Step-by-Step Guide: Host a Successful Lunch and Learn
A lunch and learn is a wonderful tool to bring employees together for a valuable learning experience in a friendly atmosphere. It is an informal session that can focus on professional development, training, goal setting, or even collaboration. A lunch and learn has many benefits for both the employer and the employees. Want to learn how to host your own successful lunch and learn? Read on!
Lunch and Learn, by Definition
A lunch and learn is when employees come together over the lunch hour to learn about a topic. But here is the catch, the employer generally provides the lunch. Many employees greatly appreciate the provided food and it works as a great incentive to attend.
On some occasions, a lunch and learn might be “brown bag”. This term describes a situation where each person is responsible for bringing their own lunch. Regardless of who is paying for lunch, the goal is the same, to learn over the lunch hour.
The skill or skills being taught can greatly vary. Lunch and learns can focus on professional development, important training, and business activities. Or, they can center around wellbeing, physical activity, community engagement, and collaboration.
Because lunch and learns take place in a relaxed atmosphere, they tend to be more informal. Additionally, most lunch and learns are voluntary. As they take place over lunch, each session will likely last less than an hour. You can use multiple sessions to create a comprehensive course that continues over the span of a few weeks.
Why a Lunch and Learn is a Great Idea
There are many benefits to hosting a lunch and learn. The first is that it is a great way to facilitate collaboration and promote teamwork. Instead of a formal structured training session where one person does the teaching, a lunch and learn is more relaxed. It can provide a friendly space for employees to learn together, share ideas, and collaborate with people from different departments.
Not only may this collaboration spark new ideas but it also helps to promote community and engagement within your business. It gives employees a chance to learn about others’ tasks within the company. This can equip each of your employees to better assist one another. It may also lead to your employees being more flexible to changes in procedures, shifting task requirements, and responsibility allocation.
The community fostered in lunch and learns also provides employers with another benefit. The safe space can be a great place for team members to practice public speaking and teaching skills. Whether you want to develop your confidence or provide your employees with an opportunity to practice before they are live with clients, a lunch and learn is a less-intimidating way to do so.
Finally, as mentioned, the food is a wonderful incentive when it comes to attendance. It also is a great way to show your employees that you care about them and are grateful for the work that they do. It is a kind token of appreciation with benefits for everyone involved.
Sample Lunch and Learn Topics
- Email Communication
- Social Media Best Practices
- New Software Instruction
- Consumer Reports & Reviews
- The Perfect Pitch
- Effective Communication
- Public Speaking
#3 Development (Personal/Team)
- Breaking barriers
- Getting to Know You
- Building Leadership Skills
- Time Management
- Being An Effective Team Member
#4 Health and Wellness
- Stress Management
- Office Ergonomics
- Building Physical Activity Into the Work Day
- Financial Health
- Personal Topics of Interest (Work/life balance, childcare, etc)
Planning and Hosting a Lunch and Learn
Planning and hosting your first lunch and learn can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these simple tips to help your lunch and learn run smoothly.
#1 Set a Goal
First, determine what you want your lunch and learn to achieve. What is your goal? Try to keep the goal clear and concise. This not only helps to keep it achievable but will also allow you to measure your success.
Don’t forget about your employees’ goals either! The session should be relevant and worthwhile for them. The lunch and learn should equip them with skills that apply to their life either inside or outside the workplace.
#2 Crunch Some Numbers
The key to getting your lunch and learn to go off without a hitch is knowing your numbers. Remember, these are typically voluntary, so it may be hard to get an accurate count. Therefore, have a target number and group. You can use an open invitation or select a specific group or team.
Sending invites and asking for a response can help you gauge a general number. This is important for knowing how much food to purchase, adequate seating, and providing enough materials.
Speaking of food, be sure to run your counts by HR or the budgeting department. Try to pick food that is easy to eat, doesn’t require a lot of types of cutlery, and will be enjoyed by everyone. Lighter and healthier options are often easier to provide and to eat than hot meals.
#3 The Perfect Place
Choosing the time is easy, now you need the right venue. A lunchroom or cafeteria is often too noisy and prone to distractions. Additionally, the typical places where people eat may not lend themselves to instruction or training.
Opt for a conference room, meeting room, or even an offsite location that caters to meetings. Whichever place you choose, arrange it well ahead of time and double-check your reservation leading up to your lunch and learn.
#4 Figure Out Frequency
If this is your first foray into lunch and learns, it may help to get feedback before deciding on frequency. Therefore, you may want to pick a goal that can be taught in one session. If your goal doesn’t suit a single session, or you have had previous success with lunch and learns, you may consider holding sessions monthly, quarterly, or even bi-monthly.
#5 Consider Remote Staff Members
If you have employees working offsite, don’t forget to extend an invitation. To do this you will need to make sure your lunch and learn has video conferencing capability. If time zones make “real-time” attendance impossible, consider recording your lunch and learn for later viewing.
Feedback, Results, and Evaluation
To know whether or not your lunch and learn was a success you will want to gather feedback. You can try providing a feedback form at the end. However, the process may be rushed as your attendees hurry to submit feedback before leaving.
Instead, you might want to send out a feedback form digitally. It’s a good idea to send the form no later than one week after the lunch and learn. Ask your attendees things like if they thought the session was valuable, were they able to apply what they learned in their daily life, and do they have any suggestions for future lunch and learns.
Review the feedback to evaluate the success of your event. Reviews along with your attendance numbers for future sessions can help gauge how your lunch and learn was received.
- A lunch and learn is an informal way to offer instruction, training, or development to your employees
- Food may be employer-provided or employees can bring their own
- Sessions are held over lunch and can be stand-alone or continuous
- There are many benefits to both employers and staff, many of them center around cross-training
- To plan a successful lunch and learn, decide what your goal is, who will attend, and where it will be held
- Food is an important consideration (cost, ease of distribution and eating, employee preferences, healthy lifestyle factors)
- Gather feedback in a timely manner to evaluate the success of your lunch and learn
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