Congratulations! You’ve got someone new joining your team. If you’ve made it past the welcome stage safely, you may be wondering how you can help your new teammate to open up and get comfortable in their new environment. How do you get them to release some of those first-week jitters and ease them in to your company culture in a way that keeps them interested and invested in your company? Awesome onboarding icebreakers, of course!
Here are few of our personal favorites to get you started:
1. Two Truths and a Lie
Have each employee share two truths about themselves and one lie. The rest of the team then needs to use their super-sleuth skills to ferret out the lie. Have a big group? Put people in teams of three. Two people will tell the truth, and one person will tell a lie. Pit team against team tournament style for an added challenge, and may the best guessers win!
2. Would You Rather?
Get the gang together, push back the furniture, and run some tape straight down the middle of the floor. Mark one side of the tape as Option A, and the other side as Option B. Now the fun begins! Fire off some questions— e.g., would you rather A) read the book or B) see the movie? — and have employees jump to the side they prefer. This game gets people up and moving, sparks some hilarious debate, and makes it easy for new people to find common interests or talking points with their teammates.
3. M&M Mayhem
Separate a bag of M&M’s by color and place them in color-coordinating cups. Each M&M color represents a question- e.g., favorite TV show that you’re watching right now, the last song/ genre of music you listened to, why you decided to join the company, etc. Make sure that you have one M&M of each color for each teammate who’ll participate in the game. Gather everyone together and pass out the cups. Have each employee think of the answer to the question written on their cup, and start the clock! Employees have 15 minutes to swap answers to the questions represented by each M&M. The first person to collect all the colors, and accurately recite everyone’s answers, wins!
4. Movie Buff Ball
Honestly, I really want to try this the next time we have a new hire. Our office has so many movie buffs! The game is simple. Throw a ball around a circle (Note: the bigger the better for those of us who can’t catch). Whoever catches the ball has five seconds to say the name of a movie. Repeat a movie title, and you’re out. Want a bigger challenge? Limit the movie to a single genera and watch the struggle, or make people list movies in alphabetical order.
5. People Bingo
This one requires a bit of setup, but it’s an easy way to get people talking. Make a bingo card with squares that say things like “Someone in the department” “Someone who gardens,” and “Someone with more than 3 pets.”
Employees then need to find someone who matches the description and write the name of the person next to the square. The first person to make bingo wins! It’s a way to get employees introduced to the team, and they can have a physical reminder of some fun/ interesting facts about teammates when the game’s over.
6. Did you just say…?
Give each of the team members a wearable party-favor (think boas, leis, beads, etc.) as well as a slip of paper with a word that, from that moment on, they cannot say for the rest of the meeting/ work day. If someone catches them saying the word, they have to give up their party favor.
Tricking employees into saying the taboo word is A-OK, and the one with the most favors at the end wins. I love this game because it makes people think of what they say and how they say it, and also encourages teammates to listen more closely to what their coworkers have to say.
Split into two teams, and give each member of the team one of the images from the book. These images, when placed together correctly, create a sequential story. The teams have 15 minutes to build the correct sequence. Here’s the kicker though- you can’t show your image to anyone. You need to rely on your communication skills and teamwork to build the correct sequence.
Think your team has it? Stop the timer and flip the images. If the sequence is correct, you win. If it’s wrong, the other team has a chance to finish planning their sequence for the big reveal. This game is a great way to test communication skills, problem solving, and time management. We did it as a company, and had an absolute blast!