Five work lessons we can learn from penguins

Five work lessons we can learn from penguins
20 January 2020    Donnay Torr    0 comments
No, we are not joking. Penguins are awesome. And wise. And since it is International Penguin Awareness Day today, we’d like to pay our respects to these beloved birds by delving into how penguins would use their natural skills and attributes to get to grips with the working world.

Look the part

Penguins have perfected the art of being effortlessly stylish, what with their nattily tuxedoed bodies and unique personal touches (such as the Fiordland Penguin’s impressive “eyebrows’ and the King Penguin’s on-fleek yellow cheeks). They’re also rather fond of grooming: penguins bathe a lot, especially with other penguins, and will have races to get to the water first. (We don’t necessarily recommend this as proper workplace behaviour, though.)

What can you learn?

  • When you show up for work or job interviews, dress the part: make sure your clothes are neat, clean and appropriate for the workplace.
  • Make sure your personal hygiene is up to scratch: take a shower, brush your teeth and hair, and use some deodorant!
Find more tips on proper workplace clothes here and here.

Better than a cold shower?

Support your team

Penguins live in extremely harsh conditions, and if they don’t work together, they’ll struggle to survive. That’s why they live in “villages” called rookeries, which makes it easier to protect each other against predators and huddle together to keep warm when the temperatures drop crazy low. Makes sense, especially if incubating eggs and raising cute chicks is an important consideration!

What can you learn?

The workplace can be a battlefield, and your team is your first line of defence! This means working together, taking responsibility for your own actions and focusing on the end goal to become an efficient unit. Focus on doing your job well, being accountable, and reaching out to other team members to support them when needed. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to like everyone you work with, but do try to respect them, because you all have a role to fulfil. And losing your way might mean a leopard seal eating you for lunch. (Aka your angry boss wanting to know why a deadline wasn’t met…)

There’s always the one risk taker...
Need advice on having conversations with difficult colleagues? Find tips here.


Penguins are noisy birds. To us, it might sound like random screechy noises (we’re looking at you, balcony cockatoo…), but they’re actually constantly communicating various things to each other, such as “I love you”, “Let’s take a communal bath”, “Leopard seal at three o’ clock!”, “Fish for dinner again?”, “Where did Junior waddle off to?!” and “No, tap-dancing is NOT a suitable job for a penguin!”

What can you learn?

Effective communication is crucial in any workplace, and an important “soft skill” that all employers treasure. It’s really important to learn how to actively listen to what your team members are saying and then make your own points in an effective, thought-through way. Good communication skills is sought after in all industries, and one way of keeping ahead of the pack.

Interpretive dance for “Frank, you totally microwaved tuna again, didn’t you...“
We’ve got some tips on how to find your inner voice here, and also more info about the soft skills that can future-proof your career here


Penguins rely on their extended family to keep safe and thrive, sometimes even going on epic treks together in weather conditions that would send chills up your spine and shatter your brain if you were to try it. They survive because of other penguins.

What can you learn?

Building a good support network is important, both in life and in work. In the workplace, effective networking means building up a trusted support network of colleagues, mentors or like-minded people (either in your workplace or in other businesses), and leveraging them to help you grow and succeed in your career. They could give you a heads’ up when a new position opens up, help you out with some good advice when times are tough, or even introduce you to someone who could make a big difference to your career. Just remember, though: good networking is about giving just as much as receiving: don’t just take, but give back and lend a helping hand to your network when they need it.

Networking 101: reach out. (Don’t bite.)

Relax and play when you can

They may look serious, but penguins can be real goofs! They love to gather with friends and family to just hang out and play ridiculous penguin games. For real, though. Google “penguins playing”!

What can you learn?

Basically, that all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. Yes, work is serious business and can be tough sometimes – but if you’re in the right job it should also be an environment that recharges and energises you. If not all the time, at least every now and then! Take time out to bond with your team, have some fun in the office, and remember that you should work to live, not live to work.

Getting jiggy.
Main image by Ian Parker on Unsplash
Gifs via  

Thinking about getting a job, but not sure what would suit you? Check out our free Job Fit Test below, designed to give you insight into which jobs will suit your natural skills, and where you might need to improve to ace the career you want!

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