Ice breakers and employee bonding, whether in a remote or in-person environment, provide an excellent opportunity for co-workers to learn more about each other. Employee camaraderie builds valuable connections within your company and boosts morale. With a positive work-life experience, employees can become more productive and purposeful in their roles.
Get to Know Each Other Ice Breakers
When thinking about the right ice breaker to use, it is important to consider the preexisting relationships that employees have with each other. For new hires, ice breakers that allow others to get to know each other with personal details and fun facts can facilitate personal discussions later.
Step One: Ask employees to close their eyes for a minute and visualize the best moments of their lives. These moments can be any happy memory and do not need to be related to their profession.
Step Two: Keeping their eyes closed, ask each participant to take a moment to decide what 30 seconds of their life they would want to relive if they only had thirty seconds left. THEN ask participants to narrow it down to the best 5 seconds of their life.
Step Three: The leader of the activity will ask every participant what their 30 seconds entailed and why they chose it, which will allow participants to get a feel for each other’s passions, loves, and personalities.
Step One: Have everyone in the group text you a random/funny/interesting fact about themselves and their name.
Step Two: Pick a couple of the facts and read them to the group without revealing how they apply.
Step Three: Have the group guess who the fact applies to and why they think that. After a couple of guesses, reveal the person and have them explain the story behind their fact (if any).
Find 10 Things in Common
Step One: Break everyone into separate groups, including employees from all departments.
Step Two: Task the groups with finding ten things that all of them share in common (besides the obvious, e.g., that they are human).
18 & Under
Step One: Give everyone 20-30 seconds to think about something cool, fun, or impressive they accomplished before they were 18.
Step Two: Simply go around the room, and ask each person to share one accomplishment they had before they turned 18.
Energizer Ice Breakers
Perhaps it's been a long work day, or you are trying to boost morale before the meeting. Energizers can be fast and effective for lifting employees' spirits and getting the whole room laughing.
Step One: Gather your employees and have them stand in a large circle. Explain that the group's task is to build a human-machine, and each person will become one moving part of the machine.
Step Two: One employee enters the circle and begins making a repeating sound and a physical movement (e.g., a “beep, beep, beep” sound while waving one arm.) After 5 seconds, another person enters the circle and connects to the first person, making a unique sound and a movement. Continue building the machine until everyone is connected, making a sound and movement until you have a myriad of chaos.
The Movie Pitch
Step One: Split into groups and have each group think of two movies to combine into one plot. Then, after 10 minutes, have each group summarize the plot of their mashup. Here are some movie ideas
- Wizard of OZ and Jaws
- Harry Potter and Titanic
- Jurassic Park and the NoteBook
- Frozen and Spiderman
Step Two: Have one team member start making a noise you’d hear in a song like percussion.
Step Three: Have everyone in the group go around the circle until you make an orchestra of sound.
Step One: Divide your employees into two pairs and have them make the most creative handshake in about two minutes.
Step Two: Have the pairs present the handshake to the rest of your employees.
Step Three: If time allows, make new pairs and repeat the process with new partners. Now employees have a handshake they can use with each other throughout the workday.
When facilitating appropriate and effective ice breakers and team activities, keeping some critical techniques in mind is essential.
Things to do…
- Create a low-threat atmosphere
- Keep the group focused and on task
- Gauge the reactions of participants
- Be engaged in the conversation
- Maintain the flow of conversation
- Learn and use participants' names
- Be energetic and enthusiastic about the activity
- Consider redirection for ineffective activities
Things NOT to do….
- Make fun of participants
- Use inappropriate humor
- Ignore what an employee has said
- Act disengaged and aloof
- Make generalizations or assumptions
- Provide unsolicited advice