Have you ever been in a social setting where you didn’t know anyone? How about a meeting where someone forgot to introduce you to the rest of the team? Remember your first day at work? Chances are, unless you’re a bona fide social butterfly and total extrovert, these situations bring up feelings of anxiety. Breaking down the barriers that separate strangers is difficult for a normal person to do, but also a very rewarding one. And in the case of any company, whether large or small, a very necessary one.
Corporate team building is essential to any business and manager that wants to succeed. Without a strong team bond lines of communication often break down and decrease effectiveness, whether it’s marketing, sales, engineering, or HR. This is even more important for growing companies that naturally are dealing with a lot of internal changes.
Team building activities, therefore, are not just for getting to know your college dorm mates, they are important for creating an environment that fosters employee engagement.
The following corporate team building ice breakers are dynamic, fun, and sure to get everyone involved, from the senior level to new hires. Check them out below and find one to use at your next corporate gathering.
Find Shared Experiences
One of the best ways to get to know someone is through finding shared experiences and these team building icebreakers capitalize on that. A good, standard one to use is finding 10 things in common, allowing people to share a few unique details about themselves and discover similarities between themselves and their colleagues. It goes something like this and should only take about 10-15 minutes:
- Divide your participants up into groups of four of five people
- Tell everyone in the groups to find ten things in common with all the other members of their group, making sure to not do the obvious like “we all breathe air, we all drive cars”
- Have one person from each group read aloud their list of ten things to everyone else, resulting in laughter and sparking more discussion
Icebreakers are meant to reduce tension and inhibitions so when someone realizes they have more in common than previously expected with their coworkers, this translates to better working relationships and more collaborations. This list contains some solid, easy to answer questions to ask participants in a simple icebreaker exercise sure to benefit any group of people.
Share a Meal
Bonding over food is at the very fiber of the human experience. There’s no better (or more delicious) way to get to know the people you’re working with than sharing in an experience of the senses, from smell, taste, touch, sight and lip smacking sound. Bonding over a mutual love of an amazing taco, a savory crepe, or some tasty BBQ is the ultimate team building icebreaker, and one that often requires no talking at all. At Roaming Hunger we have first-hand experience with this phenomenon. Every week our company hires one of our favorite food trucks to come and cater a company lunch. This ritual has leads to more bonding between employees and teams than any other corporate exercise we’ve ever tried.
Standing in line and waiting for your food allows for conversation and connecting. Once those delicious pork belly sliders are handed to you through the window, food truck fare lends itself to being best enjoyed standing up while chatting with coworkers and getting those first impressions out of the way. Icebreakers are meant to develop a sense of community in a group of people and nothing helps people relate more than a mutual desire for an amazing lunch. A catered lunch will get people out of their seats much quicker than snacks or a cold boxed lunch, and will definitely keep team members on site rather than breaking for lunch with everyone going their separate ways. Rally your team around great food and book a food truck.
Offbeat corporate team building icebreakers will loosen everyone up and create a light-hearted atmosphere guaranteed to get people connecting. Icebreakers like the paper airplane game or the balloon pop are perfect for livening things up while helping people learn names and facts about their new coworkers. There’s something about paper airplanes flying around the room and balloons being popped that creates a semi-chaotic atmosphere perfect for team bonding.
If traditional icebreakers just aren’t your company’s thing, go all out on the creativity scale and plan an improv session, hire face painters (the best way to get people laughing), or whatever else will help energize and motive employees to participate. One of the benefits of icebreakers are that they help to foster creativity because they require being imaginative, so the crazier the better if innovative employees are your goal.
Nothing breaks the ice more than sharing a laugh, making humor possibly the best team building icebreaker technique. The No Smiling icebreaker involves, you guessed it, nobody being permitted to smile for a certain amount of time, resulting in a quick and fun activity that gets everyone laughing. The Toaster Game is another clever icebreaker that involves putting whacky condiments on toast and whoever is speaking when the toast pops up is then challenged to eat that piece. Funny icebreakers do best with a group of people who are all up for a little silliness, so make sure everyone is on board when doing these in order to see the best results.
So why do you need icebreakers at your next corporate picnic, retreat, or meeting? Icebreakers help people relax and encourage open communication, skills that your company can always improve on and benefit from. From food to laughter, find what works for your company’s team building goals and get ready for increased success.