All you need to know to host a successful Lunch-and-Learn Program in your organization

Published Nov. 26, 2020

Occasional lunch and learn sessions for your organization’s training or education can spur employee commitment and extend its development program. At MentorCruise, a thriving mentor and mentee community, we host prominent customer-facing professionals who offer expert insights on employee education and advancement plans.

All you need to know to host a successful Lunch-and-Learn Program in your organization

If you’re enthusiastic about your business, the learning never ends. Command of your craft is a continuous process that requires thorough note-taking, insatiable consumption of content, and applying that understanding to real-life situations.

But in reality, you’ll most often have issues fixing a time to introduce or teach this series of concepts. We all have responsibilities outside our work lives that need subsistence as well. Once you’re pressed for time, what happens? How do we keep up with the tsunami of knowledge and modern advancements in our companies with the time issues? At this point, a lunch and learn program is the perfect fit.

In this article, you’ll learn the following:

  • What is lunch and learn?
  • Benefits of lunch and learn.
  • How to create a successful lunch and learn program
  • How to do lunch and learn
  • Lunch and learn ideas and topics

What is lunch and learn?

A lunch and learn program is an unofficial training session during lunchtime.

During such sessions, the employers encourage employees to eat lunch in a group setting while concurrently using that time slot to finish seminars, training, and other education.

This session draws excellent benefits to the company, like boosting employee morale and recognizing organizational concerns. You can lure your employees into attending a learning module if they discern they will get some delightful treats.

Benefits of lunch and learn programs

  • Presents excellent management of time restraints
  • An informal setting results in a low-pressure training atmosphere
  • Collective training creates a more effective work culture.
  • Provides employees with an opportunity to show their hobbies
  • Boost employee self-esteem
  • Generates realization of organizational concerns

How to create a lunch and learn program

When you’re managing a business, it often seems like there is never enough time to accomplish every single task.

This ideal training dilemma insinuates you can’t spare employees to train because there’s always much work to be done. Still, you can’t undervalue their training and growth if you desire that your business succeeds.

While employees value their lunch hours as an occasion to reset for the afternoon session, a training program that seldom taps into this hour can be exciting and exhilarating for everyone concerned. The following ideas will surely help you out.

Framework: sharing, exploring, or intriguing

Your presentations may fall into any of these three approaches: sharing, exploring, or intriguing. Determine the one that best suits you, and then drill down into likely topical areas.

Depending on your aspired result and readiness level, scan through an ideal presentation and an excellent upshot, then you can determine the model you’d prefer to follow.

The sharing approach

The sharing approach has to do with a topic you’re skilled at and can “translate” to others.

It’s quite common that people often fear to call themselves experts in several situations. You may want to drop that absurd notion or substitute the word specialist if that makes you feel better.

Everyone is skilled at something from which others can learn, and you are not an exception.

  • Identify a field of expertise that would adjust properly for sharing.
  • You may begin with a brainstorm of all areas of the speciality skills you possess.
  • If there are pieces of your experience relevant to share with your target audience, list them, and examine those you’ve mastered that others would find interesting.
  • To get an added profundity, bring a friend to interview you and ask you what you do and what you love about it.
  • Feel free to expand it to a more individualized approach of sharing pieces of training gained that would be great for others to know.

The exploring approach

In this case, you find a topic to guide the audience into the discovery process. This approach is especially great at identifying how informed the audience is via the process of self-discovery. You provide the path, and they follow it and learn. You enlighten for them to discover and learn.

A key piece in this approach is audience exercises like self-assessments or practices. Before completing an hour with you, they must have outlined something about themselves that is estimable and probably practical. They walk away with achieving something useful and instantly beneficial.

This is an excellent way to display something you’re knowledgeably not an expert in but are curious about. Here, your audience will correlate to you in both points, that is, the lack of expertise and curiosity.

In this case, you act as the hero performing the background investigation to discover more on it and share what you’ve acquired.

  • Choose something that interests you and do research.
  • Check out for ideas online, then transcribe them into your words.

Make sure your program is interesting for lunch

Learn-at-lunch training sessions are usually informal and less structured compared with conventional training events. The topics need to be appealing to make the time investment beneficial.

To make your learn-at-lunch program enjoyable, you may want to consider the following tips.

  • Assign an employee to order the food, program the presentations, and weekly remind fellow employees about the program.
  • Maintain a regular calendar and structure the program, so employees learn to expect it on a specific day.
  • Arriving an agreement on a preferred restaurant will lure even more employees to part-take.

Gain support from management and HR to conduct these programs.

Earn the support of your boss, administrator, and HR, or training and development experts before conducting lunch and learn programs.

How to do lunch and learn

Things to teach

Experts advise that lunch and learn programs be based on voluntary participation so that sessions can accommodate extra resources that make your employees comfortable to learn. To achieve this, you may consider the following;

  • Pick compelling, relevant topics.
  • Define learning objectives
  • Try to offer light, healthy lunch snacks and beverages within these sessions.
  • Publish the schedule in advance.
  • Provide light, advance reading, or materials whenever appropriate.
  • Encourage employees to present views for work or life-related matters.
  • Evaluate employees’ satisfaction per session and improve the program accordingly.
  • Choose a location that encourages both training and eating.
  • Consider the needs of remote employees who may want to at
  • Make attendance voluntary and focus on content that ensures participants expand their professional skills or capabilities to navigate life’s challenges.
  • Try to advertise the event by posting flyers around the office, sending emails, and listing them in the calendars.

Things to Avoid

Lunch and learn sessions must be good time-efficient and time-saving sessions that help workers retain business and personal skills. To reap this program’s full rewards,

  • It is best to host such sessions in a quiet conference room.
  • Also, make sure these sessions do not replace compulsory legal training.
  • Avoid serious topics, such as ethics and harassment training.
  • Remember that employees wouldn’t want to spend their lunch hours reminded about things they understand they shouldn’t do.
  • Maintain the time slot to stay within the allotted time frame given for lunch breaks. For example, if your company has one-hour lunch breaks, manage 30-45 minutes for this event. Participants may need time to settle in, relax, eat, and ‘digest’ all of the information.

Lunch and learn ideas and topics

External mentorship and coaching

Mentorship and coaching are extremely beneficial for the career growth of your employees and organization. Essentially, it constitutes the best way to scale internal knowledge.

From sessions on leadership skills to improving team communication, external help can help make your employees more efficient and better at working together. Moreover, these are sensitive topics that may need to be taught by someone who’s outside your organizational politics.

Mentors and coaches help to establish a genuine and tangible change in individuals and to boost the transfer of knowledge from the mentor/coach to the individual lunch and learn program.

From guiding projects to training, MentorCruise’s professionals can help you stem educational and organizational shifts without slowing you down. You can book expert advice or training to secure a successful learn and lunch program or continuous employee development.

Cross-departmental training

An example of the most appropriate uses of a lunch-and-learn program is cross-training – when an agent explains their daily duties to coworkers of different departments, that worker can further teach unique job-specific skills.

Generally, cross-departmental training will build a stronger cohesion in your workplace and improve teamwork skills by enabling all employees to appreciate the inner functioning of each team.

Besides, cross-departmental training can incorporate recaps of new or forthcoming projects, as well as achievements for that particular individual or the entire team. When working in an organization, it’s easy to get covered up in your team and miss out on what everyone else is doing.

By incorporating occasional cross-training lunch-and-learns programs, you can ensure that you are all rooting on one another’s progress and heedful of all who help make your organization run at its best.

Product Training

Lunch-and-learns can equally be an exceptional opportunity for enlightening employees on new products, product workflow, onboard flow, app management, or products updates.

Corporations in several industries are regularly investigating, testing, and inventing fresh ideas for products and services. Except you’re one of the members in the crew assigned to creating these products, you may discover that you know little or nothing about what your company is selling.

By tutoring the whole firm on its products through a lunch and learn session, you can be sure that any employee can explain them to a consumer or prospect.

Instead of compelling employees to study the products at their own time or take upon online training courses, which might not survive the average attention span, you’ll be helping them learn in a friendly and open environment during their lunch breaks.

Social media training

You’ll want to ensure that your marketing or public relations experts host your lunch and learn programs so that they can inform other employees regarding social media best practices.

Give primary information concerning social media newbies before connecting the highlights of your firm’s social media approach.

Do you want employees to post entertaining photos from work-related incidents and tag your business? Do you want to Present example posts and demonstrate how commitment online can profit your bottom dollar.

Are you looking to entice new employees? Lunch-and-learn is a powerful tool for networking. You can get an idea for those engrossed in your firm and build an informal relationship with prospects.

Peer-to-peer professional development training

Learn and lunch sessions can be a unique event for peer-to-peer training. Peer-to-peer training is a great way to convey skills from competent and experienced team members to others who are either newly recruited or less skilled. This is a great team-building exercise between employees of different functions and seniority levels.

Peer-to-peer training during learn and lunch sessions enable employees to learn in a non-judgmental and friendly situation, which is profitable for all involved.

Hobbies and personal development

Most employees enjoy sharing their expertise and interests with coworkers in the company in a non-work setting, something they may not otherwise be ready to do. Such unique settings can be during lunch and learn sessions. This could be an art therapy session, pottery classes, and so on.

Getting involved in a variety of exercises outside of work makes employees a greater asset inside of work.

Life skills

Life skills are the skills you require to handle the activities and challenges of life effectively. Mastery and improvement of these skills can enhance all fields of your life, from relationships to work. These skills are transferable, so learn and lunch programs can offer a great opportunity.

Potential Risks and Snares

  • Making participation mandatory may risk these learning events less to become interesting. Your goal is to have some of your participants say to their colleagues ‘Oh! You ought to have been there’.
  • Also, offering a narrow range of subjects can bore some participants and decrease participation over time. So learn to make your learning objectives specific.
  • Remember to your remote employees, especially for team-building initiatives. You may probably alienate relevant professionals if you neglect remote employees.
  • Lastly, if you program for too many such events, there is the risk of annoying employees who consider their lunch hours as a period to get off their desks and exercise, decompress, or run errands.

Supplement your lunch-and-learn sessions with mentorship

Thriving companies invest in promoting employee development. Although training can be costly, and the outcome sometimes questionable, learn-at-lunch programs grant fun and non-threatening method for expanding learning and arousing creativity and energy in the workplace.

However, this may require an extra effort and time for proper coaching if such programs must emerge successfully. Ultimately you’ve to allocate some cash to hire a mentor, not only to secure success but also, to be off schedule to do that.