Leaders facilitating icebreaker activities may reap the benefits of a more cohesive team by experiencing 21% increase in profitability1https://goremotely.net/blog/workplace-collaboration/#:~:text=Extremely%20connected%20teams%20demonstrate%20a,fewer%20workers%20leave%20the%20company. —one willing to collaborate and go the extra mile together to produce results.
The real challenge is finding get-to-know-you icebreakers for adults that avoid eye-rolling, crossed arms, and frustration. Hopefully, you’ll find something that works for your team and cultivates stronger workplace friendships among these 60 non-cheesy icebreakers.
The Benefits of Get-to-Know-You Icebreakers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 7.8 hours2https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf at the office or 5.6 hours working remotely per day. Needless to say, work occupies the majority of most people’s time.
Because we spend long hours working, forming bonds with our coworkers is crucial. Building friendships at work allows team members to ask questions, seek help on tasks, and increase productivity.
About 32% of employees3https://www.gallup.com/workplace/397058/increasing-importance-best-friend-work.aspx say having a best friend improves workplace satisfaction. Meanwhile, other studies show bonding with coworkers makes you seven times more engaged4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7045053/ in your work—particularly crucial for remote teams with minimal interaction.
Ice breakers can help start conversations and enable team members to find common ground. The goal is always to help teams get to know one another on a deeper, more collaborative level.
Get-to-Know-You Icebreakers For All Types of Teams
Teams often comprise all types of people with different personalities, making the extra workplace special. Discover everyone’s talents, interests, traits, and quirks with these 60 get-to-know-you icebreakers for adults.
Icebreakers for virtual teams
On average, you have seven seconds to make a positive first impression on someone—it can be difficult for remote workers to achieve this through a computer. Fortunately, get-to-know-you icebreakers for virtual teams can help both new and old employees bond online.
Ask your team to have something ready for show-and-tell during the next virtual meeting. Maybe it’s a favorite picture, an artifact, or something special they received from a relative. Have them upload a photo of their item in the chat box or ask them to share about it for a minute.
- Two truths and a lie
You or a volunteer can say two truths and a lie about yourself to see if attendees can guess which statement is the lie. You can play this “Round Robin” style or only do a few rounds per meeting if you’re under time constraints, but this is a fun way to get to know your office mates.
- Background photos
Send an email asking teams to upload a background picture based on a specific topic. Some ideas could include the following:
- Someplace they want to visit
- Their favorite holiday
- A favorite hobby outside of work
- A photo of their pet
Background photos can be one of the easiest get-to-know-you icebreakers for virtual teams.
- Virtual cocktail hour
Remote teams miss the opportunity to get together for cocktails and drinks after work—traditionally, a prime time to bond with coworkers. Host a virtual cocktail hour after work one evening for your remote team to relax and hang out with their favorite drink from the comfort of their home.
- Most unique
Allow everyone to share something unique about themselves during your next virtual meeting. This get-to-know-you icebreaker allows coworkers to discover hidden talents and interests they wouldn’t have otherwise known. You may even find ways to leverage those unique talents, skills, and interests in the workplace.
- Choose your favorite
Start each virtual meeting with a question about your employees’ favorite things. For example, you might ask them the following:
- What’s your favorite app?
- What’s your favorite type of food?
- What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
People can share their answers in the chat box as the meeting progresses.
- Where are you?
Your remote team could be spread out across the country or worldwide, allowing coworkers to share about their current location. Have your team describe the weather in the chat box with an emoji.
You can also use emojis to describe their favorite remote work environments—such as at home, a café, or a bookstore—or their city and state. Then, have coworkers try to guess where they are.
- Emoji game
Teams can also use emojis to describe just about anything. Maybe have your team represent their favorite book, hobby, or what they did over the weekend with three to four emojis. Coworkers can then try to solve the puzzle while learning more about each other.
When you schedule your virtual team meeting, ask employees if they’ve recently reached any personal or professional milestones they’d like to share with their coworkers. Have them email you in advance so you can work in a section of the meeting to celebrate their achievements with the team.
Icebreakers for small groups
A workplace with few employees is ideal for fostering more profound relationships. To help with this task, managers can deliver several get-to-know-you icebreakers for small teams during meetings and retreats.
- Three personal successes
Have team members reflect on and share their three most personal or professional successes with their coworkers. This game allows attendees to shine and feel celebrated for past and present achievements.
- M&M game
Associate a topic with each color M&M—red could be a favorite memory, green could be a favorite movie, or blue might be a favorite song or band. Have each coworker take an M&M from a jar and share an answer for whatever topic is associated with that color.
- Who did it?
Each team member should write something they did on a piece of paper, fold it up, and toss it in a bowl or hat. Pull out one piece at a time, sharing it with the group. Everyone can then try to guess who did the activity on the paper.
- Group playlist
Ask your team to contribute some of their favorite songs to create a workplace playlist. You can play the music quietly in the background during the day or have employees share and listen to music while working.
Pro Tip: Set ground rules for the type of songs employees may add to the playlist. For instance, they should select songs without profanities or derogatory terms.
- 10 things in common
Pair off employees to talk for about five or 10 minutes. During this time, they should try to find 10 things they have in common. Then, allow the pairs to tell the rest of the team about their uncovered similarities.
- Beach ball toss
A beach ball toss is the perfect get-to-know-you icebreaker for adults. Write several questions on a beach ball and have the team stand in a circle. Whenever a team member tosses the ball to someone, the catcher must answer the question in front of them before throwing it to another person.
- The alphabet game
Go around the room and have everyone describe themselves in one word for every alphabet letter. For instance, you might start with “adaptable,” while the next person might say “bold.” A variation of this game might be to describe the person next to you according to whatever letter you land on.
Icebreakers for large groups
Small teams are one thing, but facilitating get-to-know-you icebreakers for large groups requires you to be more strategic. These seven icebreakers might do the trick.
- The telephone game
For this game, employees must stand in a line or a circle. One person should whisper a sentence about themselves in the first person’s ear.
The following person will relay that sentence to the next person until it works its way around the room. The fun is in how the original sentence gets twisted by the end.
- Never have I ever
Everyone should hold a finger up as someone says a “never have I ever” statement. Group members who have done that activity should put their finger down. This particular icebreaker is excellent for starting discussions among players, as many will want to hear the story behind each statement.
Pro Tip: Remind the team that statements should be work-appropriate and avoid offending anyone.
- My superpower
Save time with get-to-know-you icebreakers for large groups by making activities short and sweet. At the beginning or end of a meeting, go around the room having everyone share their superpower with the team. For example, you could talk about your ability to connect with strangers or cook amazing meals.
- 3-question mingle
Each player should write three open-ended questions down on a sticky note. Give the group 10 minutes to find someone to ask the questions and spark conversation. Afterward, ask the group to share what exciting facts they learned about their coworker.
- Bowl of questions
The team should write down questions on small sheets of paper and throw them in a bowl. Then each attendee can pull out a question to ask the person sitting next to them. These questions shouldn’t be too invasive but ideal for starting a casual conversation, or just for everyone to share an interesting detail about themselves.
Have people nominate and vote on superlatives for their coworkers before the next team meeting. Superlatives are a fun way to recognize employees for skills, kindness, and quirks that make others smile.
Pro Tip: Again, this game is meant to be fun and should avoid offending people on the team. Always vet the superlatives before allowing anyone to nominate or vote for their coworkers.
- Mystery guest
Choose an attendee to be a “mystery guest” and jot down five things about them. During the meeting, read the facts to the rest of the members without revealing who the mystery person is and see if anyone can guess them.
Onboarding icebreakers for new hires
New hires will likely be nervous on their first day of work. Ease them into the friendly workplace with these get-to-know-you icebreakers during orientation.
- Who am I?
Sharing details about yourself with strangers can be uncomfortable or scary—that’s why a simple introduction may be best for new employees. Go around the room, allowing everyone to say their name, new role, and any other detail they’d like to share about themselves on their own terms.
- Personality quizzes
Personality quizzes are fun for getting to know someone and can help managers determine a new hire’s strengths. Take the Big Five personality test to see where you rank for the science-backed 5 basic traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.
Read more at: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/personality/
- Morning coffee mingle
Host a 20- to 30-minute coffee mingle in the morning before a new-start orientation. This will allow all the new hires to gather and meet each other. Encourage current team members to attend and meet their new coworkers, too—a practical way to ease everyone’s nerves and make newcomers feel welcome.
- Questions from a hat
Sometimes, writing and answering get-to-know-you questions is the best way to learn about each other without pressure—new hires are nervous enough on their first day. Write down several questions and put them in a hat. Pass the hat around and have each new hire pull a question to answer. You can go around several times.
- Company trivia
Host a trivia game with questions about the company. Undoubtedly, many of the new hires will already know facts about the business from their interview prep. This game is also helpful in teaching the new hires more about the company’s mission and accolades.
- Introduce your partner
Pair up the new hires during orientation and let them mingle for about five to 10 minutes. Then, have everyone introduce their partner to the group—it’s a nice twist on introductions that new hires may appreciate. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even make a new friend on their first day.
Warm-up icebreakers for meetings
Sometimes, you only need a quick get-to-know-you icebreaker to start a meeting. These rapid-fire icebreakers are excellent for checking in with each other at work.
- Six-word story
What was everyone up to over the weekend? Did they do anything fun? Start Monday morning off right by having everyone tell a six-word story about their time off. Six-word stories are short and to the point, giving others enough time to share something interesting and get down to business.
- Would you rather?
Before starting a virtual meeting, ask the team a “would you rather” question. For instance, would they rather run a country or a business, or live in a big city or a remote mountaintop? Attendees can then type their answers in the chat box and spark a conversation while you touch on the meeting topics.
- Rose, thorn, bud
This game is excellent for understanding everyone’s mindset on particular projects or issues. Have each team member express the following opinions:
- Rose: Something positive that happened or a win
- Thorn: Something they’re struggling with, such as a work assignment
- Bud: Something they’re excited about or would like to share
Pro Tip: Play this game with teams of 10 or fewer people to keep it quick.
- Birth map
This activity is fun if you have a large team with diverse backgrounds and cultures. Get a world map printed on a large poster.
Everyone can then write their name on a small tag and tack the paper to wherever they’re from on the map. It’s an excellent way to visually bring the team together and celebrate what makes them unique.
- Funny pet story
Everyone loves their furry friend, so take a few minutes for employees to share a funny story about their pet. You might even invite everyone’s dogs, cats, and other animals to the next virtual team meeting for an animal meet and greet.
- Worst job story
Hopefully, each team member loves working at your company—but there was likely a past job that wasn’t their favorite. Spend a moment for people to share about their worst job. It could be working in fast food as a teenager or something else. You never know who can relate to those experiences.
- Selfie with a colleague
Take a minute or two before a meeting for employees to snap selfies with each other. Then have them send the photos to a designated work email.
When visitors come to the office, you can display the photos in a digital picture frame at the front desk. It’s an excellent way to showcase workplace friendships and teamwork.
- Reflect and predict
Goal-setting doesn’t come quickly to everyone, so collaboratively working on creating goals for the upcoming year is a good idea. Speak with your team about what they accomplished last year and what they look forward to in the year ahead. They can then help one another devise a plan5https://www.stanfordcouplescounseling.com/the-power-of-decision-making/ to achieve their goals.
- What’s your favorite?
Before every meeting—in-person or virtual—ask a “favorite” get-to-know-you question, such as your favorite food, book, or sports team. Employees may find it easier to bond with their coworkers over similar interests.
Fun icebreaker games
“Work isn’t supposed to be fun,” said no one ever. Actually, teams will probably get along much better if they can all laugh and have a good time.
Charades is a popular party game enjoyed by many people—it’s also bound to cause a few laughs. Although charades may not necessarily have teams getting to know each other on a personal level, the game can help them relax and grow more comfortable around one another.
- Movie pitch game
Split a large group into smaller teams, having them come up with an interesting movie pitch to share. They might include details from their lives to make the movie more interesting. At the end of the share, everyone can vote on their favorite movie pitch.
- The hot seat
Have one employee sit in the hot seat for five to 10 minutes during each meeting. Their coworkers can then ask them questions within that timeframe to get to know them better.
If it eases some people’s worries, you might volunteer to be the first in the hot seat. Attendees can learn more about their managers that way, too.
- Guess the childhood photo
Send an email to the team requesting them to bring a childhood photo to the next meeting. Show each picture to the attendees and have them guess who it is. This game is excellent for playing with small, large, or virtual teams.
- Say your name backward
Every team member should write their name backward on a sheet of paper and toss it into a bowl or container. Someone will draw the name and read it aloud, and then everyone needs to guess who it is. Whoever gets the most points at the end of the game wins—you might even reward them with company merch such as a mug or pen.
- Who’s coming for dinner?
Go around the room and have people share who they would invite to dinner—the person could be dead, alive, a celebrity, or a personal acquaintance. These fun get-to-know-you icebreakers are great for sparking conversations about coworkers’ values and who they admire.
- Bucket list game
Have teams write down five items from their bucket list before the meeting. Then, go around the room and let them share what they want to do in their lifetime. Some coworkers may have actionable tips for helping others cross the items off their lists or have done the activities themselves.
- Name tags
For fun, have everybody write down their favorite actor, cartoon character, color, or other person or object on a nametag — it can be a different theme for every meeting. Then call on them by whatever’s written on their name tag when it’s their turn to speak.
Icebreakers to foster teamwork
Studies show 86% of employees and managers say a lack of collaboration results in failures at the office. These get-to-know-you icebreakers can help cultivate teamwork by encouraging conversation and connection.
- The compliment game
There are many ways to play the compliment game with your team—you can toss a small ball around and have the person who catches it give a compliment to someone else. They’ll then pass the ball to them so they can compliment another person. You can also have employees approve the person sitting beside them and go around the conference room.
- One Word
Similar to the previous game, have team members say a one-word compliment about their coworkers. This game might be most straightforward by putting everyone’s name in a bucket and letting everyone pull a name and give a compliment.
- Hobby seminar
Allow an employee to teach the team a hobby—this is something you can do monthly or bi-monthly. With so many unique talents and interests, coworkers can enjoy learning about their officemates and participating in something they enjoy doing.
- Neverending story
Collaboration is all about sharing and commingling great ideas, so why not have everyone create a neverending story? Start a story with one sentence and have the next person give another sentence. Go around the room to find out how crazy the plot gets.
- Problem and solution
Professional learning and development occur when coworkers can depend on each other. Go around the room and have each employee share something they’re struggling with in their jobs. Allow the rest of the team to help them develop solutions or offer to mentor them on a specific task or skill set.
- Great advice
Everyone has likely met incredible people throughout their careers and mentors who’ve imparted profound advice to help others achieve professional success. Why not have everyone write down the best advice they’ve ever received and hang it on a bulletin board in the conference room? It can be a beautiful way to inspire each other’s greatness.
Have one person stand with their hands on the hip, making a true statement about themselves. If someone feels the same way about themselves, they should link arms. The idea is to create a chain of employees around the room to demonstrate likeness.
Volunteer work enables team involvement in personal interests and causes, allowing them to work together and make a difference in the community. Have your employees share what they’re passionate about if there is an organization they follow. Then brainstorm a volunteer activity they can do, such as a park clean-up, toy drive, or food drive.
- One lesson
Split people into pairs or small groups and ask what they hope to learn during the meeting. Allow them to talk about various topics and listen for answers during discussions. Afterward, they can follow up with their partner or team to ensure they heard everything correctly and square away misunderstandings.
Icebreakers for introverts
It may prove challenging to get the office introvert excited about participating in get-to-know-you icebreakers—most tend to dread these activities. However, studies show introverts can actually do well6https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.590748/full in social situations and adapt. Get to know your introverted coworkers and make them feel a part of the team with these five low-stress icebreakers.
- Positivity game
The positivity game is excellent for shy introverts who get nervous about speaking in front of people. Tape a piece of paper on everyone’s back and allow people to write one positive thing on whoever’s back they’re facing. People get to know each other well and boost each other’s confidence this way.
- Table topics
This game requires only a short, one-sentence answer about a topic—ideal for introverts who repel the spotlight. Questions could include the following:
- What’s for dinner tonight?
- Do you have a family tradition?
- What’s your earliest memory?
Coworkers can answer these questions quickly and get to know their less-talkative officemates comfortably.
Pro tip: Introverts often need a moment to think through their answers. Give them a few seconds to gather their thoughts.
- Anonymous shares
Surveys show 74% of employees work better when they feel heard—even shy introverts. Give introverts a chance to speak on matters at the office, contribute fresh ideas, or ask questions by allowing anonymous shares.
Before every meeting, people can write down an anonymous comment on a sheet of paper to be read and discussed among the group during the session. This will take the spotlight off someone shy.
- Best thing that happened
Go around the room and ask everyone to share one positive thing that happened to them recently. It could be work-related or something from their personal lives. Starting any meeting off with good news sets the tone and sparks joy amongst coworkers.
- Groups of three
Many introverts prefer spending time alone or in small groups than in a crowd—and that’s OK. You can foster workplace friendships by creating an ideal atmosphere for coworkers to get to know their introverted colleagues.
Create groups of three people to make conversations more manageable and less stressful for introverts. They can then feel more comfortable sharing ideas and sharing details about themselves.
Key Takeaways: Icebreakers Foster Deeper Connections
Get-to-know-you icebreakers are excellent for fostering deeper connections among coworkers. Here’s a quick recap:
- Icebreakers can be as simple as having a meet-and-greet or coffee mingle before the workday begins.
- Plenty of excellent ways exist to engage remote teams and cultivate a friendly work-from-home culture.
- Fun get-to-know-you icebreakers should spark discussion but not pry too deeply into people’s personal lives.
- Some icebreaker games encourage teams to help each other achieve their professional goals.
- Introverts shouldn’t be left behind—several “quiet” icebreakers ensure shy coworkers get heard.
Helping your team bond with each other can be good for business. Closer team members may result in higher performance, greater inclusion, and a sense of belonging.
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