The best team-building icebreaker games to try with your team

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Team-building is, without a shadow of a doubt, something that you should be investing in if you are leading a team. It boosts productivity, increases employee motivation, and encourages collaboration. Team-building, when done well, can also inspire effective problem-solving, mitigates conflict, and keeps employees feeling connected.

The biggest benefit of team-building, though? That it builds trust and respect among employees – or, to coin an emerging term among workplace experts, foster a sense of “psychological safety”. If you are building a new team and you don’t know where to start from when it comes to bringing people together, one of the easiest ways is to introduce team-building icebreaker games into your weekly routine.

What is a team-building icebreaker game?

Of course, icebreaker games can’t compare to elaborate team-building experiences or week-long off-sites, but they can help you build connections within your team.

An icebreaker game is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to reap the benefits of team-building, as these short, simple games are perfectly designed to prime our brains for planning and problem-solving.

When should you play a team-building icebreaker game?

It’s a good idea to have your colleagues play a team-building icebreaker game during the five or ten minutes before a problem-solving or brainstorming meeting. Doing so doesn’t just energise employees and get them ready to work; it also allows them to get comfortable with speaking up and actively contributing to the group, without fear. 

This means that taking the time to build and foster this sense of “psychological safety” will lead to more collaborative and effective meetings as a result.

What are the benefits of playing a team-building icebreaker game?

There are so many benefits to playing a team-building icebreaker game with your colleagues – not least of all, it will help everyone remember each other’s names!

A good team-building icebreaker game can:

So, with all that in mind, what are the best good team-building icebreaker games to introduce to your colleagues? 

We’ve rounded up some of the most effective, to help you on your way:

“Put your team on the map”

One of the easiest and best team-building icebreaker games demands that you source a globe/world map, some coloured pens, and some sticky notes. The concept is simple; challenge your colleagues to draw a picture of themselves and stick it onto the map to show where they grew up. Then, as you go over people’s answers, try asking them to share one fun fact about their hometown – or an internal value they learned through living there.

This game can easily be adapted for online purposes; you’ll just need to have people use a digital sticky note or an emoji to mark themselves on the map instead!

“Two truths and a lie”

This team-building icebreaker game is an oldie but a goodie, and one which many of us will have played before – perhaps at a party or a college mixer. All it asks is that each employee shares three statements about themselves – two true, and one false. Then, everyone tries to guess which of the statements is the lie, by asking questions and trying to gauge their colleague’s reactions.

It’s a game that works just as well over Zoom as it does in person, and it’s one that allows introverts and extroverts alike the chance to shine – not to mention shatter their colleagues’ preconceived opinions of them.

“Whose story is it?”

Another classic team-building icebreaker, this game challenges employees to write down their weirdest and most wonderful anecdote, fold it up, and drop it into a jar. Next, it’s up to the person running the workshop to pull out the anecdotes and read them aloud to the group, challenging everyone present to try and guess whose story it is. 

Again, this game works just as well over Zoom as it does IRL; just be sure to swap the jar for an email or private slack message.

“Bye bye baby”

This team-building icebreaker game involves a little prep work, as it demands that players send a baby photo of themselves to the workshop facilitator ahead of time. During the session, these pictures will be shared and employees tasked with figuring out whose is whose. 

It’s a fun and lighthearted way to get to know one another better, not to mention build trust and a sense of camaraderie.

“Scavenger hunt”

This team-building icebreaker game works well over Zoom and IRL, and requires little to no planning. Grab a timer, and tell everyone they have 60 seconds to find one each of the following:

Keep an eye on who comes back first (you’ll want to dish out prices accordingly) and be sure to go around the group so people have a chance to explain why they chose the items they did. It might be an idea to dish out a prize to the most imaginative scavenger, too!

“10 things in common”

Another easy team-building icebreaker game, this one challenges your colleagues to get talking to one another. Break them up into small groups / Zoom meeting rooms, and challenge them to find 10 things that everyone in their group has in common (besides the obvious, of course; we already know where they all work, for example).

Afterwards, get all the groups back together and have a spokesperson from each share what they have learned with the rest of their employees. 

There are, of course, lots more team-building icebreaker games out there; you could play a business-focused version of Pictionary or Charades, for example – or break everyone up into teams and attempt to build the tallest freestanding structure out of toy blocks and office equipment. You could, too, challenge everyone to interview their colleagues and find out three facts about three people they’ve never spoken to before. Or you could even pour a box of treats onto the table and ask everyone to select the chocolate that best represents them – before challenging them to explain which they picked and why to the group.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of a good team-building icebreaker game; it’s one of the easiest ways to break down barriers, get people talking, and kick-start major meetings or long training sessions.