by Heidi Bishop, Senior HR Consultant, EastCoast HR Group.

Congratulations to first timers entering the workforce in 2017 and welcome to the reality of gainful employment for the next 40 plus years!

A few of us in the office were chatting about how exciting it is for graduates of 2016 embarking on their careers and joining the workforce for the very first time. We then started to reminisce about our own first day at work. It quickly escalated into much hilarity and might I add horror!

So amongst the standout experiences we had included being handed on the first day of work an Olivetti typewriter along with an ashtray (because you could smoke at your desk). Being given instruction regarding the latest office technology of a telex machine, a microfiche viewer, a franking machine and a switch board with about three million buttons on it! The most discussed topic in any business around the water cooler (sorry no coffee machines in any workplace back then) was the much hyped and anticipated looming event of ‘Y2K’. This was the biggest threat to life and society as we knew it and thankfully in hindsight the huge investments in IT projects was worth the effort and every cent when the clock ticked over into a new millennia and nothing happened not even a flicker, hint of a buffer or twitch.

Don’t get us started about office standards back then. Compulsory stockings (mid-summer in Queensland mind you), no trousers were allowed as part of the uniform for women – skirts only, if you wanted to partake of tea and coffee in the office you had to throw your $2 into the hat to self -fund the tin of international roast and constantly argue about who used the last of the milk. All staff who were more senior than you were addressed as Mr and Mrs (insert surname). There was no use of first names – no one dreamt of being so disrespectful. We even fulfilled jobs with titles like ‘Girl Friday’ at an accounting firm which involved accounting for every minute of every day (oh the humanity) doing all sorts of menial tasks and charging clients for the privilege of receiving their hand typed bill.

The perks by comparison were certainly laid out in large organisations. They were ahead of their time in terms of being an ‘employer of choice’ they had tea ladies with trolleys that would come past your desk to make you a beverage. There were cafeterias on level 12 with discounted gourmet meals of pie and chips, roast of the day and bangers and mash all lovingly prepared onsite by cooks resplendent in their hair nets and white overcoats.

Pay day was a much anticipated event, your little pay envelope would be handed out with even littler cash contents – $96 for a week’s work was the stuff of fantasy, so much money to spend all at once! However you had to be organised to spend your pay, there was no Saturday afternoon or Sunday trading, the opening times for service stations would be advertised in the newspaper for the odd weekend they were allowed to open, and RSI (repetitive strain injury) was a massive epidemic from using those fancy cash registers to key in hand labelled price tags on every grocery item. We do have a reigning champion ‘fastest register operator’ amongst our team!!

Good times people, good times.

Whilst a lot of what we laughed over has thankfully disappeared from current workplaces, there are still things that remain like working hard, pulling together as a team, embracing change and creating a positive place to spend more than 8 hours of your life with your co-workers and a sense of achievement at the end of every day.

There are many more expectations on employers and workplaces these days than ‘back in the day’ and it is always a wise investment to keep up with change. There have been more changes in the Australian industrial relations landscape in the last 10 years than the previous 100 years.

Here at EastCoast Human Resource Group, we have you covered through our range of services and value add offerings from end to end recruitment, outsourced payroll services, talent management, temporary labour hire, human resource advice, HR policy and performance frameworks through to coaching, training and mentoring.

So if you are looking to inform yourself about your employer obligations in 2017, attend one of our Masterclasses encompassing valuable subject matter such as – Employment Relations 101, Recruitment, Everyday Human Resources Conversations, Managing Workplace Behaviour and Risk and Managing Mental Health in the Workplace – what you need to know.

For more information or to register your interest in any of our services please call us on (07) 5443 6022 or visit

We’d also love to hear your stories related to your first experiences in the workforce!