Lunch and Learns
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What Are Lunch and Learns?
A lunch and learn is a program where employees can eat lunch in a group setting while participating in a training or seminar to further build their skillset.
The Benefits of Lunch and Learns
The benefits of lunch and learns, discussed below, can be achieved as long as the environment is fun and relaxing. Employees are trading in their break/lunch to spend time in the lunch and learn. It is important to keep their experience in mind.
- Team Building. This setting provides employees a chance to socialize with their co-workers, building a sense of community with their team and the company as a whole.
- Time Efficient. Lunch and learns are, as the name implies, often scheduled during an employee’s lunch or break time. This allows the support teams to always have someone ready to interact with a customer if needed.
- Recruiting Tool. If you’re looking to attract new employees, a lunch and learn is effective in giving talent an inside look to your organization. You can gain an idea for who’s interested in your company and create a casual relationship with them.
The Drawbacks of Lunch and Learns
At first thought, you may not believe there are any disadvantages to lunch and learns. However, let’s consider a few drawbacks before you dedicate time to this.
- Certain topics could be offensive. If you choose a bad topic it could lead to a poor experience for everyone involved and leave a bad impression of the company. Make sure to do ample research into potential topics, taking great care with topics related to protected classes in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Not cost effective. If only a few people attend, you may consider if a lunch and learn is worth holding. If too many people attend, the price of buying lunch for everyone may be more than you had originally budgeted. Seek employee feedback regarding each lunch and learn to better plan future sessions and budget for food.
- Low employee morale. Scheduling a lunch and learn during lunch or break times may lead to employees feeling undervalued and resent the company for not scheduling the event at a different time. If an employee doesn’t feel valued they could not perform well or leave the company altogether.
Topics and Ideas for a Lunch and Learn
There is a vast list of topics that you can cover during a lunch and learn. The topics below can get you started with good ideas to show the value in these sessions to employees and leaders.
Health and Wellness
This topic can be covered in several ways, whether it is leading a five-minute meditation or a yoga class or educating attendees on what they can do to improve their financial wellness. This topic allows you to show employees that the company values them and is willing to invest in their well-being.
Utilizing these small group settings allows you to announce changes coming to the organization and answer any questions employees may have regarding the changes. This is beneficial for employees to more quickly accept the change while a mass email or a giant meeting is a less conducive environment to asking questions and accepting change.
Instead of asking employees to learn about products on their own, lunch and learns provide an open, friendly environment where they can learn about the product. This gives employees the confidence to talk about products with customers.
Ask Employees for Ideas
The best way to decide on a topic is to ask the employees what they want to learn. This gives the opportunity for employees to own their development and share their excitement, drawing a better turnout for the lunch and learn.
How Do I Host a Lunch and Learn?
The steps below are a great place to start scheduling lunch and learns for your organization.
Step 1: Choose the topic
You can pick from one of the suggestions listed in the previous section or you can invite employees to submit their own ideas. This is a great opportunity to send employees an anonymous survey that lets them submit ideas for topics they want to learn about.
Step 2: Schedule the lunch and learn
If you schedule the lunch and learn too soon then you can’t expect employees to show up. You will want to give employees seven to 10 days notice of the lunch and learn so they can plan their day appropriately. Remember, not everyone will attend due to other priorities they have that day.
Step 3: Find the right speaker
The speaker you choose will determine if the lunch and learn is a complete success or a complete failure. Start with a leader internal to the organization — someone who understands the employees. This leader will know how to keep employees engaged in the presentation and deliver the information. As you prepare for the lunch and learn, ensure the speaker has everything they need to be successful.
Step 4: Offer food
If you do not have the budget to buy lunch for attendees you can still buy snacks and beverages for the employees. Be mindful of any major allergies employees may face when deciding what food to purchase for the lunch and learn.
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Ryan is an HR Director with four years of experience and three masters degrees. One accomplishment he is proud of is the design and launch of a learning and development program for 800+ employees.
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