The person works quietly behind the scenes, withholding information or spreading rumours to discredit people they see as their rivals.

Effect: The backstabber will disrupt another person’s career goals and reputation, and cause an atmosphere of distrust in the workplace.


  • Be careful and don’t play the same games
  • Confront this person calmly if you need to
  • Get the support of a trusted colleague
  • Make sure you get the credit you deserve for your ideas and achievements
  • Check that your supervisor or boss is satisfied with your work performance

The Complainer

This colleague will always find a worry or a complaint about something in the workplace.

Effect: The complainer’s negative attitude can bring down workplace morale.


  • Detach yourself from this person and their problems and complaints
  • Empathise but encourage them to sort things out for themselves
  • Remain positive
  • Concentrate on your own work

The Bully

The bully will focus on intimidating the colleagues they see as an easy target or threat.

Effect: The targets of bullying often suffer stress, anxiety and the feeling of powerlessness. Both the short- and long-term effects of bullying can be serious.


  • Don’t tolerate bullying or let it get out of hand
  • Remain calm and positive and stand up for yourself
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated
  • Keep a record of the bullying behaviour
  • Seek the support of a trusted colleague or mentor
  • If bullying continues, report it. There are workplace policies on bullying, so follow the necessary channels.

Issues of ethics and integrity

Sometimes an employee may be asked to do something that compromises their principles or integrity.

Effect: It is difficult to retain your self-respect, or regain the respect of others, after your integrity has been compromised.


  • Decline any requests that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Speak to a mentor or trusted person with any concerns
  • Seek advice if something is unethical or illegal

Discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and if not resolved, can carry serious penalties. All employees in Australia are protected by the Fair Work Act 2009, which states unlawful workforce discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse action against a person because of:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Sex
  • Sexual preference
  • Age
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Marital status
  • Family or carer’s responsibilities
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Political opinion
  • National extraction or social origin

An action taken by an employer is adverse or unlawful if it is taken for a discriminatory reason and includes doing, threatening or organising:

  • Dismissing an employee
  • Injuring an employee in their employment
  • Altering an employee’s position to their detriment
  • Discriminating between one employee and other employees
  • Refusing to employ a prospective employee
  • Discriminating against a prospective employee on the terms and conditions in the offer of employment.

If students have any concerns that they are being or have been unfairly discriminated against in the workplace, they can seek advice from the

Fair Work Ombudsman:

Workplace Gender Equality (Australian Government website)

Australian Human Rights Commission

Information for students on Human Rights, Disability Rights, sexual harassment, bullying, cyber bullying and harassment. (Get Informed, Get Involved, Get Help) Fact Sheets are also available for the educator.

An effective workplace is one in which all of the elements covered in this module align. It is a place where:

  • Roles are understood
  • Workplace rights and responsibilities are met by both employers and employees
  • The shared values of employees align with those of the company or organisation
  • Attitudes and actions overcome challenges and foster quality work relationships
  • All employees work towards a common goal in an environment that is engaging and supportive

An effective workplace benefits employees because it offers them:

Opportunity - to express creativity, for learning and to perform a variety of tasks.

Autonomy - to have input into ideas and decisions regarding the job.

Trust - to have a workplace culture of trust and integrity.

Support - recognition of their achievements, advice, guidance and feedback from colleagues and supervisors.

Balance and flexibility - to enjoy work life and home life, and manage other responsibilities.

Benefits - in earnings and opportunities for advancement

An effective workplace benefits employers because:

  • The workplace is more productive
  • Fewer sick days are taken
  • There is better staff retention
  • Happy staff = a more successful business

So why do students need to know all of this?

Unfortunately, not all of the workplaces that students experience throughout their lives will be ideal. However, if they are aware of what constitutes an effective workplace, they will at least be able to identify opportunities or the situations to avoid. Perhaps they may even be a catalyst for positive change.

For centuries people have kept journals or diaries to record their experiences, thoughts and insights. Some people journal specific projects or life events, others journal the day-to-day happenings of their existence. Journaling not only helps to focus the mind, but also to make some sense of life. Many successful people make a habit of journaling their workdays, and their careers benefit from this.

Workdays can be so busy that it is easy to become bogged down in the minutiae. We often forget to take the time to stop and reflect on our experiences. Keeping a workplace journal is a good

  • Plan time effectively
  • Improve focus
  • Keep track of progress
  • Make decisions
  • Listen more carefully
  • Stay motivated
  • Gain perspective
  • Make improvements
  • Celebrate the wins (large and small)

Workplace journaling allows a person to look at the big picture of their job, consider the niggling little things that are holding them back, put things into perspective, and plan the direction of their career. It need only take five or ten minutes at the end of each work day, or a few minutes more at the end of the working week.

Journal prompts

Developing a set of questions or prompts will help to avoid sitting in front of a blank page or screen. Here are just a few ideas:

  • What stood out about the day?
  • What have I accomplished or achieved?
  • Have I had any compliments or feedback and how can I use them?
  • Have there been any setbacks or negatives? How can I fix or avoid these?
  • What lessons have I learned?
  • What can I aim for tomorrow?

Encourage students to get into the journaling habit now - for school, work or a particular project. It is sure to benefit their work habits and give them valuable insight. And who knows - it might just be fun!


Remind students that walking into a new workplace and expecting immediate acclaim and promotion will only get colleagues offside, and perhaps even destroy their chances of being taken seriously. They could have great ideas, and maybe even some talent, but it takes a lot of time to develop skills and learn the ropes.


  • Things take time - you have time so be patient
  • Be alert to opportunity
  • Remain flexible and open-minded
  • Ask questions
  • Although you have a lot to give, you also have a lot to learn
  • Learn from the experience of others
If your students are studying under the Australian Curriculum, this activity will get them thinking about how the General Capabilities relate to the skills they have developed throughout each module, how they are relevant to their own personal and learning goals, and how they can carry them into the workforce.