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Lunch & Learn: How to Effectively Use Lunchtime for Health Management

[March 24, 2020] BY Chinami Ojiri

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Translated By Alexandria Hill

How do you spend your lunchtime? What do you eat? And what does lunchtime look like inside your company?

According to the latest edition of Shinsei Bank’s annual survey on daily life, which focuses on salaried employees in 2019, the most common way to spend money at lunchtime is by “browsing the internet.” The majority of men and women office workers between the ages of 20 and 40 are mainly looking at their smartphones. Next to that, men reported “nap/break time” while women said “chat with colleagues.” It seems as though the vast majority of people seek a break from work for a change of pace.

In an eight hour workday, lunchtime is the only organized long break available. Refreshing your state of mind by yourself is not bad, but you may want to take advantage of your office environment with your colleagues and use lunchtime effectively as an opportunity for input and exchange. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of companies adopting substantial cafeteria space as a revitalizing space, and many companies are looking for ways to use it effectively.

So, this time, we will introduce the initiative “Lunch & Learn” and using lunchtime effectively. In Asian countries like Japan, it is still very rare to do something using lunchtime, but in Europe and the United States, this approach is frequently adopted as an integral part of managing health. In addition to the merits of Lunch & Learn, I would like to introduce it with a concrete method of implementation.

What is Lunch & Learn?

Lunch and Learn is an event that, as the name implies, holds study sessions and seminars using lunchtime. Participants eat lunch, listen to the speech or lecture of the day, gain new knowledge, and exchange opinions.

Participation in the event is generally voluntary since lunchtime is not considered working hours. Depending on the theme, it is a good opportunity to expand the exchange of knowledge with other departments, which usually have little interaction, by changing the participants according to the style and topic of the event.

(Image: bantersnaps on Unsplash)

Benefits of Lunch & Learn

– Internal communication

Lunch & Learn, unlike so-called well-set up meetings, is held in a casual atmosphere to learn without stress. Therefore, more active communication is likely to be born.

As companies and departments expand in size and the number of employees and departments increase, the relationship between employees becomes less and less important. In such cases, as one of the measures to create opportunities for employee interaction outside of work, setting up an in-house event that deals with a wide range of topics can create opportunities for employees to know aspects other than their work and lead to solving organizational issues. Employees who are unable to participate in after-work drinking events due to family circumstances can also participate in daytime events, so more employees are expected to participate.

Highlighted in the article on the NEW STANDARD office, they introduced a self-cooked lunch culture using a kitchen space and a party where business partners, family, and friends are invited every month. This initiative is similar to lunch and lunch, and it is one way to find out the meaning and value of having an office now that it is possible for employees to work anywhere and come into the office at anytime.

– Opportunities for input

Like the aforementioned Studio Blitz, a Lunch & Learn can effectively provide input opportunities for employees by devising the topics they deal with. Although there are a small number of workers who read at lunchtime and increase their learning a little, one of the benefits of Lunch & Learn is that this ambitious approach can be spread throughout the company.

Although speakers can be prepared by in-house personnel, there are many cases in Europe and the United States where the company prepares a budget and calls for specialists and speakers from outside to provide more high-quality input time. In recent years, the use of lunch and cafeteria spaces created by companies not only for the purpose of revitalizing employees but also for creating learning spaces, greatly expands space utilization.

– Efficient use of time

Since Lunch & Learn is an event in the limited time of your lunch break, you do not have to restrain employees outside the working time frame, such as after work or on holiday. In addition, since there are many cases in which participation is basically voluntary, there is no need to ask employees to adjust the work schedule forcibly. Even as work style reforms have led to the reduction of working hours, it is possible to support the input of employees efficiently.

In this regard, Lunch & Learn is a new type of corporate culture that is relatively easy to adopt. Also, in Europe and the US, where people think that working outside of work hours conflicts with their important time with their family and their private life, the popularity of lunchtime-based events is convincing.

– Practicing health management

Lunch & Learn can be part of any health management initiative, making it an easy event for companies to introduce. There are two main ways to do this. The first is to choose a topic related to improving and managing health. By providing lectures and discussions on healthy eating and healthy mental health, we can raise awareness of the health of our employees.

The second way to choose a healthy menu. Lunch preparation is mentioned below, but with a Lunch & Learn, organizers often provide lunch. In the case of an in-house organizer in particular, the company arranges lunches, and by choosing and providing healthy meals, it is possible to directly give the opportunity to raise the awareness of employees. Since the participation rate of employees can also be expected to improve by providing free healthy food, certain effects can be expected.

A San Francisco startup, Segment, offers healthy lunches in its cafeteria while also regularly hosting wellness seminars. Lack of nutrition and unhealthy eating habits of employees can cause serious damage to companies later as invisible costs, such as increased obesity, risk of illness, increased health insurance claims and absenteeism, and reduced employee productivity. In fact, there are quite a few companies that create Lunch & Learn in a way that suits them best.

Next page: How to start Lunch & Learn

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Writer of this post

Chinami OjiriAfter spent several years working as an office designer, she is now studying at a school in interior design to pursuing her career deeper in the field.