What are ice breaker games?

An ice breaker game aims to build rapport by initiating conversations between colleagues who don’t know each other well. Ice breaker games come in many forms, the simplest being question games. But some are more elaborate and involve puzzles, or making something with arts and crafts.

Why are ice breaker games beneficial to company culture?

Ice breaker games can benefit your company culture in several ways including:

  • Breaking down barriers between junior and senior employees
  • Encouraging interactions between colleagues who don’t often work together
  • Providing a space for colleagues to get to know each other outside of projects
  • Putting new joiners at ease in their first meeting

It’s important to acknowledge that professional meetings aren’t necessarily the best places to bring teams together. After all, the focus is on the project or task at hand.

This is why ice breaker games are important because they encourage employees to engage on a more personal level, which contributes to a healthy company culture.

Learn how Perkbox can help you deliver a healthy company culture

35 fun ice breaker games for employee engagement

Ice breaker games can boost engagement before a meeting as they help participants relax and get to know each other better. They’re also a great way to welcome new joiners and can be part of your onboarding process.

To give you an idea of the best ice breaker games to use, we’ve organised them into the following categories:

Team members enjoying ice breaker games in a meeting

Team ice breaker games

These effective team ice breakers can strengthen bonds between colleagues and increase collaboration in meetings.

1. Scavenger hunt

Creating a scavenger hunt isn’t an easy task, so only choose this game if you have enough time to prepare. Before creating the scavenger list, ensure there are enough landmarks or things to find. For example, if your office is in a city, people could take selfies with famous monuments or places of interest. If your location is rural you could use natural landmarks. For this ice breaker, we recommend putting people in groups of four.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Businesses who want to make the most of their location or hold an ice breaker offsite.

2. The movie pitch

The movie pitch ice breaker is great for employees who have vivid imaginations. Each team picks a movie they want to pitch, or you assign them one at random. During the pitch process, they present why their film deserves funding. At the end, everyone votes on their favourite pitch. People can pitch in several ways, including presenting from a laptop, or writing on whiteboards. Some may even have a script they read aloud from.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Creative employees who don’t mind public speaking. Works best in groups of four to six people.

3. Team jigsaw

This is a very active game that relies on teamwork. It also requires some preparation and isn’t something you can throw together the night before. The goal of team jigsaw is simple, each team has to complete their puzzle in the least amount of time. Unfortunately for them though, some puzzle pieces are in the wrong boxes. This is where the teamwork comes in, as everyone needs to work together to get their missing puzzle pieces — even if it means helping the competition!

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Project managers who want to introduce employees before they work together on an assignment.

4. Charades

Charades is a versatile game that is suitable for large or small teams. During charades, each team is given a noun. Then, one person has to act out that noun so their team can guess what it is. The team who guesses the most nouns correctly wins. Some employees may initially feel a little shy, but as the game progresses they usually grow in confidence and their acts get bigger and louder.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Employees who know each other already but don’t work together often.

5. Group Trivia

If your employees love a quiz, bring out their competitive side with a few rounds of trivia. When organising people into teams, try to include a similar number in each group, as this keeps the game fair. You can also allow for some creativity when creating the quiz. How about including a music round or showing clips from blockbuster films?

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? New joiners or colleagues who’ve never met before.

Online ice breaker games

With more organisations embracing remote working, a lot of ice breaker games have transitioned to being online.

Two team mates enjoying an online ice breaker game

6. Coat of arms

Before you choose this ice breaker, check that each employee has a functioning webcam. Your teams will begin by drawing a shield and dividing it into four. In each area or quadrant, they draw or write a response to a prompt. Examples of prompts include things such as hobbies or values. The coat of arms activity is good for uncovering details about employees you wouldn’t usually know — for instance, what they find inspiring.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Anyone, but it’s great for employees who’ll be frequently working together but don’t know each other well.

7. Two truths one lie

This is a classic ice breaker game that works well online. As the name suggests employees need to tell two truths and one lie. Their colleagues then have to guess which statement is the lie. It’s an engaging game and unlike most ice breakers, has a layer of suspense, which is what makes it fun. Some teams may surprise themselves at how well they know their colleagues.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Established teams who already know each other.

8. Virtual scavenger hunt

A virtual scavenger hunt is much simpler than its real-life equivalent and works best if employees are at home, rather than being in a cafe or coworking facility. During a virtual scavenger hunt, you should make a list of household items. The stranger the better — but not too strange! Otherwise, it will limit the number of people who can take part. When you announce an item, the first employee to retrieve it and get back to their seat receives a point. At the end, the person with the most points wins.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Everyone, but it’s especially good at putting new teams at ease.

9. Baby photo challenge

The baby photo challenge shouldn’t be a game you consider at the last minute, because employees could take a while to send you their old baby photos. Once you have the photos paste them into a slide and share your screen. Depending on the size of your meeting you may only want to share baby photos of senior team members. But for small teams, you could include all of your employees. At the end of the game, the person with the most correct guesses wins.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Companies with lots of remote employees who want a fun activity to bring them closer together.

10. Would you rather?

Would you rather is a fun ice breaker for online teams, as people can vote onscreen or in a chat. If you’re using employee experience software you could also hold the questions as polls. Typical ‘would you rather’ questions include:

  • Would you rather live in a small town or city?
  • Would you rather be able to fly or speak every language?
  • Would you rather go to the gym or go for a run?

You can make up your own questions, but there are plenty of templates online. Discussing the split of answers is a great talking point and will keep your teams engaged.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Large groups who’ve never met each other before. The bigger the team the more interesting the results.

Ice breakers for meetings

Striking up a conversation during a meeting when there’s a quiet moment is difficult at the best of times, but even more so when you haven’t met your colleagues before. During these lulls, an icebreaker game could fill that gap and prevent any awkward silences from developing. Here are some examples.

11. Year of the coin

If you have loose pennies lying around, put them to good use with the year of the coin ice breaker. If you don’t have any this game also works with strips of paper — just annotate each strip with a different year. When everyone has a coin, they share a memorable event from that year. This could be a work achievement or a personal milestone. If a person wasn’t born before that year, or they can’t think of anything you can give them another coin.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Anyone, but is particularly good for teams who don’t know each other well.

12. Bowl of questions

Bowl of questions creates meaningful conversations between employees who don’t usually work together. You can use it with clients or when onboarding new hires.

During this ice breaker, it’s important to keep the questions light-hearted and fun. You want people to relax rather than feel awkward. Examples of questions you could ask include:

  • What foods have you never eaten but really want to try?
  • What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever broken?
  • Where would you love to go on holiday?

There are plenty of template questions online, but you may find writing your own is more beneficial.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Employees in meetings of less than twenty people. The smaller the group the better.

13. Tall tales

In tall tales, each employee has to add three sentences to a running story. You can start everyone off with the same beginning sentence, or they can think of one for themselves. The only direction they need is that the third sentence has to end with one word that creates suspense, such as ‘suddenly’, ‘but’, and ‘unexpectedly’. This will help stitch the sentences together so they form a whole story.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Participants in large team meetings who can be broken up into smaller groups.

14. Events bingo

This is a great game for meeting rooms as all you need is a few easels or whiteboards. On each board, create a 5x5 matrix and fill each square with different experiences written on post-it notes. The first team who ticks off a line of experiences gets a prize. Just like bingo, the prizes increase for two lines, then a full house. The prizes don’t have to be serious and can include chocolate or a free coffee in the canteen.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Businesses who are tight on space and need a compact game for their meetings

15. Paper aeroplane game

This one takes a little bit of preparation, but fortunately not too much. All you need is a stack of multicoloured paper and some markers. Ask everyone to write an interesting fact about themselves on a sheet of coloured paper, then get them to fold it into an aeroplane. When everyone is ready, they’ll throw their aeroplanes into the air. Each person picks up a different aeroplane, opens it, and tries to match the fact to a colleague. Try to ensure everyone picks up a different aeroplane to one they made, to avoid any confusion.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Small groups of people and businesses with large meeting spaces.

Learn more about different creative onboarding processes and how you can implement them

Arts and crafts ice breaker games

Arts and craft ice breakers need a bit more preparation in comparison with other activities, so keep this in mind before choosing them.

16. Origami

An origami ice breaker is a very flexible activity and can be applied in many ways. For example, you could split employees into teams and whoever makes the most origami figures wins. Or, you could assign groups a more complicated structure, which requires each of them to make individual paper folds that fit together. Don’t forget, the aim of this ice breaker is to put your employees at ease, so avoid critiquing the finished origami figures.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Small teams of employees who enjoy being creative.

17. Team architect

Team architect is a highly creative ice breaker where teams build a structure using different materials and objects, such as lollipop sticks and string. You can approach this ice breaker in several ways, such as giving each group the same materials or letting them choose what they want to use. If they have a choice, flip a coin to determine who gets the first pick. We recommend keeping teams to a maximum of four people.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Creative teams who like to think on their feet.

18. Marshmallow challenge

During the marshmallow challenge, teams have 18 minutes to build a marshmallow tower with spaghetti sticks, masking tape and string. The aim of the marshmallow challenge is to build the highest tower possible. While this may not seem obvious, the marshmallow challenge is actually very good at teaching your teams about prototyping and interactive design.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Employees who are about to work on a project together but haven’t met before.

19. Mystery drawing

The mystery drawing icebreaker is an engaging activity that tests your employees communication and interpretation abilities. One person is given an object prompt, for example, ‘tree’, which another team member has to draw. But the person with the prompt can’t say what the object is, they can only describe it. Each team has three to five minutes to complete the drawing. After each session, you should allow time to reflect on the exercise — for instance, was it easier or more challenging than expected?

Who can benefit from this ice breaker?  Employees in small meetings who can be put in groups of two people.

20. Jenga question tower

This may take a while to prepare, but all you need is a Jenga tower and marker. If you’re short of time you could write on a few blocks, but be aware that some employees may, by chance, never get the opportunity to answer a question. There are plenty of ice breaker questions online, but you could get more thoughtful responses if you write your own.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Small groups of new employees. Great as part of a work social.

Ice breakers for management training

Maintaining engagement during long periods of training is challenging. Especially as we can only concentrate for a limited amount of time. However, ice breaker games can give your employees the break they need, while also teaching them something new.

Managers on their laptops enjoying a pre-meeting icebreaker

21. Frivolous debate

For frivolous debate to work best, we recommend preparing some silly but fun topics in advance. If you have topics ready, managers can start their debates right away, instead of thinking about statements to discuss. Examples of debates include ‘cats are better than dogs’ or ‘summer is better than winter’. For each debate, split people into two groups, so each can argue in favour of one side or the other. Frivolous debate is a light-hearted lesson on how to communicate ideas in a persuasive and succinct manner.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Medium to large-size groups, where there are enough people to split into two groups.

22. Rose, thorn, bud

Rose, thorn, bud helps managers speak candidly about the progress of their projects. The purpose of this three-word ice breaker is to keep their feedback brief and specific, so they don’t fixate on one aspect of what is, or isn’t going well.

Use the following words as talking points:

  • Rose: Describe a recent highlight or win
  • Thorn: Discuss any challenges or tasks that require additional support
  • Bud: Brainstorm ideas for tackling the next goal within that project

Of course, with some projects the bud isn’t initially obvious, so the rose and thorn may only be necessary talking points.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Managers who are involved in long-term projects.

23. Recap of the day

Recap of the day is a great activity to end your management training session. During this closing ice breaker, managers share something from the meeting that resonated with them. Did they learn something new? Or, during a period of reflection, did they find a solution to an ongoing problem? Either way, this activity helps solidify any information your employees learned during their training.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Managers who are participating in lengthy training sessions.

24. Make a shape

Make a shape tests goal setting and communication skills. Best of all, this activity only requires some rope or string. To begin, tie the ends of the rope together to make a circle. Then, get everyone to make a shape out of the circle by standing up and holding the rope with both hands — at this point in the game, you can give them verbal instructions.

After that, invite them to make more complex shapes by laying the rope on the floor (the rope is untied). As the shapes become more complicated you aren’t allowed to tell people what to do. You can only direct them with hand gestures. At the end, talk about their experience and what they found challenging. Did they make better shapes when receiving verbal instructions? How did the style of communication affect how well they made the shape?

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Leaders or managers who are undergoing training in communication.

25. Shrinking island

Shrinking island is a game that tests how quickly your teams can think. Each group is given several sheets of newspaper to stand on and nobody can be touching the walls or floor. With each round, a sheet of paper is taken away and everyone has to work out how they can fit on whatever paper is left. The group that fits the most people on the smallest sheet wins. At the end discuss how everyone communicated with each other, talk about what worked and what didn’t.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Leaders who are learning about strategy and communication.

Ice breakers to boost team morale

Whether you're holding a town hall for hitting an important milestone or an informal catch-up, these ice breakers are great for bringing people closer together.

26. Pay it forward

Pay it forward is a feel-good activity that should put a smile on everyone’s face. For this ice breaker, no equipment is necessary, all you need to do is make sure everyone is sitting in a circle. The aim of pay it forward is to encourage team members to compliment each other. So, tell everyone they need to write or say three compliments about the person to their right. The comments don't have to be personal and may only relate to work achievements. It’s good to think of this activity as an exercise in recognition.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Everyone, though it’s especially good for workshops and team catch-ups.

27. Two sides of the coin

This ice breaker works best in teams who work closely together as it may require some previous knowledge of different projects. To kick off two sides of the coin, put people into pairs and ask them to share a recent experience at work that didn’t go to plan. It could be a project that wasn't finished on time, or there was an incident of miscommunication. In either example, each pair works together to see the positives or any opportunities for learning.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Teams who work together so they can share their experiences.

28. Find 10 things in common

Find 10 things in common is an excellent activity for new hires who want to learn more about their teams. When pitching this game make sure everyone lists points that aren’t related to work, for example sharing the same manager and so on. Instead, focus on personal experiences — maybe they went to the same university or have been to the same countries on holiday? Regardless of what they say, the goal of this activity is to get your teams engaging on a more personal level. This not only helps build rapport but also contributes to a healthy company culture.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? New joiners or anyone who has moved to a different department.

29. Share a joke

This is a simple ice breaker, all your teams have to do is share a joke, and that’s it. The cheesier the joke the better. Sharing jokes shows your work environment is a safe space where people can feel vulnerable. Additionally, telling jokes is an easy way to diffuse a heavy meeting atmosphere.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Employees in a long training session who need a fun break to keep them engaged.

30. Whose story is it?

Everybody writes down a funny but true story, which then gets dropped into a hat. Each person then pulls out a story and reads it aloud, then everyone has to guess who wrote it. This activity is especially good for new hires who don’t know their colleagues yet and want to learn fun facts about them.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? New hires or anyone that has moved into a new department.

Quick ice breaker games

If you want a quick and easy ice breaker to lead into a more complex game, we recommend the below activities.

31. Rock paper scissors

Turn the game of rock, paper, scissors into a best of five series. Put everyone into pairs, and allow each person five turns. Keep going until the groups gradually whittle down into the winners, then carry on playing until one person is left.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Employees who don’t know each other well and need an easy activity to get talking.

32. One-word ice breaker

The one-word icebreaker is very useful if you’re running a workshop about company culture. As a guide, this activity works best in groups of 4–5 people and you want at least four groups. Before the meeting, we recommend writing down ten one-word questions, such as ‘what word best describes our current culture?’. This ice breaker should only take 10 minutes to complete and the answers can be a useful segue into talking points throughout the meeting.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Employees who are in a workshop learning about company culture.

33. The hot seat

The hot seat is a fast-paced game that gives your teams an energy boost during a mid-meeting slump. Just grab a chair and prepare a set of questions, or let your employees come up with their own. When a person sits on the chair, anyone can ask them a question, be it a professional or personal one. Once they’ve answered the question, someone else sits in the seat until everyone has had a turn. You can run the hot seat for multiple rounds or just one, it’s up to you.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Everyone, but may work better for employees who don't know each other that well.

34. My slogan

My slogan is a creative ice breaker that encourages employees to think about how their values align with yours. Before the game, it’s useful to prepare a list of famous company slogans or straplines. After showing your team some examples, ask them to create their own based on their personality and values.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? This ice breaker is great for workshops or meetings centred around employee experience and culture.

35. The no smiling challenge

This classic ice breaker is great for lifting spirits in meetings as it always leads to laughter and smiles. All you need to do is tell people not to smile and laugh for a set amount of time, such as 5 minutes. Only a few people can master this challenge and usually everyone is laughing within minutes, if not seconds.

Who can benefit from this ice breaker? Employees who don't work together or new hires.

Can ice breaker games help the onboarding process?

Incorporating ice breaker games into your onboarding process will help your new hires feel welcome and put them at ease. We recommend organising a get-together with their new team after their initial meetings with HR.

Read our helpful guide on the first 100 days of onboarding to set your new joiners up for success

How do ice breaker games contribute to employee experience and company culture?

Ice breaker games can benefit employee experience and company culture, as they bring employees together on a personal level.

Other ways to boost employee experience include introducing a comprehensive benefits package. With our platform, your teams get to choose from over 9,000 global perks with the biggest retailers.

You could also use icebreaker games on a more frequent basis to recharge your employees during long and complicated projects. This keeps their wellbeing in check and reminds them they’re part of a bigger team.

If you want to offer your employees additional wellbeing support, our platform includes a range of mental and physical wellbeing resources that are easily accessible from our app. From mindful meditations to on-demand fitness classes, there’s something for everyone.

Engage employees as teammates and individuals

Increasing engagement can be challenging, so it’s important to understand what keeps your employees focused and performing at their best.

Ice breaker games are one way of keeping your teams engaged and happy. But you should also consider other significant employee experience touchpoints, such as their workload, benefits, and wellbeing.

Learn how Perkbox can help boost engagement among your teams

Fun ice breaker games: your FAQs answered

What are some fun ice breaker games?

Ice breakers are a fun way to encourage team bonding. Some managers use them for speed networking, especially when new teams need to get to know each other quickly before collaborating on a project. Popular games that break the ice include two lies, one truth, scavenger hunts, and tall tales. If your ice breaker game is a competition, you can have as many winners as you want, but it may be easier to stick to three.

What are good ice breaker games?

What are good ice breakers for Zoom?

Create a culture of communication with our reward and recognition guide

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