How to organize a lunch and learn at the office

How to organize a lunch and learn at the office

A lunch and learn provides essential training over the lunch hour. Your team gathers into a central location, and as they enjoy a shared lunch, they also learn about a topic relevant to your office. Done correctly, this program can boost morale, provide essential group training, and improve employee skills.

If you’re ready to organize your own lunch and learn at the office, here’s a step-by-step guide to help make it happen.

Pick a location

Whenever you organize an event, you need to find an ideal location. Often lunch and learns take place in an employee break room or in the office’s conference room.

As you’re scoping out locations, keep these questions in mind:

  •  How many people will be attending?
  • Do you have any multi-media needs? (These could include outlets, a projector, telephone for virtual staff members to participate, etc.)
  • What sort of set up do you need for tables and chairs? Remember to account for a food table!
  • Is the atmosphere comfortable and conducive for learning?

You’ll want to find a space with plenty of room for everyone. Otherwise the squished feeling will take away from the experience. If there’s no appropriate place on site, consider renting a nearby conference room.

Select a recurring date and time

Doing lunch and learns on a regular schedule will help make it part of your company culture. Decide how often you’ll meet. Many businesses host weekly or monthly lunch and learns, but you’ll need to decide what works best for your company.

Once you know how often you’ll be meeting, check out the company calendar. You’re looking for days and times that aren’t super busy. It’s also appropriate to get insight from your employees.

When you’ve got it on the calendar, make it easier for everyone to remember by using words like every third Wednesday at 11 or each Tuesday at noon.

Decide on a topic

Every lunch and learn needs a topic. As you plan each event, ask yourself:

  • What will we learn?
  • What is the takeaway? (Or why should everyone show up?)

When picking a topic, it’s essential to keep it relevant. Make sure your employees have a reason to care.  You should also keep it short. Even if you have a whole hour, keep the training portion to 30-45 minutes. This ensures everyone has time for a break before heading back to work.

While brainstorming topics, keep your training requirements in mind. Are there any federal or locally required training pieces that could be covered in this event?

Pick a format

Are you going to have a speaker? If so, who will it be?

While you could do all of the training, having a variety of presenters can keep your lunch and learns fresh.  You might consider enlisting your team members. They could each have an assigned lunch and learn date to share a relevant topic of choice.

Another option is to bring in a guest speaker. You’ll want someone who is an expert in their field.

Live speakers aren’t the only way to deliver information. You can also use videos to teach. Here are three suggestions:

  • Watch a TED talk
  • Play a prerecorded training video
  • Stream a video from YouTube from an expert

Select a menu

Lunch is a key component of your lunch and learns. Many companies host these events, and provide food for everyone attending.  If you’re going to do this, consider sending out a survey to your team. This way you can get an idea of preferences and any food restrictions.

Common options include:

  • Pizza
  • Sub sandwiches
  • BBQ
  • Salad bar
  • Taco bar
  • Catering from a local restaurant

You can also hold lunch and learns as “brown bag” events. This means your attendees will provide their own food. While not as common, this can help reduce costs for the company.  No matter what you’ll be eating, remember to account for food restrictions. If you have team members who are gluten-free or vegetarian, be sure to accommodate their needs.

Market it!

Now that the logistics are handled, it’s time to market your lunch and learn. Send out email invitations to each team member and hang up a poster in the break room. Let everyone know:

  • When it’s taking place
  • Where to go
  • What they’ll be eating
  • Who will be presenting
  • What they’ll learn

Providing these key details will help everyone know what to expect. Remember to send out a reminder the day before.

Host the event

When the time comes, make sure the room is set. You might consider enlisting a team to set up and clean up, so you don’t have to do it alone.  Make sure there’s enough room around the tables to avoid traffic jams. As you’re setting out the food, make sure everything has utensils.  Depending on your menu, you’ll also need to set out:

When your team starts gathering, give everyone a chance to dish up their food and get settled. Make sure any multi-media elements are working properly. When it’s over, you’ll need to take care of any leftover food and gather any trash. Make sure to put away any extra tables or chairs you had set out.

Gather feedback

Take a few minutes after your lunch and learn to distribute a quick survey. You’ll want your employees to be able to respond anonymously so they can give honest feedback.  Ask them about:

  • The relevance of the event
  •  Their thoughts on the food
  •  How they felt about the space
  •  Any ideas they have to improve the event

Once you’ve gathered feedback, try to incorporate changes into your next lunch and learn.

Repeat

By following the steps above, you’ll have successfully organized a lunch and learn at the office. Now it’s time to start planning the next one by repeating the steps. Before you know it, these events will be positively contributing to your company’s culture.


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