Want to have a fully engaged workforce that understands your whole business? Lunch and Learn sessions are a perfect place to start. Create a culture of continual learning and ideas sharing, and help different teams socialise and get to know each other better.
Lunch and Learns foster growth, team building and presentation skills within the business, whilst making the most of your employees time at work. The Lunch and Learn concept is one that the most successful businesses implement, and here we tell you more about the benefits, how to run your own and some mistakes to avoid.
What Is a Lunch and Learn
A lunch and learn is the coming together of two fantastic concepts and this is usually represented by some kind of presentation or activity happening during the lunch hour. This presentation is usually provided by one of your employees or is sometimes given by an outside speaker. The depth of the presentation will depend on the typical length of your lunches, but you could always consider a longer lunchtime on those days for a more leisurely or in-depth experience.
A lunch and learn should be easy for all to attend, hold them in-house if you can, in your board room or wherever you can comfortably gather your staff and where they can see and hear the speaker clearly. Ideally with access to a screen to view the presentation.
Offer lunch, this is a big draw for many staff. A finger buffet or sandwich platter or something more exciting. This gives staff a chance to get away from their desks and have a change of scenery. Many people work through lunch or skip it entirely and this is not good for their health or their productivity levels. So setting new practices like a lunch and learn will break up the day and help to reinvigorate your employees.
A lunch and learn allows your staff to develop a wider knowledge of your business or industry. It can be used to develop thinking around new technologies available in your sector, or hear from suppliers about new products and how they could add value to your offering. The lunch and learn is also a great opportunity to grow in-depth knowledge of your internal functions, bringing together disparate teams and forming bonds between workers which will encourage your employees to appreciate the business as a whole, as opposed to only ever seeing their own small part.
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. It enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. There are over 1000 Institutes and Professional bodies across the UK and the number is growing, many of your staff may already be members of some of these. Engaging in Continuing Professional Development ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘upskill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves, regardless of occupation, age or educational level. Typically, continued professional development can take many forms includingonline courses, reading white papers, attending seminars and industry-specific presentations. With this in mind, you can find out what your own staff requirements are and help them by delivering suitable lunchtime learning sessions.
Here are some more specific advantages gained by conducting lunch and learns:
Connect with Quieter Teams
It’s a fact of any business – some teams are simply quieter than others. This might be because their line of work is more likely to attract introverts, or it could be that the employees just aren’t so high profile.
Having a member from the quiet team present at a lunch and learn can illuminate their team’s work habits and purpose. Dissolving the air of mystery that inevitably shrouds some employees is an important part of creating a cohesive workforce that respects and understands every individual.
All for One and One for All
Although explaining the purpose of quiet teams is especially important, giving everyone the chance to explain their line of work can be illuminating. Lunch and learns are opportunities for different teams to advertise the skills they have learned to one another, which can encourage employees to develop a more thorough understanding of the business and to work more closely on projects, especially useful in larger matrix structured organisations. This also encourages internal development and agility, for staff to move to new roles within your company.
Setting Up Your Lunch
The key to a good lunch and learn is organisation. You need to know what, where, who and when, as well as having a clear plan of what you want to achieve with each presentation, including an overarching goal. These business-wide aims will include making more friendships between co-workers of different teams and connecting workers. You can achieve these aims by crafting an exciting and thoughtfully organised lunch and learn programme through the following tips and tricks.
Catering Staff or Local Lunch
You can’t host a lunch and learn without the lunch, so firstly you need to decide where you will be dining. Go for a simple option of food that can be eaten without too much mess, noise or smell. Make sure it’s tasty and you’ll have staff coming back for more.
Whether you go local or for catering will depend on the size of your establishment, cost and the needs of your staff. Don’t forget to cater for all needs, check on dietary requirements in advance. The lunch is often the biggest attraction at these events, but you also need to consider organisation and communication.
Organised Times, Organised Staff
You need to be consistent with when your lunches are organised if you want your staff to appreciate them. Consistency will ensure that your staff recognise when a lunch and learn is upcoming so that they can organise themselves and their schedules around it.
For example, those staff members who use three out of five of their lunches each week completing personal activities – going to the gym, running errands, meeting with friends – will hopefully remember to keep lunch and learns free, if it happens on a regular date.
Communication and Encouragement
Not everyone will appreciate lunch and learns at first. Indeed, some will undoubtedly view this exercise as a corporate scam created to squeeze more working hours into the day. You need to avoid this by making lunch and learns an activity that staff actively want to be a part of, not something they are forced to attend.
You want your staff to leave these meetings extolling the virtues of a good lunch and learn, talking about the good food they had, the things they have learned and the people they spoke with. You might need to give some encouragement at first, but if you’re hosting them right, then the staff should be encouraging each other.
Things to Avoid
There are some problems that Lunch and Learn hosts can run into, which can sometimes only be seen with hindsight. We’ve listed them so that you can skip the experimental period and get it right from your very first attempt:
Some workers view their lunch break as one of the most important parts of the working day. It’s a time to unwind, relax, and let go of any morning troubles so they can approach the afternoon with a fresh outlook.
It is important therefore not to force attendance to these events because it could lead to tension in your workforce. Sell in the benefits and make the topics interesting and varied. Once your staff see that this is a regular event and hear positive feedback they will be keen to take part.
A boring presentation will impress no one. Remember that these occasions are happening on workers’ free time, so put fun before facts. You can spice things up by inviting a speaker from another organisation to present, or simply by ensuring that topics are both varied and useful.
At Planteria we are passionate about what we do and why we do it. To add value to the companies we work with, we offer a presentation to enrich your understanding of biophilic design and planting in the workplace. Get in touch to arrange for us to come and talk to your team.
With the growing realisation of the importance that plants and biophilia play in the workplace and their effect on wellbeing, creativity and productivity they have become an essential element in any commercial environment. We work with you to blend our knowledge and design flair to specify the right kind of plants to thrive in a particular space. These presentations are popular with Design and Fit Out companies, Architects and also with Property Management companies and at Tenant Meetings.
Read more about what makes us different.
Lunch and learns aren’t the only option available to you if you are looking to improve relationships between staff; we also recommend improving office environments with office plants, planning social activities outside of work and offering staff perks.