2. Team wins
Start meetings on a high note by taking a moment to recognize your team members. If you don’t have Bonusly implemented, take just 10 minutes to appreciate the hard-working individuals around the room. Switch it up—go around and appreciate someone to the left one day, and the next, ask people to appreciate someone on a different team.
3. Group timeline
We love this idea from our friends at When I Work!
Give your team members four slips of paper, and ask them to mark down four important moments in their life. Let them pin them to the timeline.
[…] This exercise helps show, in a visual way, the different generations and experiences of your team. It leads well into talking about cultural and generational differences and the effects that has on how people work and communicate. It is also an opportunity for team members to learn more about each other.
Dates-based activities always bring up interesting tidbits. When one team member was being born, another could have been wearing bell bottoms and traveling around the United States in an RV. You never know!
4. Guess who
This one is easy. Write down a fact about yourself—the sillier the better—and toss it in with everybody else’s answers. Mix them up, and read each one aloud. Whoever matches a fact to a team member gets a (very coveted) piece of candy!
This is a great way to learn tidbits and trivia about your team that may not come up in typical workplace conversations.
5. Meet your match
There are a few things in life that just go together—peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, Taylor Swift and cats, etcetera, etcetera. Write down these pairs and tape one-half of each on someone’s back or forehead. The goal is to get everyone to find their other half, but here’s the catch—you don’t know your own descriptor, and you can only ask yes-or-no answers of others.
Once you do work out your pairing, take a moment and get to know each other!
6. One-word icebreaker
This one has applications in a number of settings. For a larger, all-hands type meeting, split your employees into teams and ask them to come up with one word to describe, say, your company culture. Give them ten minutes to discuss amongst themselves. Then let all the teams present their word and their reasoning, and facilitate a conversation about your company values.
Similarly, this can also be done quickly in the first few minutes of a meeting. Prompts like, “describe this project with one word,” or “In this meeting, I hope to come away with [word],” can reveal some surprising answers, with enlightening or comforting discussion to follow.
7. Trading cards
Ever imagined yourself on a collectible? Now’s your chance! We love this idea from Gamestorming, where each participant creates their own trading card, including a hometown, nickname, and bit of trivia about themselves. Pass around the cards and ask follow-up questions, allowing time for the player—er, participant—to elaborate.
Hard mode: Assign everyone to draw a trading card for someone else on the team. ?
8. Mindfulness check-in
It’s so often that we bounce from one meeting to the next—one workday to the next, even! Encourage employee wellness by taking a quiet moment to let everyone breathe. With guided prompts like, “What is the purpose of this meeting?” and “What is the thing you’re hoping to accomplish today?” you’re allowing team members to ground themselves and open up.
9. Donut chats
There’s only so much you can bond with someone over quick prompts, so take it a step further and implement Donut at your company! Donut pairs up two employees for coffee (or donuts! Or beer!), allowing for one-on-one time between team members who might not be able to interact or collaborate as often.
10. Speed meeting
Just like speed dating, but SFW. ?
This is a great way to meet a lot of employees in a short amount of time, and gets people up and moving, too! Arrange participants in two lines, and just shuffle everyone down the line once the timer goes off. Along with the typical name and occupation questions, arm each team member with an interesting question to ask. Check out this in-depth explanation from The Balance Careers, with great variations and a list of question prompts!
Like we mentioned, ice breakers aren’t meant to make everyone BFFs right away! In fact, it may even make everyone comfortable right away. But sometimes, that discomfort is valuable in a group environment. It demonstrates that it’s okay to be vulnerable at your workplace, which is an important building block to developing a company culture of respect.
For more ideas on how to engage employees and keep building a great company culture, check out this resource: