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

[March 24, 2020] BY Chinami Ojiri

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How to Incorporate Lunch & Learn

1. Choose a Topic

The most important thing in a Lunch & Learn is, of course, the topic of the event. The style and topic of the event is different each time, and it may be held for several weeks with options such as lectures with external lecturers, in-house meetings, seminars to deepen their expertise. In addition, the content of the event does not have to be limited to business. Mental and physical health stimulation, volunteer activities, art, culture, and a wide range of other topics are also included.

In addition, a Lunch & Learn can also be used as one of the new Human Resource Development tactics by aligning the interests of employees and the direction of the company’s Human Resource Development.

Examples of Topics

<Business>

  • How to manage work-life balance
  • Communication skills training
  • Time management training
  • Work efficiency using business apps
  • How to assemble a presentation

<Health>

  • Measures for mental health and lifestyle-related diseases
  • Methods of stress management
  • Consultation meeting based on medical examination

<Other>

  • How to take advantage of benefits that include advice and counseling
  • In-house restaurant / cafe menu development
  • Sharing knowledge around employees’ individual and personal interests

It would be good to distribute a pre-questionnaire to employees to increase the value of the event and make it more effective so that the topic can be adjusted to suit various subjects, such as what kind of knowledge and skills employees want to gain and what kind of things they are interested in outside of work.

2. Choose an Event Style

– Seminar style

The seminar style is the usual option adopted in Lunch & Learn. The main purpose of the seminar is not limited to internal communication, but also to invite lecturers and speakers from outside, and to provide opportunities and environments in which employees can gain new knowledge and skills.

Studio Blitz, which was also introduced at the beginning, says, “We regularly invite lecturers and speakers from outside, and we give opportunities for employees to learn something while also providing lunch.” In fact, More and more companies are creating an environment of “learning” in their offices. In Japan, requests for “shortening of working hours” and “greater efficiency” mean that learning time must be done efficiently.

(Picture: Austin Distel on Unsplash)

In addition, the seminar style is often hosted by external parties. For example, Lunch & Learn is also held for the purpose of introducing companies and promoting new products via product manufacturers, distributors, and sales companies. In the United States, where I worked before, various furniture and merchandise manufacturers came to the office and had a Lunch & Learn about once or twice a week. In fact, after the event, orders of products and materials were placed, and consultations on upcoming projects began. Lunch & Learn in Europe and the United States is used as an effective exchange with external companies while guaranteeing learning opportunities for employees.

– Meeting style

Learn & Lunch is sometimes used as a place for casual in-house meetings, in-house presentations and project presentations.
For example, by using the main project that each department is currently working on as an opportunity to present for multiple departments, it is possible to deepen the lateral understanding between departments. It is also a good idea to create a platform where new recruits and younger employees, who rarely have an opportunity to present ideas, have the chance to give presentations on a certain theme and receive advice from their bosses and senior employees while training for public speaking.

– In-house cultural exchange

In the United States and Europe, where multicultural societies are common, informal gatherings are held at lunchtime, such as birthday parties for employees and potlucks where multicultural and multi-ethnic participants can bring food and drinks from their various backgrounds.

One company says that the first job of a newcomer intern is to make a presentation that tells about his or her local or local culture. They make presentations using a variety of approaches, including an introduction of their own language, traditional cuisine, music and/or art. After the presentation, the presenter asks questions about cultural understandings to naturally facilitate intercultural exchange.

In homogeneous countries like Japan, the number of foreign employees is increasing year by year, but there are few opportunities to deepen Japanese employees’ understanding by experiencing the culture and language of foreign employees in their daily work. Why not use Lunch & Learn as a place to deepen exchanges with foreign employees or multicultural employees and create a workplace that respects diversity?

3. Choose Lunch Details

Lunch & Learn is an event using the lunch break of the employee, in other words, it will take precedence over the”net time of lunch.” Therefore, in order to encourage the participation of a lot of employees with a more positive atmosphere, there are many cases where the organizer offers free lunch with both internal and external presenters.

In some cases, the organizers are very particular about the content of the lunch as a place to approach the corporate culture. For example, employees of foreign-affiliated companies with a wide diversity can create menus representing their motherland or presenters and companies affiliated with environmental conservation can provide menus that deal with organic and locally produced produce and ingredients.

In the United States and Europe, meal delivery services such as UberEats are commonplace, but there are also office services and catering services available specifically for Lunch & Learn events. For example, STADIUM, a New York-based office lunch catering service, has partnered with more than 100 eateries to offer service for Lunch & Learn, team meetings, customer meetings, and internal meetings from over 300 menus. The corresponding lunch contents can then be delivered to the office.

(Picture: STADIUM website)

4. Ask for Feedback

Measure the satisfaction of the participants in each session and adjust the subsequent programs as needed based on the feedback received. By continuing to make plans so that participants can feel that they “got a lot of learning and stimulation and were able to spend a meaningful time during lunch break”, it is possible to continue to promote the growth of employees as a company as well.

Finally: The Positive Impact on Health Management

Lunch & Learn is an effective way to get employees in the office to talk about things other than work. While not yet a trend in Japan, it would likely positively affect mental health if implemented.

In recent years, more and more companies have introduced Health Management in various forms, but aiming to be awarded some “health management excellence” brand achieved by only making superficial efforts is not definitive of success. It will be necessary for the entire company to take a meaningful and proactive approach to maintaining the mental and physical health of its employees and improving their quality of life, to raise the awareness of each employee, and to create an environment in which they can work happily.

As a concrete initiative to establish the importance of mental and physical health as a part of the “corporate culture,” why not consider the introduction of the easy to adopt Lunch & Learn to create a new place for learning and exchange that makes use of lunchtime.

<Other reference articles/literature>
https://www.milkandhoneywellness.com/corporate-nutrition

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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.