by Sophia Dass
On the first Friday of every month, the team at Flame PR gather for a ‘Lunch and Learn’ regardless of meetings or hectic schedules, PR and Business Development cast their laptops aside and engage in an hour of knowledge sharing. At Flame, a Lunch and Learn is more than free pizza and PowerPoints (although there’s no denying that the pizza is a perk!). Running these sessions is an integral part of the culture we try to cultivate, which is that of creative thought, encouraging and enacting positive change, and creating a space for comfortable and open discussion.
Lunch and Learns shouldn’t solely be used as a way to reinforce company agenda. Instead, these sessions are most useful when set up to generate innovative thought, creativity, and approach any issues through a new lens. To provide an example, we ran a session on personal development, with a focus on how to stimulate positive language/conversation and learning - whether that be in the context of self-coaching or coaching colleagues.
To make the session interactive, we included an ice-breaker where every member of the team completed a short personality test. Of course, this was a little tongue-in-cheek, but it was helpful for members of the team to highlight their communication preferences, as well as more specific interactions such as giving and receiving feedback.
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your Lunch and Learns, it’s important to ask the following question: how do these sessions help all employees? In order for everyone to benefit, it’s a good idea to invite members of the team to suggest topics. Ideas don’t have to be linked to everyday business - a session on how to promote mental wellbeing in the office, for example, would be valuable for everyone. It’s also a good idea to encourage everyone to share their unique expertise with the rest of the team – whether that be writing, relationship management or generating new business leads.
In addition, a rota should be put in place, to ensure that all team members have the chance to contribute their ideas. The number of Lunch and Learns should be limited to once a month so that conveners have time to create a truly engaging session. It’s also important to be mindful that scheduling too many of these events risks becoming an inconvenience to employees, as lunch periods are often a time to get away from desks and re-charge. It’s worth measuring participant satisfaction after each session, so that you can refine future programs as needed, based on the feedback received.
Ultimately, lunch and learn sessions should be treated as an informal method for extending learning and stimulating creativity in the workplace. Whilst many individuals value their lunch periods as an opportunity to reset for the afternoon, an educational session that occasionally taps into this period can be valuable and inspiring for everyone involved.