Research shows that when diverse groups come together, they produce more creative and effective solutions than homogenous teams. But how do you bring a diverse team together? This post gives you 8 great diversity activities and icebreakers that you can organize for your employees.
Diversity at Work
A diverse workforce is made up of people of different genders, from many countries and cultures around the world. Each person has different personalities, ways of thinking, and working styles. During the time at work, these differences can cause misunderstandings or conflicts.
However, diversity at work doesn’t mean that you hire a team consisting of people from different corners of the world and force them to work together. It’s about bringing everybody together, with the spirit of establishing empathy and harmony against all differences. That’s where diversity activities and icebreakers come into place.
Diversity Activities and Icebreakers for Employees
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive team. Organizing diversity activities and ice breakers can be a great idea to cultivate your team culture. They bring people out of their comfort zones in fun and disruptive ways, and allow people to get to know each other in a pleasant atmosphere.
Check out these 7 activities you can conduct in your workplace:
1. Defining Moments
Ask each team member to write three defining moments that they’re most proud of in their lives on a piece of paper. Then, tell each person to stand up, introduce themselves, their job, and talk about what they’ve written to other co-workers. Don’t forget to ask your team members to share their takeaway from others’ stories.
This activity helps co-workers better understand each other’s backgrounds, what they believe in, and what has shaped them into the person they are today. By learning new things about each other, the team cultivates openness, honesty, and empathy in the workplace. It’s a great way to form bonds and improve the relationships between your employees.
2. Happy Hour
Happy hour is a party or a drinking session outside of the workplace, in which everybody can let loose and be themselves. This diversity activity isn’t just about drinking, it can be a great opportunity for you and your staff to create a connection.
You should plan ahead and organize small games during the happy hour so that participants can fully enjoy their time. These are chances for your team to talk about things that go beyond workplace topics and connect with each other personally.
3. How They Really Feel
Ask your employees to have a one-on-one conversation, completing the sentence: “The best and worst parts of last week, for me, were…”, or “If you really know me, you’d know that…”.
This gives everyone a platform to share or reveal stories about themselves and what they’ve done, as well as their accomplishments, failures, and motivation. Your employees will learn about what their co-workers have been through, which can conceal some backstories and ignite sympathy.
4. Story Links
You can initiate this activity by writing a sentence and ask your employees to continue to make it a story. The stories can be based on real-life events that they’ve experienced.
This activity can be done right inside the office, or you can post it on the internal social network of your business, and ask everybody to join. Internal communication tools can be extremely beneficial in this case. Others who see the previous posts can search for self-connections and contribute to the story.
For example, one staff can write: “I used to learn how to play guitar”, while another continues, “when I was a kid”. And the story goes on. This activity gives your employees opportunities to reveal about themselves and learn about others while finding out their similarities and differences.
5. I Am… But I Am Not
Ask your employees to fold a piece of paper in half to make two columns. One column writes “I Am”, the other one said, “I Am Not”. In between these two columns, add the word “But”.
Participants fill in the first blank with a generic identifier, such as their gender, race, religion, or age, and the second blank with a stereotype about that group that does not apply to them, whether it’s positive or negative.
Go around each group and share each statement. Don’t forget to discuss stereotypes and how your team can work together to resolve them.
This activity is an opportunity to break out misconceptions and stereotypes. It’s a great game for each person to self-identify and address the stereotypes about themselves.
Ask your employees to bring their favorite dishes from their culture and heritage. Before everybody can dig in, ask each employee to introduce their dishes. Food is a great conversation starter and it’s a favorable occasion for people to network and connect.
It’s no surprise that this can be everybody’s favorite diversity activity because it involves food. This can be a meaningful experience, especially for businesses that have a workforce comprised of many countries and cultures, as people can introduce to others about their local food and learn about differences.
7. Pass the Toilet Paper
You need to prepare a roll of toilet paper for this game. Have your employees sit in a circle and pass the toilet paper roll to each person, telling everyone to take as much as they want. Then reveal, for each piece of paper taken, that person has to tell the group something about them that other people don’t know.
This game is easy to prepare and apply in most workplaces. Simple yet effective, it’ll warm up the atmosphere and make your employees feel more comfortable.
8. Create Art Together
When the conversation becomes weak, let art does the talking! Any form of art can bring people closer and broaden the pool of creativity.
Have a blank wall for your employees to create art together. Employees can hang up paintings that they’ve drawn and turn the wall into an exhibition. Or bolder, you can let them redesign the office wall together with paints and brushes.
Start organizing some diversity activities and icebreakers at your workplace
Diversity activities and icebreakers are an important component of healthy workplace culture. When done right, these activities can let employees understand everyone is welcome and there are no barriers in workplace relationships. So, start organizing some at your business to boost your team morale!
Want more activities to bring your team closer together? Read more about 10 team building activities.