HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Tips for young workers to thrive in the workplace

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read

Entering the workplace can be daunting, especially for those wanting to make a mark. Here are some tips for thriving in the workplace.

Thriving in the workplace can be a difficult goal for workers of all ages and all experiences, but it’s extra difficult for young workers who often have that lack of experience and don’t have that extensive workplace background to fall back on.

HR Leader recently spoke to Sonia McDonald, chief executive and founder of LeadershipHQ, about how young job starters can make their presence felt and make a good impression throughout their workplace.


McDonald believes that the key for young employees is gaining an understanding of how their organisation operates.

“I think the key to thriving in the workplace is getting to know the organisation and their strategy and their culture. So, getting to know the organisation's culture, for instance, what's our mission, vision and values as an organisation? I think if you're able to work at that and talk about that, then it will make a huge difference.”

“I think what you can do in terms of self-growth and self-awareness is keep learning, so sharpen your saw and keep learning,” said McDonald.

Active learning is imperative to understand the culture of the organisation that you are working in. Many young employees tend to shy away from that kind of action, which often puts them on the back foot early in developing within their role.

“It’s about turning up and being your best self. What does that look like? It looks like coming to work and being your best self, adjusting, and having a lot of integrity and enthusiasm for what you do… Always see the learning in it. Always go, ‘What can I learn from this organisation or job?’ Just be a sponge.

Being assertive in your role is also key. Asking colleagues or teammates if they need assistance with any tasks can prove to be extremely valuable, as it shows that you have initiative and a desire to achieve. Building relationships with your colleagues is extremely vital also.

“Ask your team, what can I do to help you? Is there anything I can do to help you? Get to know your team, get to know your team members, get to know what they like to do on the weekends or what motivates them.

“So, ask them questions and go, ‘Hey, how was your weekend?’ Therefore you're connecting with them. Then every time you do see them, ‘Oh, did you play soccer on the weekend or did you do pottery?’ If you get to know what's important to them, what they like doing outside of work, that's great,” said McDonald.

As well as building relationships, building trust is one of the most important considerations for young employees.

“In terms of building trust. Trust is everything. Get to know what is important to your manager, what could be their challenges, and what they need again, and ask them how you can help them as well. So, I think it's coming into anything with a growth mindset, learning as much as you can, offering help, asking to help, getting to know your team members and coming in as your best self.”

These tools and advice can help catapult young employees over those nerves and that lack of decisiveness, and instead can implement themselves and begin to thrive in their workplace. At the end of the day, young employees have to back themselves and build that trust throughout the organisation. If they do that, the thriving will sort itself out.

“Trusting yourself, building trust with others, and admitting mistakes is crucial. So how you build trust is if you do make a mistake, go, ‘Hey, I stuffed up, I'm going to admit it.’ I think it's showing vulnerability. I think all those things are really important,” concluded McDonald.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Sonia McDonald, click below:



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.