UK Workers share their worst ‘First Day at Work’ nightmares

While almost everyone knows that first impressions count, a poll of almost 3000 UK workers reveals that those all-important first days at work don’t always go to plan.

Whether it’s forgetting your new boss’s name, arriving late, wearing the wrong clothes or even bumping your new colleague’s car in the company car park, it seems lots of Brits have made cringe-worthy impressions, and will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.


If it’s happened to you, you can at least take heart that you aren’t alone – almost half of respondents admitted they’d had a terrible first day at a new job, although 95% of them were aware of the importance of making a good first impression on others.

Here’s just some of the common experiences respondents shared:

  • turning up hopelessly under or over dressed
  • being openly told they weren’t the employers ‘first choice’
  • arriving late on their first day
  • accidentally sent a sensitive email as a ‘staff all’
  • spilling drinks everywhere
  • saying the company or colleagues names wrong

Getting the clothing right seems to be expecially important , with more than three quarters (82%) of respondents saying they believed getting their clothing right was likely to make a positive impact on their first day – for example, finding themselves the only one wearing a tie, or the only one not wearing one was unsettling for employees who just wanted to fit in from day one.

The research was commissioned by 4imprint, as part of its ‘First Impressions’ campaign.  The company have recently released a new range of corporate workwear, which they hope will help UK organisations and their employees give the right impression to their customers – and each other.

A spokesperson for 4imprint, said:

“Starting a new job can be intimidating for a variety of reasons. From not knowing who you’ll be working with, not being 100% sure how to get to your new workplace and worries over what to wear can make for a nerve-wracking first day.

“Our study found the importance of what you wear to work can make you feel as comfortable as possible on a first day and help create a great first impression.”

According to the survey, workers admitted to having turned up on their first day either being wildly under or overdressed.

More than seven in 10 employees (72%) wish they had a uniform for work, claiming it would have made their first day – and consequently first impressions – easier to manage.

Other first-day nightmares to appear in the top 30 list include finding there was no allocated desk or computer to work at and being late due to nasty traffic.

Having a wardrobe malfunction and accidentally sending a sensitive email as a ‘staff all’ also feature in the list.

Meanwhile, one in three British workers have been introduced to someone on day one at work, then immediately forgotten their name.

One fifth have also been so nervous they’ve ended up blurting out something inappropriate or stupid – leading to quizzical looks from colleagues.

While others have accidently damaged company property, been over-friendly and had to ask how to turn the computer on.

However, those who excelled on their first day put it down to being fully prepared and sufficiently knowledgeable about the company.
And when it comes to making a good impression, 58% say arriving early works wonders while 57% cent try to ask intelligent questions.

The spokesperson for 4imprint, added: “A decision can be made about a person within 26 seconds of meeting them – which is why appearance is so important.

“Corporate work wear can provide reassurance to new starters and if your organisation operates in the service or retail sector then staff uniforms can also be vitally important for customers.”