7 virtual team icebreaker activities to improve employee onboarding
Many businesses around the world have been forced to adopt a remote working approach, the landscape of work has forever been changed.
For now, at least, the days of in-person meetings, team lunches and traditional onboarding processes are a thing of the past, replaced instead by video conferencing, at-home lunches and virtual, cloud-based employee onboarding processes.
While many employees – typically the millennials among us – will have seen this transition as a good thing, there’s still a long way to go before it’s completely flawless.
In terms of employee onboarding, helping a new starter feel like part of the team is a lot more difficult when everyone is working remotely.
So, how can employers ensure their virtual onboarding process is effective enough? And at the same time help new staff members get to grips with new systems while also getting to know their colleagues?
We’ve got a few ideas here which you might find useful.
Using the ideas listed below, we’ll guide you through some of the best virtual icebreaker activities you can use to help your new starters settle in quickly and feel more comfortable.
1. Working remotely? Host a virtual happy hour
It’s only natural for new starters to feel nervous, especially when there’s an avalanche of information and new faces for them to learn.
So, why not arrange some downtime at the end of the week to see how they’ve been getting on with everything?
Since going down to your local pub after work may be slightly more difficult now, hosting a virtual happy hour can be a great way of giving your team the chance to get to know their new colleague.
Let the conversation flow naturally and invite each employee to bring one icebreaker question they’d like to ask, such as what inspired them to find a new career path, and what was their background before?
Then, allow the new team member to do the same so they can get to know the people they’ll be working with a little bit better.
2. Create a work-based Zoom quiz
While some people might not like the idea of yet another Zoom quiz, they can be a fun and highly engaging way of not only maintaining the company culture while working remotely but introducing a new member as well.
Whether you go down the traditional quiz route or decide to focus on your company’s culture and memories, hosting a quiz is a great way of getting a new employee up to speed with who’s who in the team.
Plus, by adding a little bit of friendly competition, this will encourage collaboration and motivate your teams to better communicate with one another.
3. Play two truths, one lie
While on the topic of getting to know colleagues, the two truths one lie game is a great way of finding out a few random facts about each employee.
As its name suggests, this virtual game involves each member of the team sharing three statements about themselves – two of these being true and the other being false.
Then, once all the statements have been read aloud, the remaining team members can work together to try and figure out which of the statements is, in fact, a lie.
While it may sound simple, this game is a great way of breaking the ice and finding out more about an employee’s passions and interests. Plus, it may help when it comes to buying Secret Santa presents later on down the line, as employees will have a better idea of what their fellow colleagues like/dislike.
4. Take the Myers-Briggs assessment
Before arranging a separate virtual meeting between each member of your team and the new employer, ask everyone to complete the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.
Whether your company is mainly made up of extroverts, introverts, feelers, thinkers, judgers or perceivers, getting to know each member on a deeper level will make it easier for remote workers to learn how to communicate most effectively with them.
Plus, you’ll be able to quickly identify which team members share more in common so an appropriate mentor for the new team member can be chosen accordingly.
5. Play Rose, Thorn & Bud
The Rose, Thorn & Bud game is not only a great way of encouraging employees to speak up but it also creates a shared feeling of optimism and energy among the team – which can only be a good thing!
The premise of the game is simple:
1. Start your virtual meeting by asking each team member to share two ‘roses’ – any positives taking place in their life right now
2. Then, ask them to share a ‘thorn’ – some kind of issue or challenge they are currently facing, whether work-related or not
3. Finally, once everyone has shared their individual roses and thorns, ask each team member to share a ‘bud’ – something they’re looking forward to in the not-too-distant future.
By encouraging these types of discussions, your employees will feel a lot more at ease in their work and will be thankful for having an opportunity to get any exciting news or stress off their chest.
It’ll also give your new team member the chance to see how nurturing and supportive an environment your workplace is, making them feel assured in their choice to work with you.
6. Try an online scavenger hunt
Hosting an online scavenger hunt is a fantastic method of improving morale while working from home. So, why not allow your employees to forget about work for a little while and let them have some fun?
This fun, online team-building activity will encourage each employee to use a variety of skills – from strategic thinking to teamwork and problem-solving to efficiency.
To play the game, a facilitator will first come up with a list of home-based objects each virtual team will need to find. Then, after announcing each item individually, each team member will need to turn their camera off while searching around the home for the item.
Once the first person returns with an item and turns their camera back on, they receive ten points. Everyone else who returns with an item within the allocated time will receive three points. Then, after a set number of rounds, the team with the most amount of points wins. Simple.
Read next: Virtual onboarding - a guide for success
7. Encourage group coffee breaks
When you think about how the employee onboarding process would be in an office-based environment, coffee breaks are one of the most effective ways of getting to know one other.
Set up a virtual room where employees can drop in and out as they wish, allowing everyone to have a quick one-to-one chat with each other about various non-work-related issues.
Even if it’s simply a five-minute biscuit break in between writing reports, your new team member will appreciate having the chance to get to know their team whenever they feel ready to.
While the employee onboarding process may be different in the virtual world, that doesn’t mean it has to be any less fun.
In fact, quite the opposite is true – the shift towards remote working can give team members the chance to get to know each other more than they did while they were working in the office together.
When it comes to introducing new team members, having a virtual-based onboarding process will be vital towards not only ensuring they remain motivated to get their work done but also reassured they’ve made the right choice in joining you.