Icebreaker exercises are common in workplaces, albeit often dreaded and unloved. Intended to introduce and connect colleagues, some icebreakers actually serve an inverse social effect. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a handful of tips and tricks to improve your icebreaker game.
The best icebreaker exercises are easy to explain, over in less than 15 minutes, are team-oriented, get everyone talking, have low or no costs, and work in both virtual and real-life settings. Perhaps the ultimate icebreaker is glaringly simple; a good conversation. It may seem obvious, but already having rapport with someone makes approaching them later – maybe with a tough question – much easier.
Likewise, a brief pre-meeting check-in works wonders. For example, asking colleagues to place themselves on a one-to-ten mental health scale not only humanises and soothes partakers, but also gently hints at someone’s productivity level. Another option is to introduce the idea you’ll be brainstorming, then noting down all the worst ideas you can think of. By asking people to share their favourite worst ideas, cogs turn without the pressure of being great.
For a larger group, consider speed dating. Make sure to curate question prompts to leave on each table. Every question should be in line with the culture you are looking to promote within your workplace. Instead of asking favourite emojis or foods, prompts about which colleagues motivate us or tips on refocusing at work are work-related and approachable.
Ironically an icebreaker itself, workplace leaders should decide which exercises best work to create their ideal workplace environment. A shared or free lunch is attractive to many, but doesn’t promote conversation. Opening a collaborative workplace playlist might overjoy your music lover employee, but ostracise the person who prefers to work in silence.
Some icebreakers are only good on paper. Be careful when asking colleagues to share personal details or to guess which truth belongs to someone else as to minimise the chance of someone misspeaking. There are better icebreakers than standing in a circle, awkwardly talking in turns.
The most memorable icebreakers require some pre-planning. Asking employees to ensure a bunch of balloons stay in the air or to invent alternative ways to use office supplies are just two fun challenge ideas. If looking to educate your employees, try doing so via quizzes, Kahoots, or a game of Jenga with questions written on each block.
Many common icebreakers forget the end goal; warming people to each other. It is one thing to break the ice, but another to instigate even more ice picking. Icebreakers need not be generic and bland. Inspire connection, creativity, and collaboration with an icebreaker today!