How To Make Day One Count

How we handle onboarding at CharlieHR.

So you’ve finally found a candidate that’s the perfect fit? It can take many months of effort and involvement from people across the business, so is no small feat! A candidate you’re passionate about, and that you want to work with. You’ve even managed to convince them that you’re the right place for them to plot their future. So they accept. And then all organisation, thought, planning and process goes out the window…

Why, oh why, do so many of us get onboarding so wrong?

Nailing onboarding can be the difference between success or disaster for a new team member. Here’s how we try to get it right:

The Devil’s In The Details

Before that new starter walks through your doors for the first time, there are the small details to iron out. Contracts to sign, P45’s to collect and start dates to be confirmed. The list continues. And while these can feel like pointless and time-consuming admin tasks, they’re still important. No new starter should have to wait for a start date. Or be asked a million times for information they’ve already sent through. Cue the question:“did we get a copy of their passport?”

We try to be…

  1. Clear in our communication — only commit to hiring someone if you can commit to a start date.
  2. Organised about the information we collect from new starters. We even built CharlieHR to make that process seamless!
  3. Clear about who’s communicating what and when with the new starter. There’s nothing worse than getting multiple emails from different people asking for the same thing!

Perfect Preparation

The journey begins before day one, and so it should. A new starter who feels prepared for what they’re about to experience is always more comfortable. This sets them up to get going with their new role much faster than if they’re kept in the dark.

We try to focus on a few areas before day one:

  1. Make sure they understand the company and its values. Get them a copy of any handbooks, blogs or books that will help them in this. Remember to mention details such as expected working hours and dress code where applicable.
  2. Expectations around their role and responsibility. We try to send out a copy of their role doc in advance, so they know what’s expected of them. Be clear about who they should reach out to if they have any questions before their first day.
  3. What their first week is going to look like. Put together a timetable of meetings and tasks. Consider who they’re going to be talking to and what they’re going to be doing with their time. Show them that you’ve put care into preparing for their arrival, and that you value them choosing you over others!

This clarity around expectations gives new starters the space to get excited. No matter their seniority, starting a new role is a huge and nerve-wracking moment. It is the company’s responsibility to reassure them that they’ve made a great choice!

They’re Not Alone

It’s easy to feel isolated when joining a new team. It can feel cliquey and hard to break in. Especially where there are strong friendships and relationships around you. But this responsibility shouldn’t lie only with their team leader, or those they’ll be working closest with. Ensuring someone feels included and involved is everyone’s responsibility. Be it inviting that new starter out for lunch, or asking them if they want a cup of tea or coffee. We were all new once, so it’s worth remembering how your own first day felt!

We do a few things to ease that journey:

  1. Ensure the whole company is aware of who’s starting and when. Share links to social media profiles in advance so everyone can have a nice little stalk and, more importantly, knows who to look out for so they can give them a great welcome!
  2. Invite them to a team social or drink before they start. You’ll have broken most of the ice if they’ve met and chatted to the team already!
  3. Make it personal. Have a card signed by the whole team sitting on their desk when they arrive, as well something relevant to them specifically. E.g. a book recommended by their new Team Lead.
  4. Have someone meet them at a local coffee shop on their first day. It can be hard to walk into a new office on your own for the first time, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Give them someone to stand by their side!
  5. Allocate them to a buddy/mentor, ideally in a different part of the business. Encouraging inter-company relationships with those who don’t work directly with each other is great for building a connected and open culture.

Everyone reacts differently to starting a new job, so expect each onboarding to also be different. Prepare to adjust the process slightly, depending on the individual. As with everything we do, asking for feedback on a new starter’s experience is vital.


There are two days we always remember from the roles we take throughout our lives: our first and our last. By making sure we give new starters the best possible first day they’ve ever experienced, we’re setting the tone for what’s to come, and ensuring that their last day doesn’t rear its ugly head too soon!

After all, first impressions are everything…

CharlieHR is the HR software for small businesses. Building a company is hard, running one shouldn’t be. Find out more here.

Neo Sepulveda

Neo Sepulveda

Software engineer at CharlieHR 💻. I like climbing things quite a bit 🐒.

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