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7 Onboarding Ice Breakers for New Team Members to Integrate and Build Connections

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

7 Onboarding Ice Breakers for New Team Members to Integrate and Build Connections

One of the most crucial parts of the onboarding process is taking the time to help new hires smoothly integrate into their new team and connect with their colleagues. This includes both work-related training as well as a process of personal familiarization, trust-building, and socialization. Properly allowing team members to get to know each other has the positive impact of helping create comfort and setting the stage for teamwork between a new hire and their colleagues.

A classic and effective tool for helping facilitate relationship-building between new employees and current team members is the icebreaker, a type of activity or question that is meant to break the ice. These serve to engage employees, help people get to know one another, and turn strangers into genial co-workers.

‍This article offers ideas for a few different icebreakers that you can do as part of your employee onboarding process. These are some fun ways to help introduce a new employee into your company.

What are Icebreakers? ‍

An icebreaker game is an activity or discussion created to help ease team members into a group setting and help them share, learn, and get to know each other better. Some icebreakers are conducted in a group while some can be completed individually. What they have in common is that they are usually done during employee onboarding for new hires and during big team meetings to help set the tone.

‍There are no rules when it comes to selecting the proper new hire orientation icebreakers and challenges. Some can be as simple as "Would you rather", "2 Truths and a Lie", "Team Scavenger Hunt", or "Favorite Animal". Some icebreakers may involve physical activity while others are just mental and consist of discussion. Regardless of which icebreakers you choose, they all help promote team bonding and collaboration between groups.

How Icebreaker Games Help Strengthen Team Members

‍Icebreaker games help lighten the atmosphere, boost camaraderie, and provide team members with a fun venue to share their thoughts, likes, dislikes, and unique characteristics. Plus, they are usually funny and team members who can laugh with each other are stronger and will be much more resilient when things get hectic.

Plus, icebreakers aren't just employees and employee engagement. They can also be an important tool for the company. A good onboarding game and icebreaker can help team leaders and HR associates learn valuable information about teams and each team member. This information can be stored and used for future reference.

7 Fun Icebreakers for Employee Onboarding

‍There are several fun onboarding icebreakers to choose from but the best ones are the ones where new hires get to share information about themselves and employees and teams get to know each other better. Here are some fun games and activities you can try:

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This icebreaker activity is classic and effective. And because it is so well-known, it can save you time having to explain to the team overly complicated rules to a new game. The process is simple: every player goes around and names three facts or tells three stories. Two will be true and one will be a lie. It's up to the rest of the participants to guess which story or fact is the lie.

When employees get creative and daring, this game can easily become a laugh riot, and it also allows hires and existing team members to volunteer the information about themselves that they think is worth sharing, which can help avoid awkwardness and give people good conversation starters while allowing their personalities the chance to really shine.

Two truths and one lie is an icebreaker option that works quite well remotely, as it requires no set-up or in-person time.

2. Would You Rather?

Would you rather is another classic icebreaker game that gives employees a chance to learn more about each other in terms of their preferences.

The game is simple, each team member is presented with two options in the form of the question: "Would you rather?" and they select which option suits them. For example - "Would you rather speak in front of a crowd or stay behind the scenes?"

Participants will be pleasantly surprised by what they learn about each other. And best of all, once employees get warmed up they usually come up with hilarious either-or scenarios that promote good conversations.

3. Ten Things in Common

‍ This activity is designed to build and strengthen relationships between new hires and existing employees by helping them find things that they have in common with one another. To get started, split employees up into teams or pairs, with each team having an equal amount of new and veteran employees. Set a timer. The activity can be easier or harder depending on the time limit you give, but three minutes is a good starting point.

‍In the given time, instruct each team or pair to find and list ten things they have in common. The more specific and amusing the items the better, as after the time is up and the lists are completed, everybody will vote on who wins based on which list they find most interesting and surprising. Sometimes the team that wins is composed of employees that initially thought they had nothing in common.

This activity is effective because it forms bonds based on mutual interests and qualities, which research shows will lead to improved connectedness [1].

4. The Marshmallow Challenge ‍

The Marshmallow Challenge is an activity that needs to be done in person and with everyone in the same room but it's one of the favorite physical icebreakers for promoting teamwork. Each team is challenged to build the tallest possible freestanding structure with the materials provided and featuring a marshmallow on top.

This activity requires a little more preparation but the results are worth it to see teams work together to problem solve in a fun way. Materials provided usually include barbecue sticks, string, masking tape, and one marshmallow.

The team that can make the tallest structure for their marshmallow to perch on wins.

5. Bingo Board ‍

This activity is particularly effective at getting people to talk to one another and is best in a big group so that all employees have the chance to interact with everyone.

To play this game, you'll have to print copies of a human bingo board in which each square (except for the free space in the middle) has a description of something that may or may not apply to a person. Examples of possible square options include:

- Find somebody with the same number of siblings as you

- Find somebody who plays an interesting instrument

- Find somebody who was born in another country

- Find somebody who was born in the same month as you

Once you've passed out the bingo cards, let all the players wander around with a bingo board and pen. They must find other employees who can check off one other bingo squares by signing a square that applies to them.

The first person to get enough signatures in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) to traverse the board wins

‍This game is great because it's high-energy and encourages employees to talk to and get to know one another by prompting them to speak about certain topics.

6. Personality Quizzes ‍

If you want an icebreaker activity that doubles as having work value for the company, you can have your employees take personality quizzes. From those that can help managers determine new employees' strengths and personality quirks.

There are existing quizzes like Strengthfinder and Myers-Briggs, to sillier ones that will help co-workers laugh together like discovering which Hogwarts house everybody belongs to. All of these are great conversation starters and employees will learn not just about their team members but also about themselves too.

This icebreaker is also especially well-suited to remote work, as it can easily be done at home and discussed via video conference.

7. Questions From a Hat ‍

Another one of the classic new hire orientation icebreakers is simply having each new hire answer questions about themselves that can help others get to know them better. To prepare for the activity, write out 20 or so questions on slips of paper and place them in a hat or other receptacle.

Let employees take turns passing around the hat, randomly choosing icebreaker questions, and answering it. Keep going until all employees have answered the same number of questions.

The key to this version of an icebreaker is simply to have questions that are as interesting as possible. Here are some options worth considering:

- What do you usually have for breakfast?

- Are you a morning person or a night person?

- What's the most unusual job you've ever had?

- What interest haven't you pursued, but have always wanted to and why?

- What is something no one here knows about you?

- When was the last time you got the giggles at an inappropriate time?

- What is the best thing that's happened to you in the last year?

- What is an accomplishment you're proud of?

- What is your favorite TV show?

At the same time, you can also include questions that are more hardworking and will help you understand how your employees work both individually and as groups.

Some of these questions include:

- What do you value in a team? - What is your favorite thing about working in a team?

- In one word, how would you describe the way you work?

- What do you think your previous team valued about you?

- What is your ideal work environment?

- What do you want your colleagues to know about your work ethic?

Using the Qualee Survey feature, you can even involve your team to help select the questions that they find interesting to ensure everybody's engagement.

‍Virtual Icebreakers For Remote Workers

Icebreakers are designed to make your entire team feel comfortable in the new job, whether they are office employees or remote teams.

Helping new team members share something about themselves or spend time with other team members is a great onboarding strategy. Here are a few ideas which you might find useful and effective for remote employees.

1. Virtual Happy Hour

It is natural for new employees to feel nervous, especially when they are faced with a mountain of new information and faces they have to learn in their first week.

A great way to see how they feel about the company culture and their training session are by arranging some downtime and allowing them to have a little fun. Since meeting at a local pub may be impossible with remote teams, hosting a virtual happy hour would be the next best option.

Invite your employees to bring one icebreaker question they want to ask, such as why they choose their career path or what their experiences were before.

2. Rose, Thorn & Bud

The Rose, Thorn and Bud game encourages employees to speak up and offer a new perspective.

The game is simple:

- Each team member has to share two "roses," which means any positive event in their life right now

- The team members would then share one  "thorn," which refers to an issue they are currently facing

- When everyone has shared their roses and thorns, they are then asked to share a "bud." This refers to something they look forward to in the future.

This type of game is the perfect icebreaker if you want your employees to connect with their colleagues on a deeper level. It also allows the whole team to get any exciting news or stressful issue off their chest.

3. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Improve your team's morale by hosting an online scavenger hunt. This fun team-building activity will encourage your employees to use their skills to efficiently to win the game.

- Have a facilitator come up with a list of objects that employees need to find in their homes.

- Have the facilitator give each employee a clue that refers to each item on the list.

- Employees will need to turn their camera off while searching for the item in their home

- Team members who have found an item on the list should turn their camera back on. Each correct item earns the employee a certain number of points

- The employee with the most amount of points wins.

4. Group Coffee Breaks

Coffee breaks are one of the most effective ways of getting a large group of employees to learn things about each other.

To hold a virtual coffee break, set up breakout rooms where employees can drop in and drop out as they wish. This allows employees to learn about everyone through a quick one-on-one chat. Even just a 10-minute of coffee break could make such a big difference.

Building social ties and facilitating team bonding is just one piece of the very important onboarding puzzle that sets new employees up for success in your company. Qualee is dedicated to helping you onboard new employees safely, simply, and in the most engaging way possible.

Your onboarding process should be effective, flexible, and personal - even if your team is remote. For a solution that can ensure an intuitive onboarding process that will help smoothly integrate new employees into your organization, check out Qualee. Try our Starter Plan today!

You might be interested in the following resources:
Calculate onboarding ROI using our Onboarding Cost Calculator
Learn about our 22 Mind-Blowing Onboarding Statistics
Why Digitization Is Changing Onboarding and Engagement
Our Recommended 42 Essential Onboarding Questions for New Hires

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