Icebreaker Games for Work

Building a positive community is such a powerful tool for long-term employee success and happiness. A great way to start building community is with icebreaker games for work. An ice breaker is meant to break the tension and help people get to know each other. The goal is to build trust, bloom work relationships, and help employees find common ground. Team building activities will give employees confidence in one another and open the doors to healthy communication.

While some may be hesitant because they believe ice-breaker activities are for children, the right choice of fun and engaging ice breaker games for work such as these will break down their barriers and help your team to begin building strong bonds.

Here are our top 10 choices for icebreaker games for work that will build trust, communication, and strong work-place bonds.

1. Lost at Sea

This fun game will put the team’s survival skills to the test. Your teams will need a pen and printout of the provided checklist of salvaged items. These survival items include a shaving mirror, a floating seat cushion, shark repellent, and two chocolate boxes. Everyone should complete their own ranking first, for 10 minutes. Then teams must work together within a 20-minute window to rank a list of salvaged items in importance from 1-15 together. One is most important, and 15 being the least important. They will compare their individual and team rankings to the coast guard’s recommendations to determine how well they survive being stranded at sea. Find the list and step-by-step directions here.

  • Size: Recommended for 5 to 10 participants
  • Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium

2. Gossip

This friendly and light-hearted activity will build community and practice positive praise. One group member, the “target,” will be asked to step outside of the room. The other participants will write down something positive or a compliment about their colleague on a piece of paper. The target will return, and the pieces of paper should be read aloud one by one. The target will guess each paper to determine who wrote it. If they guess correctly, the writer becomes the next target. Continue gameplay until every participant has had a turn to be the target. This can be adapted as a virtual team icebreakers by discussing in a Zoom meeting.

  • Size: Recommended for 5 to 10 participants
  • Time: 20-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

3. Diversity Bingo

Bring in some competition to liven the discussion. Print bingo cards with a designated number of squares of your choice. Fill each square with a statement that will apply to some of your participants. You can also connect it to the objective or topic of your meeting. Statements like “has more than two siblings” or “favorite color is green” will work for personal statements. For work-related statements, add “ Knows the definition of ____” or “is an expert in ______” can help highlight content area experts for your workshop. This can be adapted as a virtual team icebreakers by creating breakout rooms in a Zoom meeting.

Steps:

  1. Have participants mingle and set the limit for how many times the same person can sign someone’s bingo card. Limiting to one or two squares will enhance mingling with a greater number of peers.
  2. Set the goal to win the game.
    1. Traditional: The first person to fill one row or column can shout “BINGO.”
    2. Complete: The first person to complete the entire card wins. This will promote more competition and less discussion.
    3. Timed: Encourage everyone to try and fill their card in the allotted time. This promotes the most discussion and less competition.
  • Size: Recommended for 8 to 50 participants
  • Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

4. Personal Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms allows participants to express their personal qualities through drawing. Everyone will complete a shield sectioned into 5 parts by answering 5 questions with a drawing. Participants will then partner up to share the coat of arms, and their partner must guess the answer for each section without the colleague giving them any hints. Unless, of course, they are completely stumped. At the end of the activity, partners will present their colleagues using their coat of arms to share the information they have learned about one another.

Questions might include:

  1. What is one of your main work functions?
  2. What are your personal values?
  3. What is something you do in your free time>
  4. What is most important to you?
  5. What is something you’re very good at?
  • Size: Recommended for 6 to 20 participants
  • Time: 40-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium

5. Quotes

Spark inspiration and discussion with the quotes activity. This activity calls for prep work on the hosts’ behalf. Print out a large selection of quotes for participants to review. Participants will select a quote and work discuss its impactfulness and meaning with a partner. Print out about 25% more quotes than participants to ensure you have a large variety. To keep the activity highly engaging, give partners around 1 minute each to share, and then have participants switch to a new partner and a new quote if they choose. This can be adapted as a virtual team icebreaker by creating breakout rooms in a Zoom meeting.

Variation: Allow participants to select the quote that most resonates with them, call on a few volunteers to share which quote they selected and why.

6. Trading Card

Allow participants to share their personality outside of work with this creative activity. Give participants a large index card and markers to use to create a trading card about themselves. Participants should draw a self-portrait, give themselves a nickname, and share one little known fact about themselves.

  1. Give participants about 5-10 minutes to complete their trading card
  2. Pass trading cards so that each participant reads until they find one they have a question about, or until a designated time is up.
  3. Have a volunteer share the name, nickname, and a question they have to the person who created the card. Allow the author to answer and elaborate on the questions about their card.
  4. Keep playing for a few turns but keep the maximum time to under 15 minutes.
  • Size: Recommended for 2 to 30 participants
  • Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Low

7. Stand Up If

Energize participants with movement. Create a series of appropriate identifiable statements that participants will be comfortable answering. The facilitator should read each statement one by one and have players stand up if the statement applies to them. Categories like food, travel, games, or sports are safe. Statements like “Stand up if you’ve been on a cruise” or “Stand up if you have been to a professional football game” are great.

  • Size: Recommended for 2 to 50 participants
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Low

8. Scavenger Hunt

Put an adult spin on a classic kid’s game. Break participants into teams and use technology devices to complete the digital scavenger hunt or list nearby objects that would be easily accessible.

  1. Digital:
    1. Find a picture of your favorite food
    2. Something that starts with an “S.”
    3. An animal hiding behind something
    4. Something your best friend would enjoy
  2. In Room:
    1. A pair of glasses
    2. A book
    3. A paper clip
    4. A pack of tissues
    5. A pen
  • Size: Recommended for 5 to 40 participants
  • Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium

9. A Penny for Your Thoughts

Prepare enough pennies for each participant to have one, make sure they are easily readable and under 20 years old. Pass out pennies to each participant, and pair them up. Each pair should introduce themselves and share one memory from the year on the penny. Allow one minute to share, then have them switch pennies and find a new partner.

  • Size: Recommended for 4 to 30 participants
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Low

10. Protect Your Egg

Teams will work together in this team-building activity to build a device that will protect an egg.

  1. Divide participants into teams of 2-4.
  2. Distribute materials:
    • Paper
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Glue and/or Tape
    • Straws
    • Cotton Balls
  3. Give participants a designated amount of time to build their structures.
  4. When teams are done, have each team decide on one representative to stand on the chair and drop the egg.
  5. Winners are any team who successfully protects their egg from breaking.
  • Size: Recommended for 4 to 40 participants
  • Time: 20-40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium

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