12 Awesome Onboarding Activities for New Team Members
Whether your team works together in person, in a hybrid environment, or fully remotely, onboarding activities are crucial in getting new team members engrained with your organization and ensuring they truly feel like part of the team from the outset.
Here’s the thing about hiring new employees: you only get one chance to make a great first impression, and that’s why the right onboarding activities are so vital.
Your organization’s onboarding process is what helps new hires get acclimated to their role, become engrained in the company’s culture and philosophies, and to truly feel like part of the team.
But don’t just take our word for it—86% of new hires decide whether to stay or leave within six months and 69% of employees are likely to stay at an organization for 3 years or more if they had a good onboarding experience.
And in a world where remote work is becoming just as prominent as in-office work, your onboarding checklist and the onboarding activities you include in it are more important than ever.
Here are some ideas to consider.
- 7 In-Person Onboarding Activities for New Team Members
- Host a Team Icebreaker Event
- Do a Scavenger Hunt
- Set Up a Lunch and Learn About Your Company
- Enlist Some Professional Skills Training
- Play Lunch Roulette During the First Week
- Do a Show and Tell
- Get Out and Give Back
- 5 Virtual Onboarding Activities for New Remote Hires
7 In-Person Onboarding Activities for New Team Members
Your new employees’ first week in the office is a formative and impactful one. These onboarding activities will help ensure they feel right at home from day one.
Host a Team Icebreaker Event
The great thing about team building icebreakers is that you can learn so much about your colleagues in a way that feels natural, light-hearted, and low-pressure. From their virtual working habits to their favorite foods, personal things about them, or even some hilarious, outside-the-box facts, these icebreakers help them to get better acquainted.
So, get your team together to chat through some incredible icebreaker questions, like:
- If you could add a word to the dictionary, what would you add and what would it mean?
- The zombie apocalypse is coming. Who are three people you want on your team?
- If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?
- Teleportation or flying?
- If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
- If you had 25 hours each day, how would you use your extra time?
- If you were a wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?
- If you were a superhero what would your name be?
- If you were a superhero what would your superpower be and why?
- What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever given?
Looking for even more? Find 289 others in our article offering featuring the best icebreaker questions for work.
Do a Scavenger Hunt
There are few things more fun, engaging, and collaborative than a scavenger hunt team building activity. So, incorporating them as one of your onboarding activities can be a great way to help your new employees connect with their colleagues—and for your existing staff to spend some quality time together.
In this scavenger hunt activity, your team can get out of the office and explore your city in a whole new way. Together, your team will need to think outside the box, bond as a group, and venture outside into the community in order to complete a series of fun and unique photo and video challenges.
You’ll need to tackle a list of challenges, including:
- Snap a photo of your team standing next to a large public clock that reads EXACTLY 22 minutes past the hour
- Search for a business that is open 24 hours 7 days a week and snap a photo of a team member with the sign showing the business’ hours
- Snap a photo of a teammate next to a vehicle that has an “antique” or “collectible” license plate
- Head to a nearby playground and take a photo of your entire team balanced on a seesaw. Here’s the catch: everyone’s feet must be off the ground while balanced!
- Find a hopscotch course or use a piece of chalk to create your own on a sidewalk. Record a 5-second video of a teammate hopping and completing it
- Stage a martial arts battle with another team in a nearby park. Record a 5-second video of both teams facing each other (with plenty of space between you) and doing the famous crane kick
The team with the most points when time runs out will be named the winners!
Looking for a fun and simple scavenger hunt for your team? Then you’ll love the Selfie Challenge scavenger hunt.
The premise is simple: your group just needs to break into teams and head out into the city (or office or any other location you choose!) to take selfies that match a predetermined list.
To make this extra fun, we recommend making it last for a few days—or even a week—so that you can incorporate some really fun and interesting selfies, like:
- On top of a mountain
- At a zoo
- In a bar
- With your pets
- When you first wake up
- In a forest
- By a lake
- You can also include some quicker and simpler ones, such as:
- With your team
- By a statue
- In a mirror
- With a teammate’s lookalike
- Making a human pyramid
- With a stranger
The opportunities are virtually endless for this team building scavenger hunt.
Inspired by the popular reality TV show The Amazing Race – on which teams race around the world, with each leg of the competition requiring the groups to solve puzzles, interact with locals, and complete challenges – this interactive scavenger hunt has teams following clues around their city and taking on physical and mental challenges to move on to the next destination.
With more teams in play, the stakes are even higher, and the competition is even more fierce.
If you’re looking for even more ideas for scavenger hunts, check out our list of scavenger hunt team building activities for workgroups.
Set Up a Lunch and Learn About Your Company
Great lunch and learns are engaging, outcome-oriented, and give your team real value in exchange for your time.
And while there are a ton of great topics for lunch-and-learns—such as professional soft skills, life skills, and more, the most advantageous topics for onboarding activities are the ones that are focused on your company.
Order some food, put together a presentation, and take everyone through what they need to know about your products or services.
If you’re unfamiliar with cross-training, it refers to the concept of coworkers teaching each other the ins and outs of their respective roles. This is important because it helps employees to appreciate each other’s jobs and recognize all of the duties that each person does—even those they may have overlooked before.
In the capacity of an onboarding activity, cross-training is also important because it helps new hires get familiarized with all facets of your organization and business.
Enlist Some Professional Skills Training
One of the best ways to show your new employees that you care about their development right off the bat is to enlist professional skills training as an onboarding activity.
This training should focus on valuable skills that will make them more of an asset in their new roles.
This training and development program will help you and your team to:
- Increase self-awareness
- Learn to self-regulate behaviors
- Develop better social skills for leadership
- Use emotionally intelligent motivators
- Develop a greater sense of empathy
It’s a valuable tool in creating a stronger and more functional team.
This training session will help your team minimize distractions and make the most of their time at the office.
It focuses on:
- Aligning your team with your organization’s top priorities
- Learning time management and delegation principles
- Minimizing workplace distractions and increasing efficiency
- Enhancing work rhythms for better team productivity
- Prioritizing tasks using best-in-class tools and software
This is a great onboarding activity because it will help your new hires and existing team to feel like they’re able to achieve everything they need to during the workday without feeling rushed or stressed about time.
Play Lunch Roulette During the First Week
If you want to help your new hires get to know their colleagues better, consider using your first week to play lunch roulette—randomly setting up (and paying for, if possible!) lunch meetings between your new hires and various people within the organization.
One fun way to do this is to put the names of all staff members onto individual pieces of paper and then drawing the names from a hat each day.
This onboarding activity will help your new hires get to know their teammates better in a low-pressure social environment—all while enjoying a great bite to eat!
Do a Show and Tell
This harkens back to your younger years in school but it’s just as fun as an adult. And, most importantly, it’s a great way to learn more about your new hires in a fun, engaging, and lighthearted way, making it an ideal onboarding activity.
All you need to do is ask each attendee to bring something they’d like to show off. It can be an item, a video, a song—even a person! Then, they’ll give an explanation of whatever it is to your group.
Get Out and Give Back
Employees expect their employers to give back and make a difference in the world. In fact, 82% of companies report that their employees want to volunteer with their peers in a corporate-supported event.
That’s why a philanthropic team building activity is such a wise onboarding activity: it truly shows your new team members that your organization is a citizen of the world.
Split into teams to build, decorate, and put together an advertising campaign for children’s bicycles. After each group has presented their bike, you get to donate them all to a charity of your choice!
Feel like getting out and spreading some kindness? We recommend it! Doing good in the world is good for you. In fact, it actually builds team morale. Random Acts of Kindness fuses the scavenger hunt concept with a philanthropic twist. This team building activity gets teams racing against one another to try and complete as many good deeds as possible before time runs out.
Class is in session with this philanthropic activity where your team will be tested by a variety of education-themed teamwork challenges, share a special bonding experience, and support local children in need by competing to fill backpacks with school supplies and donating them to charity.
5 Virtual Onboarding Activities for New Remote Hires
If your team works remotely or operates in a hybrid model, your onboarding activities are critically important to building bonds between colleagues, supporting company culture, and boosting team morale in the absence of in-person connections.
We’ve got some ideas for how to make your virtual onboarding activities impactful and unforgettable.
Host a Virtual Happy Hour
Get your team together for some social time with a virtual happy hour on your preferred video conferencing platform.
While you might be wondering how sitting around having solo cocktails while looking at your colleagues on a screen can be fun or engaging as an onboarding activity, the trick is to make it engaging with some fun games.
Water or Not Water
Have you seen the HBO show Run? It’s what made this game really popular. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry. This game is incredibly simple.
Essentially, all you need to do is have each team member pour a few shot glasses—some filled with a transparent alcoholic spirit, and one filled with water.
During each round, one person chooses a glass and takes a shot. That player then says either that the liquid they drank was “water” or “not water.” Everyone else then takes turns guessing whether they’re telling the truth or not based on their facial expression.
This is no ordinary happy hour trivia game. In this activity, you and your team will take a trip to Hamish McDuff’s virtual pub. This hilarious Scottish pub owner is the legendary host of a trivia game with more than 20 category options to choose from, including sports, food and drink, and even celebrity real estate. This virtual pub trivia game is guaranteed to produce plenty of laughs and lift team “spirits.” It might even include a few special surprises.
Up Close and Personal
Here’s a weird question, but have you ever looked at something really closely zoomed in? Believe it or not, it can be really tough to recognize everyday items when you zoom in close on them. And therein lies a fun game!
Find some photos of items closely zoomed (you can find a bunch here). Then, share your screen with your colleagues and go through different photos, seeing who can guess each item correctly. Give a point for each correct response and, once you’re out of photos, see who got the most right.
Looking for more ideas? Check out this list of unbeatable virtual happy hour games for workgroups.
Create an Onboarding Welcome Video
Even though your new remote employees can’t meet their colleagues in person right away, that doesn’t mean they can’t at least hear from them and put some names to faces.
That’s where creating an onboarding welcome video comes into play: you can record a short clip from each employee in the organization where they welcome their new teammate, introduce themselves, and tell the new team member something about themselves.
Then, share the video with your new hire on their first day.
Host a Virtual Team Lunch
Think you and your team can’t have lunch together just because you live in different geographic areas? Think again!
For a great virtual onboarding activity, you can consider buying your remote employees’ lunch and then having everyone connect on a video conferencing platform to share a meal together.
To make this extra personal, you can break the group up into smaller “breakout rooms” where they can chat with a few people at once before switching to another room with a new set of people.
And UberEats makes it easy to pay for your employees’ meals. With a corporate account, you can share a code that allows your staff to charge their food to your corporate account up to a pre-set dollar value.
Play Virtual Onboarding Bingo
Here’s a fun way to help virtual employees get better acquainted: create a basic bingo board and play virtual bingo as an onboarding activity.
The board can include things like:
- Loves coffee in the morning
- Has a unique pet
- Has an expensive hobby
- Is an avid exerciser
- Plays an instrument
- Can sing
- Has been to South America
The options are virtually endless!
All you need to do is have someone draw each item from the board in random order. Ask each person to call out when they hear one that applies to them and then mark it down. The first person to get five in a row yells bingo!
The benefit here is that, by hearing who gets which item on the board, players learn a lot about each other simply by being involved.
If you want to help your new remote teammates to use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills right off the bat, there are a few ways more fun than a mysterious virtual team building activity.
An up-and-coming actress has been found dead in her hotel room the morning after an awards show. Now, you and your remote team need to channel your inner detectives as you review the evidence, assess potential suspects, and determine the method, motive, and murderer in the crime.
In this virtual escape room experience, your team will be transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. You’ll have to work together to uncover clues and solve complex challenges to lift the ancient curse.
Using video conferencing software alongside Outback’s proprietary app, your group will split into teams, examine clues, review case files, and channel their inner detectives as they race against the clock to solve the mystery of who had the means, motive, and opportunity to murder Neil Davidson.
For in-person and remote employees alike, one thing is for certain: hosting onboarding activities for new hires is the foundation on which successful, productive, and happy careers with your organization are built.
Does your organization do any in-person or virtual onboarding activities for new hires? If so, let us know what it is in the comments section below!
Learn about team building and training sessions that you can incorporate into your onboarding activities.
If you’ve got questions about team building or training sessions you can use as onboarding activities, reach out to an Employee Engagement Consultant.