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New hire orientation icebreakers that actually work

Morgan Gregory
November 7, 2022 12:37 PM

New hire orientation icebreakers that actually work 

When a new hire joins an existing team – or when the entire team is new – it is time for icebreakers. Attitudes toward icebreakers vary, but when chosen thoughtfully, planned carefully, and managed well they are very effective. But why are they effective? How do you manage them? Which ones do you choose? Read on to learn how to prepare new hire orientation icebreakers that actually work. 

Why Icebreakers Work

Icebreakers work because they create a positive, more relaxed environment that promotes camaraderie.  

Icebreakers create a great environment, leaving a positive first impression that lasts.¹ They turn challenges and overcoming obstacles into positive experiences. If people meet while competing to create the best structure out of marshmallows, it is likely that the laughter and fun shared will linger on in workplace competition. 

In addition to creating a fun, positive workplace, icebreakers help us relax and relieve the awkwardness of meeting new people.⁴ Icebreakers help us let our guard down and be comfortable with others, which creates a long-lasting environment of trust, collaboration, and creativity.⁴

Icebreakers also work because they create interaction that replaces perceived differences with commonalities. Perhaps two new hires both ride motorcycles or love to cook. When employees make such personal connections the result is a strong team with people who consider others when making daily workplace decisions.³


How to Manage Icebreakers

In addition to knowing why icebreakers are important, you need to know how to manage them. Above all make sure to keep icebreakers brief and simple.¹ An icebreaker can cause more harm than good if it drags on or if the requirements are complex and confusing. 

 

Include everyone.¹ With more and more workplaces moving to hybrid models - some employees in the workplace and some at home - it is vital to have everyone included. Cohorts form naturally, either due to place or personality, but employees need to stay connected to the entire company or business.²

Make icebreakers playful and make sure everyone - including you - participates. When people have fun, they relax and enjoy work more. When you participate, you lead by example, embodying being comfortable taking risks. 

Finally, icebreakers should not be used only when introducing new hires. Use them to start meetings and during training.³ When icebreakers become a regular part of a workplace their positive benefits are refreshed and solidified. 

Which Icebreakers to Choose

There are so many lists of icebreakers that choosing a few good ones can become an exhausting task. Before looking at any list, consider the people involved and your purpose. If you are bringing new hires into an existing team, you will need icebreakers that are not tiresome for those who already know each other. If your purpose is more fun than relaxation, choose high energy icebreakers. Also, always be aware of which icebreakers will allow you to maintain a professional environment.³

Effective icebreakers:

  • Good for a group of all new employees: Two Truths and a Lie - ask employees to share two truths and one lie about themselves. Then ask the group to guess which is the lie.¹

  • Good for bringing new employees into an existing team: Four quadrants - give each participant a pen and paper with a 2x2 grid on it. Ask four questions and have each participant draw each answer, using one quadrant per question. Then participants present and discuss what they have drawn.⁴

  • Good for small groups: Desert Island - ask your team the question, “if you were stranded on a desert island for a year, what book, what song, and what personal item would you bring?” Give the team members time to think and then share their answers.⁵

  • Good for virtual events: Emoji answers - ask the team general questions or questions related to something current. Have each person respond with an emoji that captures how they think or feel. Have a few people share their reasons for choosing certain emojis after each question.³

  • Good for ongoing use: Coworker scavenger hunt - ask employees to find colleagues who have a certain trait. Choose specific, easy scavenger hunt topics, like who once went sky-diving or who knows how to drive a farm tractor.³

Good for your auto dealership team: Identify 3 Favourites - ask your team to look through your auto dealership’s inventory using your DealerpullInventory Management software to choose 3 favourites from your inventory. These can be vehicles they would like to own for any reason. Then have them share their choices.²

Sources

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