Employee Onboarding Activities for New Team Members

By: | Updated: December 10, 2023

You discovered our list of new employee onboarding activities.

Employe onboarding activities are ideas and games to welcome new team members. Example activities include doing in-house tours, playing on-boarding icebreakers, and offering onboarding gifts. The purpose of these activities is to help introduce new employees  and make them feel part of the team. Therefore, these ideas require the participation of the existing team members.

These events are in-person versions of virtual onboarding ideas and are similar to intern orientations. You can find tips about running these events in books on onboarding and our guide to the onboarding process.

This article covers

  • creative employee onboarding activities
  • fun ways to introduce new team members
  • new hire orientation ideas
  • fun ways to welcome new employees
  • new employee meet and greet questions
  • onboarding activities for new employees
  • onboarding games

Let’s begin.

List of employee onboarding activities

Here are some fun and creative employee onboarding ideas to try at the office.

1. Onboarding Bingo

Onboarding Bingo is among the leading onboarding games for new hires. This game contains engaging prompts that new members can play with existing teams.

Members use an onboarding-themed Bingo card to play and check off prompts that contain common information about the players. Players may team up in small groups of about five members to make the game more engaging. In case you have multiple new hires, the team can form several groups and include at least one newcomer in each group.

Here is a template we made for your game:

The onboarding Bingo helps team members know each other and nurtures camaraderie.

For more ideas, check out online team building Bingo.

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2. In-house tours

Going around the company offices and meeting the occupants is one of the best ways to orient new employees and familiarize them with colleagues. Having a team member take the new employee around ensures that the staff feels comfortable, has someone to talk to, and creates a chance for bonding.

In-house tours allow new team members to learn where each office is located. This orientation process, therefore, quickens settling down.

Tip: Most folks feel shy on their first day to work. When doing an office show-around, let the new employee see important facilities such as the restroom, water cooler, and the office kitchen. This awareness helps to reduce day one awkwardness.

3. Staff introduction

Staff introductions are among the best onboarding ideas for new bosses. This activity is a perfect team building choice for boosting camaraderie and initializing networking.

Staff introductions involve the entire team or part of it gathering in one place, and then members introduce themselves

Various fun forms of introductions include:

i. Alliteration intros

In alliteration intros, a staff plays their part by introducing themselves with an adjective and their name. The main rule for this introduction game is that the first letter of the team member’s name should also be the first letter of the accompanying adjective. For example, Funny Freddy, Jovial Jane, or Zealous Zack.

It is a best practice that colleagues use an adjective that closely describes who they are. This idea aims at making the on-boarders get a feel of the colleagues’ characters. Also, combining the adjective and the name enhances recalling folks’ names.

ii. Repeated intros

In this activity, employees say their names, and the new member repeats them. For instance, if a member introduces himself as Alex, the new boss may say, “Pleasure to meet you, Alex,” or “How are you, Alex.”

This simple game engages the team by possibly spurring up conversations and further socialization.

iii. Departmental intros

This introduction activity happens at a departmental level, where the new boss meets the staff in their department or office. Each member then introduces themselves with a name, position, and brief description of other roles not outlined in the job description.

It is helpful to inform the entire team of the new boss’ arrival. This way, staff schedule a time and place to meet the new leader. Teams may also assign a member to give their boss a welcome speech.

Variations that work similarly include branch and subsidiaries teams introductions, where the boss meets teams in different localities.

With a few tweaks, these ideas also work well in introducing a new junior staff or any other recruits.

Here are more get to know you activities.

4. New employee meet and greet questions

Question and answer activities are among the best onboarding games for new hires. These exercises help to build self-confidence and friendships within the team.

Teams may engage new staff in a two-way question-and-answer. For instance, in the first round, team members ask the new employee questions, and the new employee answers. In the next round, the newcomer asks the questions and the rest of the team members answer.

The common forms of question-and-answer that work well with new team members are icebreaker questions, trivia questions, and this-or-that? questions.

The icebreakers questions may include:

  • What is your most interesting observation in the new office?
  • Which is your favorite travel destination?
  • What kinds of pets do you have?
  • What is your favorite pastime?
  • Who is your favorite celebrity?
  • What do you love about this city?

This-or-that? questions may include:

  • McDonald’s or Burger King?
  • Reading books or watching movies?
  • Walking or riding bicycles?
  • Radio or television?
  • Tea or coffee?
  • Card games or board games?

Making the questions two-way makes the onboarding question-and-answer more involving to the team initiates.

For instance, the new hire may ask:

  • How was your first day at work?
  • What are your expectations for my first week of onboarding?
  • What is your typical weekend like?
  • What excites you most about working for this organization?

If you are looking to know more about each other, then question-and-answer is an effective method.

Check out more fun question games for groups.

5. Team onboarding welcome card

Writing a team onboarding welcome card is one of the leading ways of receiving recruits. In addition, writing a single card to welcome a new employee demonstrates team unity and collaboration.

The content in the card includes welcome notes, encouragement notes, positive office quotes, and funny or general onboarding advice. To conduct this activity, every colleague writes a message on the card and signs off with their name and respective department to facilitate the newcomer’s familiarity with the team.

Here are examples of welcome notes to write on a card.

  • We are glad to have you on our team. Welcome!
  • Congratulations on your new job. We hope you’ll enjoy working with us.
  • Welcome aboard. I am looking forward to seeing the magic that you will bring.
  • We are excited to have you. Your skills will be of great benefit to the company.

When writing the welcome messages, team members should focus on boosting the newcomer’s confidence and influencing the right attitude for the job. Suggesting to the newbie that the team is a wonderful group is likely to trigger trust. Nonetheless, the messages should be genuine.

Card writing is an engaging team activity that leaves a lasting impression. Handwritten cards add a personal touch and make the messages feel powerful. Therefore, the team welcome card efficiently makes the new hire feel at home.

For inspiration, here is a list of employee appreciation messages.

6. Onboarding pal system

An onboarding pal system is among the most hospitable ideas for welcoming new members to the team. The system involves assigning colleagues to keep the new hire engaged during the first few days at work.

The team member chosen as the onboarding pal is responsible for guiding the new staff on the general company aspects, from company culture to day-to-day activities. This friend also acts as the first contact person should the newcomer have any queries.

The onboarding pal system efficiently reduces newcomers’ loneliness, shyness, and anxiety from interacting with a new environment. Therefore this system is the perfect onboarding team building activity for boosting employee confidence, showing compassion, and integrating new staff.

7. Office onboarding brochure

An office adventure brochure tops the list of fun onboarding event ideas for teams. The booklet contains fun team building ideas and guides to assist with the onboarding processes

The office onboarding brochures contents may include:

  • About the team section to brief on borders on unique team details, such as the team size and team rules
  • Team building activities and games that teams can engage in
  • Exciting facilities nearby, like restaurants, parks, and zoos to suggest team ideas for a lunch break and after-work activities
  • Office entertainment and facilities such as gyms and staff canteen
  • Community building activities, such as an overview of the team’s charity works
  • Emergency responses such as the fire alarms location to enhance team disaster preparedness

The purpose of the office onboarding brochure is to spark curiosity in the new hire and encourage them to participate in the team activities. This brochure is a team building tool that aids in assimilating new members into the team.

Teams can create various themed office onboarding brochures to match relevant activities. For example, including a swimming competition in summer brochures while reserving activities like sledding for winter activities.

8. Meal-sharing events

Sharing a meal is among the traditional but fun onboarding activities for new hires. This activity promotes empathy, helps reduce shyness, unifies members, and creates conversations. Here are ways teams may share a meal with a new employee.

  • Eating out, for example, in a restaurant
  • Sharing a meal in a central place at the office, for instance, at the staff canteen
  • Doing a lunchbox-style potluck where members share and exchange foodstuffs from their packed food.
  • Hosting a cooking event where team members try out various recipes and then sample the cooked foods.

These activities encourage communal eating with the new hires and promote a sense of belonging. Also, the sharing is a learning opportunity for team members’ tastes, food preferences, and possibly food allergies.

There are no restrictions as to what kind of meal to share. Teams may enjoy brunches, AM coffee and snacks, or lunch. Thus, sharing a meal is an effective activity to foster bonding among team members and nurture mutual responsibility for each other.

9. Onboarding shadowing

Onboarding shadowing is an inspirational team building activity for developing leadership skills, boosting confidence, and empowering team members.

Onboarding shadowing involves assigning the new staff to a mentor. To shadow, the newbie observes the mentor performing their responsibilities, learns from the mentor’s actions, and finally emulates the mentor’s practices. This activity helps new employees to understand the jobs better and develop expertise.

Different ways of shadowing include:

i. Peer training

This shadowing style involves pairing a new employee with a colleague holding an equivalent position. Usually, this pair comprise team members in the same field or department and is best used to onboard junior and support staff.

ii. Supervisor’s guidance

New hires shadow their supervisors and bosses. This idea is perfect for team leadership training and development.

iii. Onboarding rotational shifts

The onboarding rotational shifts involve the new hire spending time in different departments to understand operations. For example, spending an hour per day in a department. The shifts aim to provide the new staff member an all-round knowledge of the company activities. This idea suits senior staff accountable for one or more departments, such as managers, heads of departments, and HR professionals.

iv. Video-assisted shadowing

This onboarding training involves using recorded video clips to coach the new employee. The videos may include explainers on how to perform a task, office tours, and recorded employee handbooks. This kind of shadowing works best in circumstances that need a constant reference.

Shadowing a new employee provides the new hire with networking and on-job learning opportunities. Teams also benefit from creative recruits’ feedback and collaboration.

For more tips, check out this list of employee training books.

10. Caring for office pets

Office pets include animals, birds, or fish kept at the office or those that often visit the office with their owners. These pets play a critical role in reducing stress by connecting with the staff and making them more at ease. Caring for office pets may be a fulfilling team activity for new hires who find it hard to settle in, probably due to inborn shyness.

Creating a pets’ day event, where members, including the new employees, bring over their pets to the office is a creative activity to try. In these events, team members may introduce new colleagues to the pets to form bonds. Further, older employees can teach the new ones how to take care of the office pets.

Examples of team activities relating to pets include bathing, feeding, brushing, and walking the pets. Undertaking these activities with new hires builds on responsibility and compassion.

Here is a list of the best office pets.

11. Tree planting

Climate change is a major concern currently, and thus, folks need to embrace environmental conservation. Planting a tree is among the most beneficial and fun onboarding activities for new hires. This idea is also a solution to reducing carbon, a significant climate change contributor.

To conduct this activity, new employees need to plant a tree on office premises, public parks, or arboretums. However, teams have to check with local authorities for a massive tree-planting event. Depending on the existing regulations, members may plant a tree or grow those that landscapers recommend.

Planting and growing trees instill discipline and collaboration in teams because tree growing requires proper gardening tools, adequate planning, and ground preparation to execute. In addition, the tree can symbolize the employee’s career. Members can watch the tree grow and develop as their positions grow and develop within the company.

If tree planting is not viable for the team, alternatives like tending flowers and other ornamental plants are perfect substitutes.

12. Onboarding gifts

Showering new hires with onboarding gifts is a creative way to integrate new hires into the team. Onboarding gifts can range from personal items to office equipment. Though the management provides necessary office supplies, the presents that the team members give are majorly a sign of welcoming the new members.

Examples of onboarding gifts include:

  • Stationery like fancy pens, notebooks, and diaries
  • Crockeries, such as tumblers, tea mugs, and water bottles
  • Computer accessories like wireless speakers and headphones
  • Convenience items such as a laptop sleeve and portable chargers

Teams that have the onboarding gifts culture present those gifts in two ways, individually or as a team. Either way, this team building activity aids the assimilation of new staff. For instance, the former way boosts individual interactions with the new hires, while the latter is best for showing team unity.

To make the gift package more appealing to the new hire, teams may brand the items with the company logo, label the items with the names of the new members, or print an inspiring quote on the gift.

Check out these lists of the best gifts for workers and employee swag ideas.


New employee onboarding ideas are games, events, and activities used to orientate new employees as they join a new office team. These ideas are part of team building exercises and may involve the participation of a few team members or the entire team. Making these activities casual adds fun and increases engagement, making onboarding enjoyable.

Next, check out these lists of return to the office ideas and trust-building activities.

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FAQ: Employee onboarding ideas

Here are frequently asked questions about office onboarding ideas.

What is the purpose of new employee onboarding?

Office onboarding activities help welcome new hires in the following ways.

  • Reducing awkwardness and making new staff comfortable, for example, in-house tours
  • Integrating new members into the team, for example, through staff introductions
  • Inducting new hires on their jobs, for example, shadowing and onboarding rotational shifts
  • Instilling a positive attitude, for example, through positive welcome messages
  • Building mutual trust, say, through onboarding pal system
  • Starting off newcomers with boosted morale, for example, through fun activities on onboarding brochures such as nature walks and game drives
  • Building camaraderie, for example, through meal sharing events

Onboarding generally helps new hires find their footing, makes onboarding fun and facilitates team building.

How do you make onboarding fun for employees?

These simple ideas make onboarding fun.

  • Drop formalities. Being casual in the activities puts folks at ease.
  • Engage new and older team members. Inclusive participation makes the team own the activities, hence perform those activities better.
  • Theme-match the activities to increase appropriateness and thus increase engagement,
  • Add surprise elements to spark curiosity and interest, such as giving newbies onboarding gifts
  • Assign responsibility such as tree planting and caring for pets, which requires constant care.
  • Personalize events to intrigue the new hire and make them feel comfortable, for instance, letting new hires order their food in a meal-sharing event.

These suggestions have hospitality aspects and mind-stimulating activities that make onboarding enjoyable for employees.

What are some good activities for new employee onboarding?

Good onboarding activities for new employees include:

  • Playing onboarding games and icebreakers
  • Sharing a meal with newcomers
  • Going for nature walks, sightseeing, or game drives
  • Onboarding pal system
  • Question and answer

These activities are among the best ideas for team building and can increase confidence, empowerment, and commitment of new hires.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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