Lunch is a favorite time of day for many people who work in an office setting.
No matter what the morning is like, lunch gives you an opportunity to refresh and charge your batteries. It’s something to look forward to every day and lets you move to the afternoon ahead with new energy and confidence.
But lunch can also be enlightening, not just energizing. You can do more with it than ever before.
The key: The “Lunch and Learn” program.
What is a Lunch and Learn?
A lunch and learn is an onsite learning program where an expert – usually someone from inside the company, but sometimes a guest – takes time to share valuable information on an important topic.
With a lunch and learn, your team members have the opportunity to get something done at lunch. Plus, they can develop their skills in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
Lunch and learn programs usually last only about 30-45 minutes out of every lunch out, so there’s time to get situated at the start and clean up at the end without rushing.
Five Benefits of a Lunch and Learn
1. Faster, Easier, More Targeted Learning
Not everyone tests well or does great in a traditional “classroom” environment.
Because the atmosphere in a lunch and learn is intimate and informal, people often find it easier to learn what they need to know. People tend to look forward to the opportunity and even enjoy it.
Since a lunch learning program takes up a relatively short time, each presenter must really focus in on the topic at hand. That forces those who wish to be instructors to really drill into the core issues and emphasize the key things to know – also a great relief to the “students.”
2. More Opportunities to Teach and Mentor
To really understand any subject, you need to know it well enough to teach it to others.
Unfortunately, there’s usually a lot of red tape keeping people from stepping up and sharing what they know. Lunch learning means more employees will know how to teach and train.
This can influence career trajectories and even help your people uncover a passion that they didn’t expect before. It’s not so difficult for a speaker at lunch learning to realize that a future as a trainer sounds pretty good – and soon, your enterprise will be building up even more knowledge capital.
3. Lower Turnover and Faster Recruitment
Career-minded people are always looking for ways to improve their skills. This is especially true in industries like information technology and, yes, marketing. Making it less of a chore for team members to keep their skills sharp benefits everyone and strengthens loyalty to the employer.
Learning at lunch demonstrates to potential new hires that they’ll have opportunities to grow all throughout their tenure at your company. When you invest in others’ success, they will be much more likely to invest their time with you and stick with you through tomorrow’s challenges.
4. Clearer Goals and Higher Achievement
Your lunch and learn program helps you to clarify the organizational goals. To really maximize a program’s impact, it’s vital to look at the business situation and figure out how to get from point A to point B – only then can you highlight the skills each individual and team may need.
Of course, that whole discovery process means that learning can be aligned to your strategic objectives. Over a few months, you may find that more of your personnel have the skills they need to adapt quickly to new problems and perform at their best when the pedal hits the metal.
5. Closer Coordination and Teamwork
Sometimes people like to eat alone, but for the most part, social connection helps people move to the same beat.
Team members who might not normally have the chance to meet one another can start to foster real trust as part of a lunch and learn. Cross-functional teamwork becomes a snap.
Working together is essential to success in any large enterprise. When people learn together, they are growing and reaching for improvement side by side. All of a sudden, they see others not just as co-workers, but as resources they can connect with when they need a helping hand.
6. Streamlined Certification and Compliance
Lots of organizations are in the position of having to learn and apply new information on an ongoing basis. IT-focused enterprises, for example, won’t last long if they don’t stay ahead of the latest data security trends. Finance and healthcare firms must comply with emerging regulations.
When all this is separate from the workday, it becomes a source of enormous overhead that staff often have to shoulder on their own. When you can learn at lunch, things are a lot better: Big compliance challenges seem simpler, and individuals have a clear path to useful learning assets.
A lunch and learn can really get your department cooking. Give it a try and you’ll see the tasty results!