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6 Onboarding Icebreakers That Won’t Be a Bore

Posted November 11, 2019 by Mary Clare Novak in Running a Business 101
Looking to energize new hires? Here are 6 onboarding icebreakers to help new hires feel comfortable and get excited about joining the team.

Alright, you’ve successfully found a group of eager, qualified, talented people to work at your business. Congratulations!

As the new hires start to file in on their first day, you want them to not only feel comfortable, but excited and entertained as well. Whether it’s their first job or they have ten years of experience under their belt, they are about to spend a good chunk of their time in your office. You want them to enjoy it, right?

A good way to get off on the right foot is by focusing on the first impression. To make it a positive and memorable one, your onboarding icebreakers are going to have to hook them.

Fun Onboarding Icebreakers

Onboarding can be an intimidating process for someone starting a new job. While you are going to have to give each new employee the low down of their job, the strategies of the business, and overall goals, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it, too.

To focus more on interacting with the new hires rather than the onboarding process itself, consider using onboarding software to help automate operations. These tools can take care of the administrative tasks that go along with onboarding. While that software is doing its job, you have to focus on the people in front of you, nervous and ready to be entertained and educated.

Let’s go over a couple fun onboarding icebreakers that will help everyone get to know each other while also showing how exciting it can be to work for your business. If you’re doing a remote onboarding session, make sure to have everyone video in to help foster relationships.

1. Hometown Map

The hometown map icebreaker is a simple but fun conversation starter for a new hire group.

As people are walking in on their first day, have a world map placed on a table and have people mark where they were born with either a marker or a pin. Some people might have been born in the same place, some might vacation in someone else’s birth place, who knows. The point is to start some conversation and eliminate those first day jitters.

2. Two Truths and a Lie

Two truths and a lie is always a terrific way to learn fun facts about your team and can lead to some fun stories about past experiences.

In case it’s been a while, here’s how you play. Arrange everyone at a table. Have every person come up with two truths and one lie about themselves. Give the group some time to think, and maybe provide a pen and paper so they can write down their ideas. Once everyone is finished coming up with their two truths and one lie, each person will go around and read them aloud. The goal is for everyone else to guess what the lie was.

This game can lead to fun stories about past experiences and silly situations.

3. The Marshmallow Challenge

The marshmallow challenge is about teamwork and collaboration.

For this one, divide everyone into even teams. Give each team 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, a roll of tape, one yard of string, and a marshmallow. To win, a team must use the given supplies, and thosee supplies only, to build the tallest structure - but the marshmallow has to be on top.

The marshmallow challenge is a great onboarding exercise where everyone, new hires and recruiting staff, gets a close look at how this group will interact and work together to reach their goals.

4. One-Word

The one word onboarding game is a thought-provoking way for everyone to gain an understanding of their new hire group.

To play, split everyone up into smaller groups. Give each group a couple of minutes to come up with one word that describes X. They can then share their word with their group and then the whole room.

This is a great icebreaker for groups that have already had a couple days of onboarding. You can ask them how they would describe the company culture, office vibe, and onboarding process itself. You get feedback while everyone else gains a new perspective of how other people view the company. It’s a win-win.

5. Whodunit?

The whodunit game is another good one to play after everyone has gotten to know each other a little better.

Give each person a notecard, or a couple if you have time, and have them write down something silly or extraordinary they have done (gone sky-diving, lived in a foreign country, met Mick Jagger). Everyone will fold up their notecard and put it in a bowl (or just the middle of the table). Then, each person will go around and take turns picking one, reading it, and taking a guess as to who wrote it and, you guessed it, whodunit.

6. Caption Writing Contest

The onboarding process can be a bit stressful and people can get a bit overwhelmed with all the information they are given at once. And nothing helps cure onboarding stress like a good laugh from a caption writing contest.

To hold a caption writing contest, find a silly image online, print it out, and post it on the wall. Give everyone a sheet of paper and have them write a caption (silly or wildly accurate) and read them all aloud. Then, each person can vote on which caption they thought was the funniest, most creative, or best description of the photo.

Break That Ice

Nobody forgets their onboarding experience at a new job. Yes, people will remember who they sat next to, what they wore, and whether or not they were on time. While you cannot control those memories, you can create an environment where people feel welcomed, comfortable, and excited about the job they are about to start. These onboarding icebreakers can get you there.

Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Associate at G2 in Chicago.