A study revealed that only 13% of employees are ‘engaged at work’, 63% are ‘not engaged’ and 24% are ‘actively disengaged’. From this, we learn that people are not loving their job. What if they get a chance to attend a motivational speech during a lunch break? After getting burdened with the workload, such getaways are a great stressbuster. And this innovative concept is prominently called – ‘lunch and learn’ or ‘brown bag’.
Lunch and learn is a great medium to strike a conversation with your employees in a timeframe of 35-45 mins. This session is a great way to discuss work and to improve the performance of employees. Furthermore, they also educate employees about non-professional factors like wellness, retirement, healthy living and much more. So, what is this session all about. Let’s explore.
What is a lunch and learn session?
As the name suggests, these sessions are held during the lunch break. And that’s the reason why they are formal in nature. As an incentive, employers can opt for free lunch. But in case of a tight budget or short notice, the employees may bring their own lunches.
Arranged in a cafeteria or conference room, this lunch break is a great way to encourage employees. Also, it forms a great source of motivation which uplifts the employee’s performance.
Therefore, let’s unravel some more aspects and key benefits of a lunch and learn program.
What a typical lunch and learn session consists of?
Cross-training is all about training an employee to perform tasks of other departments. For example, if there are 2 employees – Scott and Lang. Then Scott can learn about the tasks assigned to Lang while the same applies to Lang. This increases the productivity of the company and the workload gets divided. Also, it helps to meet deadlines, thus enhancing time-management.
2. Product training
If a company has several products and services, then an employer can talk about them at lunch and learn. Besides, if you wish to impart a better understanding of products. Then this is the best way of training. Moreover, you may introduce a new line of products during such sessions too.
3. Personal development
Lunch and learn topics need not have to be business or professional all time. You may also highlight non-working opportunities like painting, fitness, drawing, and so on.
4. Diverse activities
Many companies grab this opportunity to invite guest speakers. This gives an opportunity to the company to highlight the challenges in the market. Alongside this, companies also take up cross-culture training. In this, employees get trained in various cultures. It helps in boosting their performance. Also, it enlightens them about values, the ethos of other cultures.
5. Professional development
This helps an employee to understand the role and responsibility of co-workers from other departments. With this, an employee may come forward and train other employees. For example, HR could conduct a session on how to choose the right candidate for a job!
6. Life skills
Life skills infuse a positive attitude while dealing with life challenges. So, if an employee is heading towards retirement. Then this session would impart all about pension schemes or retirement planning. Employees may also choose to get trained in personal investment, budgeting or financial know-how.
Lunch and learn session benefits
- The lunch hour is of limited time. Yet lunch and learn events can utilize it in a better and productive manner.
- Such programs boost the morale of the employee. It also helps them bond with other team members. It brings about transparency among various teams. Teams get a chance to share their role and responsibility in the company.
- With informal structure, such sessions engage employees in sharing information without any inhibitions.
- Lunch and learn creates positivity amongst the employees. Also, it provides networking opportunities thus helping in team building.
- Such programs are a great medium for personal development. It encourages team members to grow and build their personal as well as professional skills.
- If there are any new initiatives undertaken by the company. Then they can be openly discussed in such programs. Moreover, it is the best medium to spread awareness among the staff members about the work culture.
- It creates positivity and motivation to fulfill the objectives of the company.
So, if you wish to organize a lunch and learn session, then don’t plan a typical lunch. Also, don’t arrange a random PowerPoint presentation or a predictable menu. Instead, apply our tips to make that one-hour session motivating and memorable.
7 Tips to host Lunch and Learn Sessions
1. Consider Your Employee Opinion
Its always better to know what your audience wants. This practice can open a plethora of ideas and a chance to know your employees better.
While planning for lunch and learn events, ask your employees to contribute. Ask them about the topics they would like to hear during the session. Send out a form and ask them to fill it with their ideas.
Instead of attending some random training session, it’s better to attend a session that has their contributed ideas. With this, they will also urge others to join in. Alongside this, you will get the right content for your session.
2. Choose Lighthearted Topics
Do you want your employees to feel refreshed to complete the second half? Then, choose topics that will ease their minds from a hectic schedule.
As this training session is going to be a casual one, then go for light topics. With serious issues, employees might lose interest and not attend future sessions. Also, lighthearted talk forms a perfect backdrop on a busy day. Include a discussion about new products, changes in the company, new skills, etc., which will enlighten them. You can also add topics like a healthy lifestyle, diet, meditation, etc., to help them in after-hours.
If you are out of ideas, then we got you covered. Further in the article, we will be shedding light on how to come up with topics for a successful session.
As it has a casual approach, so exclude topics that are legal or related to companies’ policy.
3. Have A Dashing Speaker
Speaker is the source of inspiration. So, choose a speaker who speaks his heart out. Also, his words of wisdom must motivate employees.
Don’t force employees to sleep in the middle of the event and so, choose an enthusiastic speaker. Ensure that the speaker maintains eye contact instead of reading from a PowerPoint presentation. Fill your lunch and learn session with enthusiasm, fun along with inspiring talks. Alongside, to draw attention, design an appealing presentation which includes photos and videos. Ask the speaker to keep the session interactive by encouraging employees to share their experiences. With this, the session becomes interesting and creates curiosity for the following event.
You may invite employees or a guest speaker from other companies to share their expertise. You can organize a quiz, book reading session or a simple Q&A session!
4. Keep a Check on Technology
Even for a second, if we lose the internet, we start becoming anxious. Thus, during an ongoing session, a minute disturbance is enough for disappointment.
Don’t forget to include remote employees at lunch and learn sessions. Though they are not physically present, yet they deserve the experience. But for that, make sure that the technology is in place. If you are video conferencing, then make sure you don’t encounter a technical glitch. And the same rule applies to the employees present in the company. A bumpy start is enough for employees to lose interest and go blank!
5. Plan the Session in Advance
Every employee has to abide by deadlines in the company. So, plan your lunch and sessions, quite in advance so that their routine is not disturbed.
There are some employees who skip lunch to complete their tasks. So, if you are expecting attendance, make sure you plan your session beforehand. Make a formal announcement, distribute handouts, create buzz and stick to your schedule. If you are planning to have a monthly session, then make sure you maintain consistency. With this, the employees will get used to the regime and will schedule their tasks.
6. Undertake Follow up Survey
Follow-up survey is the progress report of your training program. With this, you understand your weaknesses and areas you need to work on.
After every session, try and assess what factors worked for the employees. Try and find out elements that will help to enhance the life skills of the employee. With assessment, employees get involved and feel honored for considering their opinion. And as an organizer, this survey helps you to design a better lunch and learn in the near future.
7. Choose Variety in Food
Lunch and learn is all about food. Furthermore, if you are offering free food, then plan for a variety on the menu.
Scrumptious food complements the content of your session. It also urges the employees to attend the session. So, try and include food and beverages that are unique. Sometimes, financial constraints may not allow having fancy food for the entire team. In such a situation, choose snacks because that can also encourage employees to attend. While doing all this, make sure you stick to healthy food!
Now you know the tips to conduct a successful lunch and learn session. But the most important aspect is the topics. So, hereby we are sharing some of the tips to brainstorm topics!
Lunch and learn topics
- Browse through your social media handles and filter the ongoing trends. Try and recall conversations you had with your team which you may be able to discuss over lunch.
- Google the name of your company and explore what people are talking about. Online reviews might give you a brilliant topic. You may also refer to a magazine, online forums for trending topics that fit the bill.
- Dive deep and identify the uniqueness of your company. Start investigating your employees. After this, you might find a few artists in the company. For example, you might have an employee who is a maestro in Pilates. Then you may have a session to keep people moving!
- Be sharp-eared! By this, we mean that you speak to your employees and list down every point they are interested in. You may also draft emails about potential ideas. Further asking employees for their suggestions or asking them to add any points.
- Moreover, communicate with employees face-to-face. With this, you will get real-time experience along with their feedback. Moreover, it will create a buzz that lunch and learn sessions are in the pipeline.
- Now it’s time to assemble your findings. Start revising the topics again and rank them on the grounds of popularity. Remember, to examine whether they are relevant for such sessions.
- Once you finalize the topics then come up with a schedule. Moreover, start searching for speakers who will do justice to the topics.
While finalizing a topic, make sure it has a learning objective. Because it will help you decide whether the topic is worth discussing at lunch and learn.
Now that you are equipped with relevant topics. Then let’s move further with lunch and learn the invitation.
Lunch and learn invitation
- Start by creating a buzz among the employees. As mentioned above, once you start taking their opinion, the word will spread like wildfire. Create a sense of urgency as if there are very limited seats available for the event.
- Start sending emails, promote on social media, spread a word in meetings. You may also establish a strong word of mouth.
- Design posters and put them on places where employees visit the most.
- Have a landing page on a website where employees can register. With this, you will get a clear idea about the number of attendees.
- Send timely reminders either via email or through mobile messages. You may also call them personally for reminding them about the event.
- After the event, do send ‘thank you’ emails to all. The people who failed to attend, send them an email too, and direct them in a way to stay in touch for further events.
What you must avoid while arranging a successful lunch and learn?
- Do not force the employees to take part. It will kill their enthusiasm and interest. Instead, it should be so engrossing that employees who do not attend should feel regretful.
- Try and include a variety of subjects. Limited topics might lead to boredom. Employees might also feel that their valuable time is being wasted.
- Do not overdo it. Don’t make this session a regular affair. This might annoy the employees. They might also get stressed knowing that they have to undertake official tasks during lunch hour.
If you want to witness success then support employee development to the fullest. Besides, lunch and learn is a great idea to unite as a team and interact. Also, they help extend learning, creativity in the workplace. So, materialize these ideas and add fun, frolic, and productivity in your employees. Make employees feel special and you will witness great efficiency!
Neelambari started her rollercoaster ride as a journalist at Pune Mirror (Times Group). After which she started exploring the world of content writing. Today, she boasts more than five years of experience filled with creativity and diversity. During this tenure, she explored various mediums like articles, blogs, social media posts, website content, and much more. And this content ranged from Gynecology, Ayurveda, Dental health to nutrition. However, she enjoys the most writing about Psychology and other medical streams. She loves writing and aims to bring positive changes at least in some lives with her articles on www.themindfool.com