7 icebreaker games to make your new hire orientation anything but boring

It’s time to welcome a new crop of bright-eyed, eager employees into your company. Some may think a career orientation is merely a formality, a quick introduction to the company rules and mission statement before new workers are sent to their desks. Not so! “Orientation is important because it lays a foundation for the new employee’s entire career with the department,” explains Oregon State University. “First impressions are important since they establish the basis for everything that follows.”

A great orientation experience will leave new employees feeling excited and motivated to start their job. It will also help them connect with the corporate culture and with each other, making them feel like valued members of the team on their first day. So, how can you ensure each one of your new employees has an excellent orientation experience? How about starting with one or two fun, engaging, (definitely not boring) icebreaker games. Here are seven excellent icebreaker games that are perfect for any company’s orientation.

1. Company trivia

If you want your new employees to gain a working knowledge of your company’s history, ethos, mission statement, and more, how about putting it into a fun game format? Ask your new recruits to take out their smartphones and use Poll Everywhere to launch a trivia game that lets everyone watch answers populate in real-time.

There are endless questions you can ask:

  •         What year was the company founded?
  •         How many employees do we have?
  •         Which of the following is our correct logo?

Spice things up by adding fun (and appropriate) questions about the CEO. Like, “What’s the name of our CEO’s goldfish?”

2. Office scavenger hunt

Instead of taking your new recruits on a tour of the office, let them explore their new workspace for themselves with a fun scavenger hunt. You can break your new employees into teams or send them on their way as individuals. Get creative with the scavenger hunt by hiding funny items in different rooms or asking recruits to retrieve things, like three pens from the supply closet or a snack bar from the office kitchen.

Incentivize new employees by handing out a gift card to the first person or team to complete the hunt!

3. Partner introduction

Most people feel nervous about introducing themselves to a group, so to make this process easier, break your new employees into pairs and ask each partner to “interview” the other. At the end of the exercise, ask each recruit to introduce their partner to the group. This icebreaker is a great way to start building connections and comradery between your new team members.

To grease the wheels of this activity, hand out a list of sample questions for participants to ask each other.

4. Ten things in common


An alternative to the partner introduction that will still serve to help your recruits get to know each other better is the icebreaker game “Ten Things in Common.” Again, you’ll want to split your group into pairs. This time ask the partners to find ten things they have in common. Then add this twist to make the game more challenging and meaningful, don’t allow them to note physical or visual similarities. For example, “We both have brown hair” won’t work. Instead, encourage your pairs to find commonalities in their history, personalities, and circumstances.

5. Coworker scavenger hunt

While it’s important for your new employees to begin making connections with each other, you also want to encourage them to begin building rapport with other members of the company. A coworker scavenger hunt is the perfect way to do this. Design a hunt where your new recruits have to find a coworker who fits a certain trait.

Sample scavenger hunt topics could be:

  • Find someone who drives a blue car
  • Find someone who has worked for the company ten years or longer
  • Find someone whose favorite color is pink

Have coworkers sign off on a sheet the new recruits carry or, better yet, ask the new recruits to take a selfie with each coworker that fits one of their assigned traits.

6. Who is it?

Ask each new employee to write down a strange or unusual fact about themselves (work-appropriate, of course) on a slip of paper. Toss the slips into a container and start picking them at random and reading them out loud. Ask the group to try and figure out who is connected to each fact. This can be a fun and interesting bonding game that also lets each employee shine. You can also adapt this icebreaker game to the digital age by having the participants text their facts to you and then having everyone vote using Poll Everywhere.

7. The marshmallow challenge

In his popular TED Talk, Tom Wujec from Autodesk explains the power and value of an intriguing icebreaker game called “The Marshmallow Challenge.” Teams are given a handful of dry spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and a marshmallow and tasked with building the highest tower. The twist is that the marshmallow has to be on top. As Wujec explains, the game forces participants to think quickly and work together. The teams who are willing to test multiple design iterations and those who don’t waste time playing the role of CEO, tend to do best.

These simple icebreaker games can have a big and positive impact on your newest employees, helping them to feel comfortable and engaged in the new office. Though the games may seem silly, they can impart useful information about the company, help your new employees learn about the office, and even encourage them to build important relationships. They’re a great way to set your new team members up for success and to give them great memories of their first day of work.

Poll Everywhere can help you make your orientation even more special. Our software makes it fun and easy to design custom quizzes, polls, surveys, and more. Sign up to start creating engaging polls today.