Lunch and learn programs are sometimes referred to as learn-at-lunch, or “brown-bag” sessions due to the brown bags used to carry lunches. Most companies today use lunch and learn programs as an alternative to formal training and seminars. The programs become integral parts of the organizational culture and hopefully an event that employees look forward to.
A lunch and learn event is an opportunity for co-workers from different teams to meet and share their skills and expertise. It could be a one-off session, where your new business manager outlines your company’s sales strategy, for example. Or it could be a course that takes place over several weeks, such as your development team teaching the basics of coding.
As an incentive to attend, the food is normally paid for by the employer. But if an event has been set up at short notice, or if the participants prefer, people can bring along their own food instead.
What are the types of Lunch & Learn programs?
Lunch and Learn programs are typically attended by staff on a voluntary basis, therefore companies will often select unique lessons and programs to interest employees to attend and learn. Here are some typical lunch and learn programs which have been popular among companies.
1. Personal Development
Companies may take advantage of lunch breaks to train employees in skills that improve their awareness and identity. It can also involve developing talents and building human capital. Employees can learn how to draw, make wood carvings, weave, learn self-defense (martial arts), yoga, fitness, etc.
2. Diversity Activities
The growth in information and technology continues to contribute to workforce diversity, with companies hiring employees from different backgrounds, cultures, and races. The organization can invite guest speakers to address its diverse workforce on exciting topics that employees would like to learn more about. Employees can also use the opportunity to showcase their cross-cultural talents and traditions.
3. Life Skills
The lunch and learn program may also focus on training employees on essential life skills. The company can train its staff nearing employment on retirement planning, income-generating activities for retirees, etc. Employees may also be interested in learning personal finance management like budgeting and managing investments.
4. Employee-led Professional Development
Employees can use the lunch and learn sessions to learn the responsibilities of other employees in other departments. For example, the company’s IOS developer can teach how to build an IOS app, while someone in the accounting department can train other staff members on how financial forecasting works. Not only will the employees learn new skills, but they also learn to appreciate the responsibilities of their colleagues.
Cross-training involves training an employee to perform the roles of another department. Worker A can learn the tasks allocated to B, while B can learn the tasks performed by A. The company can use the lunch and learn sessions to cross-train its employees, since it increases their value in the company, and minimizes fatigue associated with performing one function every day.
Benefits of Lunch and Learn Programs
There is a multitude of benefits for companies that adopt lunch and learn initiatives.
1. Helps with transparency and understanding
In large organizations with several departments, employees may not know the functions of employees in other departments. Some may not even know the team across the office because they hardly get an opportunity to interact. Lunch and learn sessions serve as platforms for employees to bond and explain their responsibilities. When an employee understands what everyone does and gets an opportunity to learn new skills, they better appreciate the other employees in the company.
2. Encourages growth and learning
A platform that allows employees to share ideas with each other also encourages them to grow their unexploited skills and talents. Lunch and learn sessions allow employees to teach others what they are best in and this gives them an opportunity to nurture their skills, and even speak during seminars and conferences. Employees who are not comfortable addressing a large crowd of people get the opportunity to address people they are familiar with, and this helps to build self-confidence.
3. Strengthens the community
Often, employees get engaged so much in work that they forget their lives outside of the organization. Instead of letting the lunch break lapse without any meaningful engagements, they can use this time to showcase their talents, outside projects, and hobbies. They can link up with employees who share the same interests and build a community.
4. Builds a stronger work culture
Apart from providing employees with an exciting alternative to a lunch break, lunch and learn sessions help to strengthen the work culture. Employees appreciate what other employees in other departments do, and this increases their engagement in the company. They also work to the best of their capabilities when they know that the organization values their contributions.
Now, how do we begin?
Aventis is pleased to have been a partner to our corporate clients, PAP Community Foundation, and Vistra Singapore, in co-partnering a series of Lunch & Learn programs in 2019. The Lunch & Learn sessions took place once every two months, over 90 minutes per session.
These are some popular lunch and learn topics which were well received by our corporate clients:
- The Secrets of Interpreting Body Language Masterclass
- Sun Tzu’s Art of War for Success: The Complete Strategic and Leadership Insights for Business Leaders
- Workplace Mindfulness and Wellbeing Workshop
- Storytelling for Managers and Leaders
- Power Networking Skills
- 6 Great Habits of Highly Productive & Successful Executives