Lunch and Learn – Hosting Lunch for Advancement and Engagement

With the fast-paced modern business world, hosting a lunch and learn program is one of the most efficient and effective methods of promoting team learning and professional development that accommodates everyone’s busy calendars.

For many teams, lunch breaks are characterized by a frantic rush to the microwave only to continue to respond to emails or client calls while eating last night’s leftovers. But what if there was a way to engage employees in a meaningful and collaborative way during the lunch hour?

Today, we’re going to discuss the value of lunch and learn programs in engaging employees to maximize their lunch hour with professional development sessions or team building activities. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is a Lunch and Learn?

what is a lunch and learn

A lunch and learn is an opportunity for employees to eat lunch in a group setting while simultaneously discussing essential topics, completing training, listening to seminars, engaging in professional development or other relevant education to their jobs or organization.

Lunch and learns are an excellent opportunity for employers and organizations to train and engage existing employees and are a favourite of third party organizations looking to host sessions with a particular organization or group of employees.

These learning sessions are incredibly popular among non-profit organizations looking to engage organizations in fundraising or similar campaigns.

Lunch and learn programs are also an excellent opportunity for employers to meet and engage with a group of applicants for a particular role or work-study internship. These group interview settings are just as valuable for the employers as they can be for the applicants.

A lunch and learn program designed to attract new employees is a great way to teach potential applicants about your organization, core values and the company mission on top of delving into the specifics of the role they are applying for. This is particularly beneficial for large organizations with multiple job opportunities and a large pool of potential applicants.

What are the Benefits of a Lunch and Learn?

lunch and learn topics

There are a multitude of benefits that can result from hosting lunch and learns. Not only do they provide employers with an opportunity to address topics in a group setting, which saves time, but they also provide employees with the chance to give and receive feedback in real-time.

Other benefits surrounding lunch and learn events include:

Efficient and Effective Training

One of the greatest benefits of successful lunch and learn events is the opportunity to provide additional training or professional development to employees without interfering with their productivity or impeding on their personal time.

By engaging employees during their lunch hour, training can be more easily managed by both employers and employees. This allows business operations to continue to run smoothly and for employees to feel they are provided with the necessary tools and learnings for their roles while also encouraging them to seek more advanced training in the future.

A common concern about lunch and learn events is that employees will not be engaged in the session since they are asked to volunteer their personal lunch break to engage in business operations, learning or organizational mandates. Employees who routinely take their lunch hour to run personal errands, decompress with colleagues or other activities might feel that company-led lunch and learns infringe on their work-life balance.

Thus, it is crucial to remember to honour the personal time employees are devoting to lunch and learns. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that the sessions are engaging, valuable, and fun!

Collaboration

Lunch and learns are a great opportunity for team building and collaborative working sessions for employees on the same team or even on different teams within the same company.

These sessions are an opportune occasion for employees to meet face-to-face to build a stronger sense of community and develop tight-knit communication to build working relationships and create an interactive, positive work environment.

Lunch and learns are especially important for teams who are multi-pronged or designed in a way that does not allow for much in-person interaction with colleagues. In this way, the stronger connection to each other helps foster better problem solving, communication, and productivity across teams.

Whether or not your business promotes a positive work environment can make or break employee morale. Find out more about the importance of a Positive Work Environment – 8 Ways to Foster One.”

Networking and Bridge-Building

A lunch and learn session is a useful tool for networking across various teams within your organization. A networking style lunch and learn is a great way to break down operational barriers between groups of employees or teams within your organization.

Another effective method to engage employees is through a lunch and learn with senior leadership or other employees in different departments or areas of your organization. The chance to spend time with senior leadership in a lunch and learn is particularly valuable with entry-level employees, interns or prospective employees.

Our Top 5 Favourite Topics for Lunch-and-Learn sessions

Now that we have discussed the key benefits of a successful lunch and learn, we can pivot and address the most significant factors that make them up, the content! 

It’s one thing to invite employees during their lunch break to an education session, but it is crucial to outline the various possibilities of what they will learn at lunch.

Cross-Training

One of the most significant advantages of lunch and learn sessions is the opportunity to cross-train employees. Cross-training is a process of an employee or group of employees teaching others about their daily responsibilities and key job skills.

Overall, this strategy fosters an appreciation for other roles in the organization and creates greater cohesion across different teams. By understanding the inner-workings of other teams, collaboration is more easily achieved at a person-to-person level.

Product or Organization Training

Lunch and learn programs are an excellent way to teach employees about new products or services offerings from your organization. It is also a fantastic method for receiving feedback from employees who may not be directly involved in developing new products.

It also presents an opportunity to retrain employees on the organization’s key priorities, including the company vision, mission, and values.

Diversity or Inclusion Training

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Diversity and inclusion is an ongoing conversation that should be routinely discussed and addressed within your organization, not just when issues or complaints arise.

By promoting your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through engaging lunch and learn sessions, you can show your employees that you genuinely care about their mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Diversity and inclusion sessions must be a safe space for all employees. Rather than focusing on a lecture or instructor-guided learning, this is an excellent opportunity to facilitate a discussion between employees and provide them with the chance to feel heard and valued.

A diverse work environment allows for people of all backgrounds to come together to form a cohesive, productive environment. Learn 4 Reasons Why Diversity in the Workplace Can Increase Your Bottom Line.”

Developing Leadership Skills

A professional development lunch and learn focused on leadership is an ideal opportunity for employees looking to advance their careers within your organization. Developing these leadership skills can be part of a more extensive program within your organization designed to foster your organization’s leadership and development.

It is also an effective method of retaining employees and curbing employee turnover by demonstrating your commitment to their growth and development.

Developing leadership skills can encompass a variety of sessions and learning opportunities. Some examples of leadership development topics could include project management, time management, meeting deadlines, managing teams, managing workplace conflict, understanding working styles and team cohesion.

These lunch and learns are also the perfect opportunities to leverage senior leadership or bring in a third party instructor or leadership development expert.

Managing Recent or Upcoming Changes

Another way to maximize your lunch and learn sessions is by using this time to share changes with your employees.

Significant changes to or within your organization, whether positive or negative, are often best communicated in person to ensure that employees have a chance to voice concerns, address challenges and ask pertinent questions.

This face to face interaction shows accountability and transparency from your organization and often is received better when delivered in person rather than by email. For large changes like restructuring, layoffs or possible acquisitions, it is best to deliver this news directly rather than letting the rumour mill fly.

Key Takeaways on Lunch and Learn Programs

Giving up precious lunch hour time to a voluntary meeting might not sound appealing for some employees. Still, with the right planning and topic, a lunch and learn session can be a valuable use of time for both the employer and employees.

Lunch and learn sessions are most successful when the topic is engaging and easily understood in a short period of time and when the session has opportunities for collaboration, networking and even some fun.

With a bit of creativity and ingenuity, lunch and learn sessions might very well be the lunch hour your employees most look forward to!

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Written By Emily Rumball

A Content Writer at Advesa, Emily is a self-proclaimed tea addict (her favourite being a nice, strong English Breakfast), animal lover, and eager traveller. When she isn't jet-setting off to the next far off destination, she enjoys spending quality time at home in Vancouver.