Lunching and Learning: A Perfect Combination

by Arlene Dayboch

What is a Lunch and Learn Program?

Here’s a terrific win/win strategy that will help employees stay healthy and motivated, learn something new and get away from their desks during lunch – all at the same time. All of this is possible through a new initiative called Lunch and Learn, a speaker program offered to employees during the lunch hour. Events, which offer a blend of information and excitement, may be held in employee cafeterias, auditoriums or conference rooms.

Many employers have found that their employees’ personal development and happiness is intricately tied to their motivation level and satisfaction from their jobs. Providing programs that will help them, both on a personal and professional level, can vastly improve productivity on the job. A Lunch and Learn program can be a training or management session, exercise class, personal or business development workshop or a lecture on health or personal finance. Popular topics include “Stress Reduction,” “Time Management,” “Planning For Retirement,” “Caring for Your Aging Parents” and “Effective Communication and Relationship Skills.”

Lunch and Learns can also promote health and safety, reinforce corporate culture, introduce new initiatives, improve communication, build team spirit and show employees they are valued by management. Some employers implement Lunch and Learns as a way to satisfy state or federal guidelines and mandates while others offer these programs simply because they are fun, informative and raise employee morale.

Benefits of Lunch and Learns

In working environments, employee interaction is often limited to professional exchanges, addressing the work at hand. Bringing workers together to pursue common interests can be extremely beneficial to both the employee and the employer, increasing staff camaraderie and efficiency. Discussion of different communication styles, anger management, assertiveness and diversity training also help co-workers interact more effectively both inside and out of the office.

Lunch and Learns are also a way for employees from different departments to get to know each other. Sharing interests, hobbies and even pet peeves with co-workers can help create more productive and harmonious working relationships and foster a sense of unity and team spirit among the staff.

With so many responsibilities already falling to busy HR departments, some employers may feel that the development of a Lunch and Learn program isn’t a priority. However, organizations that offer the programs find them to be one of the simplest and most cost effective “value added” perks in their overall employee packages. Cheryl Latiff, EEO manager, National Weather Service, puts it this way, “We have between six and eight special emphasis programs each year. Since we use the services of a speaker’s bureau it is a minimal amount of work. Basically, we just advertise the program and secure a conference room.”

Getting Started

Companies interested in implementing Lunch and Learn programs need only to select topics of value to employees and market them effectively through company newsletters and signs posted throughout the office. Since employees are more likely to participate when encouraged by their managers and supervisors, gaining management support is a crucial step in the process.

HR departments may want to contact their local speaker’s bureau for help. Speaker’s bureaus offer free consultative services and will act as matchmaker to find the most appropriate programs and the best speakers for your organization. They will coordinate schedules, do the paperwork, negotiate contracts/fees and provide speaker bios and topic descriptions.

For more information on how to find a speaker, check out the International Association of Speakers website at

Author Bio: Arlene Dayboch is founder of Strictly Speaking Inc., a Long Island-based speakers bureau. For more information call 631 979-4433, e-mail or visit

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