We've put together the ultimate free guide to ice breakers. It's 10 beautiful chapters with 100+ awesome ideas that you can try out.
Written by Heather Harper
Last updated: Mar 30, 2020
Ice breaking, which is something done, or said, to relax the unduly formal atmosphere of a situation, is a fun and imaginative way to improve team bonding and relationships.
We’ve put together the ultimate free guide to ice breakers. It’s 10 beautiful chapters with over 100 ideas for anyone to try.
If you're looking for great icebreaker ideas for your team members, then this is the ultimate guide for you. In this guide, we're going to show you a range of icebreaker activities that will improve company culture and help people trust one another.
The aim of all our icebreakers is that they are fun and only require a small amount of time.
If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our 7000 word guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 40 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.
So, sit tight and prepare to smash through the ice like an overweight polar bear…
Traditionally, humans have always lived in small and stable societies. However, the ever developing culture of the workplace means that societies, and human interactions, are becoming larger and far more dynamic.
With the change of society, comes the constant formation of groups. However, joining a new group, such as a work team, may often feel unnatural, uneasy and prompt excessive worries of how to interact and behave with our new colleagues.
Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced those first day nerves. Wouldn’t it be handy if there was a quick and fun way to resolve our ‘newbie anxiety’.
Well, ice breaking activities, designed to be short and sweet ways to break down the barriers between employees to help them to get to know and understand each other, are just the solution.
When used properly, this initial breaking of the ice will leave teams content, enthused and trusting; promoting successful and strong teams.
Like all team based activities, there are many advantages of using icebreakers to overcome the initial awkwardness that naturally happens when a group of new people are put together. Below are a number of ways in which ice breakers can benefit your team.
According to a report by TinyPulse, the vast majority of workers feel detached from their coworkers, with only 24% of people reporting that they feel connected to their peers. Which in turn, leads to employees feeling disengaged, being less productive, and more prone to work-related stress and burnout.
While it’s unlikely that they’ll become best friends overnight, ice breaker games open the door for people to get to know one another and start building that all-important sense of community within the workplace. Research has shown that even simple icebreakers that ask participants to talk about themselves were incredibly powerful in developing trust and likability amongst people, even if they only ever interact online.
Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that icebreakers that get everyone to participate in the same activity together drastically reduces the amount of time it would normally take for people to get comfortable collaborating with one another.
Whether you’re introducing a new hire to the company or leading an important meeting, icebreakers give people an idea of what to expect when moving forward and allow the barriers of organisational hierarchy to be broken down.
For example, when running a meeting where you want to encourage everyone to actively participate and contribute new ideas, ice breakers can be used at the start of the session to give everyone the chance to speak their mind without worrying about hierarchy.
A lot of the focus of this chapter will be on using icebreakers for teams that have been formed for a while and to be used during meetings. However, many people forget that icebreaker questions can be used on new teams.
In fact, research has shown that when used early on in training, icebreakers can improve the training process because they improve communication and transparency throughout teams.
Due to all the above mentioned things, the use of icebreaker exercises eventually creates better teams. For instance, the Japanese place a massive emphasis on team building and ice breaking, and it is believed that this has led to the success of their culture through constant communication and exchange.
Before you dive head first into the ice, it is important to remember that icebreaking is only effective when carried out properly. To avoid bored eye rolls and sighs, it is critical that your icebreaking is engaging, accurate and fun.
Having a goal in any kind of team activity is really important, with research finding that having clear goals improves team effectiveness.
When deciding what ice breakers to use, it is important to know what you’re working towards and what you want to achieve from your icebreaker session. If you just want to use icebreakers as a quick introduction, then don’t spend a whole day on icebreakers.
One of the biggest problems with icebreaker games is that the individual and their comfort zones are often ignored. This leads to employees feeling uncomfortable and not involving themselves in their activities properly, meaning they won’t get the best out of the ice breaking session.
Ice breakers are designed to break down social barriers and make all team members feel equal. Whilst playing ice breakers, ignore the hierarchy and authority within your team and encourage everyone to interact.
Overall, we recommend following 10 simple rules when breaking the ice:
About the author
Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specialising in organizational psychology - helping teams work better together.