There never seems to be enough time during the day to get everything done. You can't spare people to go to training because there is so much work to be done, but you also can't neglect their training and development. Learn at Lunch is a way to get more training done by making the lunch hour multi-tasking.
What is Learn at Lunch?
At its simplest, a learn at lunch program is a training event scheduled during the lunch hour. Employees who attend bring their lunches and eat them during the training session. The training is usually less formal and less structured than normal.
Typical Learn at Lunch programs include:
Skills training. This can range from teaching Customer Service reps how to answer the phone correctly to providing leadership training to first line managers.
Product training. If your company have many products or services, a program of Learn at Lunch sessions can help all employees better understand the product differences.
Professional development. Give people an opportunity to learn what people in other departments do. Do you have someone in IT who could teach a course in programming basics or someone in accounting who could explain hoe financial forecasting works? Maybe someone in HR could teach a session on how to interview better.
Personal development. A Learn at Lunch program does not have to be strictly business. You could offer an occasional session on any talent any of your employees is willing to teach, from wood carving to painting or drawing.
- Life skills. You could bring in a guest speaker to explain to your employees the different types of insurance and the benefits of each. Or have a class in household budgeting, first aid, or fire safety, anything that helps your employees learn.
What Learn at Lunch is Not
Learn at Lunch is not the time to do training that is required, either by law or by the company. It is not a good time to train employees on serious subjects like ethics or harassment. Don't use Learn at Lunch programs for anything where you need to keep track of who attends.
Learn at Lunch is not good for anything that cannot be covered in 30-45 minutes. People need time to get to the sessions and ask questions and get back to their jobs so keep it brief and focused.
How to Start a Learn at Lunch Program
There are many variations of a Learn at Lunch program. You need to tailor the basics to what works for your company and its culture.
Some planning needs to be done ahead of time and some of it will flow once the program starts. Topics you need to think about ahead of time include:
You need to select the subject for the Learn at Lunch program. See the bullet points above for some examples, but you can select whatever makes sense for your organization.
You will need speakers and trainers to deliver the training in the Learn at Lunch sessions. Many people will complain that they are too busy. Stress the fact that it is short and informal. Tell them how valuable their knowledge is and how good it would be to share that with the rest of the employees. (Sure, you're flattering them, but it's true.)
Pick a place that is supportive of both eating and training. Lunch rooms or cafeterias usually are not a good choice because they tend to be too noisy for the training to be effective. Conference rooms are a good choice. Depending on your location, outdoors can be good, too.
Usually, people bring their own lunches. Sometimes, to make it a special event, the company may want to provide lunch to get a better turnout. For example, if you are having a presentation on the company's latest product, you might want to attract people from many groups. Free lunch of something simple like pizza can help pull them in.
Benefits of Learn at Lunch
The biggest benefit of a Learn at Lunch program is that you are able to get more training delivered to your employees at minimal additional cost.
A Learn at Lunch program doesn't make more hours in the day, but it makes better use of the time you have.
Employees appreciate the voluntary nature of the training. Treating them like adults makes them feel better about the company.
- The trainers enjoy the spotlight of being able to share their expertise with others in the company.
Bottom line, a Learn at Lunch program will give you better trained employees who are more motivated.