Getting to Know Your Employees: Great Ice Breakers to Try

Getting to know your employees is an important objective for any team leader. By becoming more familiar with your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, you can make better decisions for the team. However, many team leaders need to become very familiar with their employees in a short amount of time. Ice breaker games are an excellent way to help you get to know your employees and make team members feel more comfortable with each other.


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The basics of getting to know your team members

For a team to work well together, it’s important that team members and leaders are comfortable with one another. When team members feel at ease with each other, they are more likely to share their ideas or offer helpful suggestions. To reach this level of comfort, spend some time getting to know everyone. A great way to do this is through ice breaker games. Ice breaker games are quick games designed to help people learn a lot about each other in a short amount of time. A good ice breaker game should have the following elements:

    • Simplicity: The game should be simple to understand so that employees can start playing it right away. Many great ice breakers also require little preparation before the meeting.


    • Quick completion: You may only have a short amount of time to devote to your ice breaker, so choose something that you can finish quickly. The ideal ice breaker is probably around 20 minutes. However, you may go longer if you choose something more elaborate or have a large group.


    • Interaction: The goal of the ice breaker game is to get your employees to interact with one another so that they increase their comfort level.


  • Fun: If you’re going to play a game at work, it’s best to make it one that everyone will enjoy. Choose something that will keep all the participants engaged and interested and provides a change of pace from the rest of the work day.

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees


Three ice breakers to try

Here are three examples of ice breakers to try in the office:


1. Two truths and a lie

A simple game to play with a new group of people is called two truths and a lie. With this game, each person writes down two true things about themselves and one lie. You then take turns reading aloud what you’ve written down to the group, with the rest of the group trying to guess which one is the lie. Two truths and a lie is an easy game to play, and it allows everyone to share some fun facts about themselves. It also doesn’t require much preparation, time or materials.


2. Desert island

To play desert island, have your group sit in a circle. The group leader then picks out a category, such as movies or books. You then go around the circle, and each person names three items within the category that they would bring with them if they were stuck on a desert island. This is a fun way to quickly learn a little bit about what interests that person has and see which employees have similar tastes. After everyone has had an opportunity to answer, continue the game by choosing another category.


3. A scavenger hunt

If you want to get your employees moving around, consider putting together a scavenger hunt. Start by splitting your employees into smaller groups, and then have them find items from a list of things that can be found around the workplace. This is a good way to get your employees to work together and help them learn their way around a new workspace. Send them to various departments so that they become familiar with people in other areas. To create your scavenger hunt, you have a few options, such as:

  • Finding small, silly items and hide them around the office
  • Creating your list around a theme related to your business or the project you’ll be working on
  • Hiding items within or immediately outside the workplace, or hiding clues within the company website

Give each item on the list a point value based on how difficult it is to find. Then set a timer and send the groups off. The team that collects the most points by the end of the time limit is the winner. If you want to make the scavenger hunt a little more exciting, hand out prizes such as gift cards to the top-scoring team.

Related: New Hire Onboarding Checklist


Ice breaker FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about setting up ice breaker games for employees.


When is the best time to use ice breakers?

The best time to use ice breaker games is either after hiring a new group of employees or before you begin a new team project. Ice breakers are great for when you have a new group of people and want to quickly get them comfortable in their new environment. It can also help people to grow more familiar with those in their team, even if they know the other team members already.


How long should an ice breaker game last?

How long the ice breaker lasts will depend on the game you choose and how much time you have available. However, ice breakers are usually meant to simply make team members more friendly toward each other before working on a project, so most games can last anywhere between a few minutes and a half an hour.


How many people can plan an ice breaker game?

Most ice breaker games are designed to be played with a large group of people. If you have an especially large group, though, you may find it hard to manage everyone within a single game. Consider breaking the large group into smaller groups and running several ice breakers at the same time. Mix up the groups after each game and play another so that everyone gets an opportunity to play with everyone else.

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