What Is a Lunch and Learn Program and Why You Should Create One?

Time is always problematic for businesses, as they often find they don’t have enough of it to train their employees. This is why most employers resort to some tricks to compensate for these shortcomings. As a result, they created Lunch and Learn, where employees can pick up more knowledge while learning. Therefore, what is a Lunch and Learn program, what are its advantages, and why should you opt for one?

Plates containing different snacks and fruits

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What is Lunch and Learn?

Lunch and Learn is a short training that lasts about 30 or 45 minutes and takes place at the same time with lunch break. Employers schedule it within this timeframe to save some time. They often battle with the fact that employees need trainings, but they also need to continue doing their job. As a result, the concept of Lunch and Learn came into being.

However, there is a big difference between Lunch and Learn and a regular training program. The first one is more informal and has a more flexible structure. In fact, such programs take the free time of employees, so they have to stay interesting and engaging.

Often, employers resort to some incentives to convince their employees to attend these meetings. They can be anything from various benefits to free lunches. Employees should feel it’s worth giving up their lunch break to listen to what a trainer has to say and learn some new things.

What trainings does Lunch and Learn involve?

Since the atmosphere should be a relaxed one, do not pick important trainings for this program. If there’s something the law forces you to do, or anything that has great importance, postpone them for a special meeting. Here, you can talk to your employees about basic things, such as ways to improve their working methods.

However, there trainings don’t have to be about business. You can also talk about fun activities that people can learn, strategies for personal development, how to pick up a new set of skills, or other relevant topics. Lunch and Learn might be the right moment to teach employees about retirement plans or how to manage their finances.

Why have a Lunch and Learn program?

There are a series of benefits that are associated with such training programs. If your company has quite a busy schedule and employees need to do a serious amount of work, Lunch and Learn is a great thing to take advantage of. You get to save some time and still teach some lessons to your employees.

Also, the less formal training is actually better to get your message through. In such a setting, people are more open to discussion, and tend to absorb the knowledge a lot better than during a formal meeting. Also, if you keep things engaging and fun, they will become popular among employees. This will help you improve their overall satisfaction and the company culture, bringing great results.

People sitting at a table having lunch

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

How to start a Lunch and Learn program

Before organizing the first meeting of such a training program, you need to take care of a series of details. This way, you can make sure the Lunch and Learn program will be a success.

1.      Convince your boss

Any kind of training event should receive the approval of the executive board. Therefore, talk to your employer, your managers, or the HR department, and give them some suggestions. They are the ones that take care of the administrative details, so you need their support.

2.      Find diverse and interesting topics

Since Lunch and Learn will take some of the employees’ free time, make sure you don’t waste it. The more appealing the topics, the more chances you have to attract attention. This will convince people to give the meeting a try, and will attract more attendees every time.

Also, don’t forget there are many departments in the company. Instead of finding training that suits only a small category, come up with something that is of interest to everyone. This is probably the easiest way to make a successful Lunch and Learn session.

3.      Establish a schedule before the training

Since it’s still their lunch break, employees might want to know how long the training is going to be. Therefore, put up an outline of the topic, and establish a schedule. Make this schedule public before the meeting, so that people would know what they can expect. This will also offer them an insight on the topic, and you’ll get more chances to convince them.

4.      Do not force them to attend

Although they might learn interesting things during this training, do not make attendance mandatory. If they are forced to be there, they will treat the program like a regular meeting that also steals their free time. Therefore, if there’s someone who really wants the break, allow them to take it. If your Lunch and Learn program is really successful, the employees who attended it will tell the others about it.

5.      Offer them diverse food choices

The sensible thing during Lunch and Learn is to offer free food. However, be imaginative with your choices. If you want something to be memorable, do not pick those classical foods that are everywhere. Also, this might be an item that could attract a lot of people. Instead of the traditional pizza, opt for something more creative. You can even build a ‘food bar’ where people can customize their meal and combine whatever they like on a plate.

6.      Ask for follow-up after each session

Not all Lunch and Learn meetings will work perfectly. This is why you need to know what the employees think. Once one such training session is done, make sure you listen to the opinions of those who attended it. They will point out what they enjoyed about Lunch and Learn, so you’ll know what to keep. Also, they will tell you what needs improvement, and you’ll get a chance to make the future meetings even more interesting.

Lunch plate next to a cup of coffee and two buns

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Conclusion

Lunch and Learn programs are a clever way to teach your employees some new things without wasting time with meetings. However, the trick is to attract their attention and make them feel their lunch break is worth abandoning to listen to you. This is why most meetings should be on interesting topics and address a wider category of people.

Image source: PxHere

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