Companies today are constantly looking for methods and activities to enhance their teams’ performance and stimulate their employees’ critical thinking. One of the most effective methods is Lunch and Learn. These events are programs organized by companies to encourage employees or applicants to have lunch in a group setting while pursuing training, seminars, brainstorming...
Lunch and Learn programs by Trusted Advisors are a great opportunity to stimulate creativity and innovation, and to create relationships between individuals from different departments, which in turn help enhance cooperation within the company. Their duration varies depending on the objective set by the organization and can take from 30 to 90 minutes, sometimes more.
Companies can benefit from a Lunch and Learn initiative in numerous ways, including:
Enhancing professional development: Employees will have the opportunity to get to know each other and to share their responsibilities, which promotes flexibility and agility regarding organizational changes.
Encouraging growth and learning: Sessions allow employees to share their expertise, which will give them an opportunity to develop their skills and confidence.
Developing leadership skills: Participants can be allowed to moderate or run a session covering a topic within their area of expertise.
Addressing business issues and generating new ideas: Lunch and Learn sessions present an opportunity to use collective intelligence in order to solve problems or generate innovative ideas that benefits the company.
In order to assist planning effective Lunch and Learn sessions, Trusted Advisors team rely on a set of key success factors allowing companies to fully profit from these programs. These success factors can be undertaken as the following actions:
Choosing the right schedule: setting appropriate schedules for the “lunch and learn” sessions is important for their success. It is advised to plan the sessions frequently, on a weekly or monthly basis (for example: every Friday (weekly basis), or every last Friday of the month (monthly basis)).
Identifying the sessions’ objectives: Lunch and Learn events must be interesting, relevant and worthwhile for employees. It is crucial to decide what you want to achieve from these sessions in order to attract employees and convince them to participate (e.g. employee skills development).
Choosing a relevant and interesting topic: asking employees both in and out of work about what matters to them and what they want to learn. This will make the participants more engaged and more motivated by the event.
Deciding the number of participants: it is important to decide in advance if the event will be held for a targeted audience or open to everyone. Either way, sending invitations and asking people to respond swiftly will help knowing the exact number of participants, which will allow planning and managing the session accordingly.
Offering a great lunch: It seems rather basic but choosing the right menu is essential in order to make the session a success. A great lunch offer will motivate employees to attend. Set them up with a good variety of options so that they feel welcome. This can also help provide a good feedback for those who didn’t attend, which will motivate them for future sessions.
Promoting the event: Publicizing the event as soon as the speaker and topic are confirmed. Use different tools (intranet channels, posters, flyers…) in order to create a “buzz” around the lunch and learn event, while insisting on the fact that ideas and contributions are welcome.
Breaking barriers: Discussion and interaction are key success factors for a lunch and learn session. It is important to get the participants involved and to set up an atmosphere promoting “discussing and sharing” insights/ideas (E.g. asking everyone to introduce themselves at the beginning / asking the participants on what interests them about this particular session…).
Providing TAKE-AWAYS: Handouts can be paper reminders of a particular Lunch and learn that reiterate the sessions’ content, and can also be an incentive to attend the next one. Provide handouts (key rings, toy, infographic…) to the participants at the end of the session (and make sure the remote participants get theirs too).
Welcoming a post-event feedback: It is crucial to ask the participants for their feedback after the event took place. This will help improve the upcoming session and make them more interesting and appropriate. It will also show employees that their opinion matters, and that the sessions are held for their own benefit (E.g. Setting up a simple online form where participants can share their thoughts on the session anonymously).
It is vital to bear in mind that lunch and learn are informal and voluntary sessions that foster knowledge sharing and skills development for employees. Thus, planning these sessions and making them a success can be achieved by focusing on employees’ needs in terms of learning and training.
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