The Slice

What is a Lunch and Learn Event, and How Do They Work?

February 3, 2023

Are you looking for ways to promote team-building, boost employee wellness, improve morale, and create a healthy and appealing company culture? A lunch and learn event is an awesome way to meet all those goals. With a lunch and learn event, you offer a delicious catered lunch and a fascinating conversation about a light and interesting topic. How exactly does a lunch and learn event work, though? Are they worth all of the trouble and planning?

Are you looking for ways to promote team-building, boost employee wellness, improve morale, and create a healthy and appealing company culture? A lunch and learn event is an awesome way to meet all those goals.

With a lunch and learn event, you offer a delicious catered lunch and a fascinating conversation about a light and interesting topic. Hosting consistent lunchtime sessions– whether weekly or monthly– can positively impact the entire organization.

How exactly does a lunch and learn event work, though? Are they worth all of the trouble and planning?

Let's dive in and look at the benefits of these lunchtime events, the nuts and bolts of how they work, and how to ensure that your lunch and learn sessions are a success every time.

What Is a Lunch and Learn?

Sometimes referred to as a "brown bag," a lunch and learn is a wonderful opportunity for coworkers to learn something and spend a little social time together while enjoying a delicious lunch. This is a popular, regular event at many companies as it helps to maximize skill building, professional development, and team bonding simultaneously.

A "lunch and learn" training or learning program occurs during lunch break. These are short sessions that usually take place over thirty or sixty-minute periods.

This is a great time to discuss an essential topic, such as employee well-being, or present a new strategy or concept to your team. Since they are fairly short sessions that are held at the same time as employees are eating their lunch, these learning sessions are most successful when the topic is kept on the lighter side.

Usually, a lunch and learn is an internal event with attendees belonging to the same team, department, or organization. It isn't completely unheard of, though, for businesses to host a lunch and learn that is open to the community or other businesses. If you're looking for a way to reach out to the larger community or build a larger network, inviting others to a brown bag can be a creative way to share your company culture and offer the gift of knowledge and skills.

Why Bother Hosting a Lunch and Learn?

At first glance, you might just feel like hosting a lunch and learn sounds like a lot of organizing and planning. Is it worth setting up a regular session where lunch is catered, and employees gather to learn something new for a relatively brief period?

Many organizations feel that the answer is a resounding yes.

The perks of lunch and learn programs are many. You'll find that they can help:

  • Increase motivation, improve morale, and provide positive feedback to your team.

  • Promote collaboration and build relationships between employees.

  • Educate your team regarding company updates, useful life skills, essential professional development topics, and more.

  • Boost both technical and soft skills that are beneficial to your company and workers.

  • Provide an opportunity for coworkers to socialize and discuss ideas with each other.

  • Offer a chance for individuals to get to know one another outside of their normal business interactions.

  • Provides an efficient opportunity for training and teaching employees about useful skills.

  • Networking with the larger community when your brown bag events are open to the public.

Lunch and Learn Training Program Ideas

Since lunch and learn programs usually occur during employees' lunch breaks, they are commonly optional rather than mandatory. You should therefore focus on hosting appealing learning programs to your employees to encourage attendance and participation.

The sky is ultimately the limit when it comes to your lunch and learn topics.

You might choose to have a repeating and rotating calendar of topics– for example, if you host a lunch and learn every week, you might create a schedule that looks like this:

  • Week One: Health and wellness lunch and learn

  • Week Two: Professional development lunch and learn

  • Week Three: Life skill lunch and learn

  • Week Four: Personal development

It can be nice to create variety in the types of programs you offer to help appeal to all of your team members or employees.

Life Skills

It might be tempting to make your brown bag events all about business, but this is an awesome opportunity to offer your employees essential life advice about skills that can help them succeed as individuals.

For example, you might hold a session (or several) on managing personal finances or planning for retirement.

Personal Development

Offering personal development lunch courses for your staff can be a great way to show them that you are invested in their whole person, not just in the part of them that helps your company turn a profit. There are basically an endless number of personal development courses you might choose from when putting on a brown bag lunch series– everything from yoga and painting to singing and carving wood is a viable option.

Some companies might find that personal development courses are some of their most popular and widely attended lunch and learn events. People love learning new skills, and having the opportunity to do something hands-on in the middle of the day can be a wonderful way to take a break and head into the afternoon refreshed.

Though some managers and owners might not love the idea of spending money on courses that don't seem to have anything to do with their business, hosting events focused on personal development can positively impact the culture, which helps boost morale, productivity, and retention.

Diversity Activities

Companies will often also use lunch and learn events to engage in diversity-promoting activities with their teams. You might choose to bring in some guest speakers or do some team-building ideas that promote the ideas of diversity and inclusion.

This can also be a great opportunity for individual team members to showcase their cross-cultural traditions, skills, and talents.


For your company to operate as the well-oiled machine it is, there are many essential moving parts. This means that many of your employees are likely so focused on their own department or responsibilities that they aren't entirely aware of what the other people in the company are up to.

When people have a bigger-picture perspective of the company's purpose and operations, it can help them gain a greater sense of meaning from their work. You might choose to have different teams train each other during these sessions simply as an educational experience, or you might cross-train employees to learn new skills with the goal of having them take on a larger role down the road.

Professional Development

Lunch and learn events are also a wonderful opportunity to help your employees along in their professional and career development.

You might choose to have employees lead these sessions to share skills with their coworkers, bring in guest speakers to offer invaluable advice and guidance, or do a mix of both.

Health and Wellness

Health and wellness brown bag lunches are a worthwhile investment in your team. Balancing work and life is an incredibly difficult task, and this is all the more true for remote workers. Sitting at a computer all day and not having well-defined boundaries between work and life can lead employees to burnout and experience other negative side effects.

This type of lunch and learn can teach your employees useful skills and tips that they can use in their day-to-day lives. On top of that, it shows them that you care about their well-being and their success as a whole person, not just as a worker.

There are basically an endless number of health and wellness sessions you could hold– you might have a yoga class some weeks, nutrition informational sessions on others, and also throw in some educational sessions to help reduce stress.

Time Management

Another popular topic for brown bag lunches is time management.

When your employees learn how to manage their time better, it doesn't just help them be more productive and efficient while at work. It also means that they will have lower stress and anxiety, feel more in control of their time, and experience increased life satisfaction.

Product Training

Finally, lunch and learn events can absolutely be opportunities when your employees learn more about new products you're offering or other aspects of the business.

While it can be good to mix up the brown bag lunch topics so they expand beyond the inner workings of your company, this can also be an ideal opportunity to share some information with your team that will help them further excel in their role.

How Does a Lunch and Learn Event Work?

A lunch and learn event is essentially a brief seminar or workshop that is held during the lunch hour. During this time, a wide variety of topics can be covered that appeal to the interests of employees.

While you can put on a one-off "lunch and learn," many companies will host a lunch and learn series that becomes a regular part of the company culture. These are typically optional opportunities that individuals can choose whether or not they want to attend.

Free lunch, social opportunities, and an interesting topic can help encourage your team members to attend.

If your team works in-office, these events can occur in a conference room or break room. You can use a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams for remote employees.

To organize a lunch and learn, you want to pick a regular time that they occur, create a calendar of topics, schedule speakers to participate when relevant, and come up with a simple and delicious solution for your catering needs.

When selecting topics for your brown bag lunches, it's best to keep them light. Since these short sessions are an alternative to your employees' regular lunch breaks, you don't want the topics to be too serious, harsh, or heavy. Instead, focus on more engaging and inviting topics that might not be able to take priority during the busy workday.

Tips For Hosting a Successful Lunch and Learn

Make the Lunch and Learn Accessible

Since lunch and learns happen during lunchtime and are voluntary rather than mandatory, you want to make sure they are as accessible as possible. For in-person events, find an on-site location that can fit the number of workers you expect to attend. For remote employees, ensure that the video conferencing platform you're using is accessible and usable by everyone.

You might also choose to record the session so people can watch it after the fact if they miss the live rendition. Another way you can boost attendance is by reminding employees through a calendar link or email notifications the day before and the day of, as it might easily slip the mind of workers during a busy day.

Provide a Catered Meal

One of the best ways you can encourage attendance is to provide a catered meal rather than asking employees to bring their own lunch. Not only does this make the event attractive to your employees, but it also helps to boost employee satisfaction.

Of course, this presents quite a challenge for remote teams. How are you supposed to send lunch to all of your workers that are sprinkled around the country or even the globe?

At PizzaTime, that's our specialty. Whether you want to provide a pizza party or a more traditional catered lunch, we've got you covered.

Incorporate Opportunities for Interaction

Employees are taking their lunch break to attend the event you're putting on, so it can be a good idea to incorporate opportunities for interaction.

This can help make it memorable while also increasing investment and involvement.

Feature Compelling Guest Presenters

You don't always have to bring in guest speakers, but it can be a nice way to shake things up occasionally.

Consider creating a schedule that is a mix of presenters from outside the company, speakers sourced internally, and team members that have expertise on specific topics.

Keep the Conversation Going

The opportunity to learn doesn't need to end when the lunch break is over and employees return to work.

Consider finding ways to keep the conversation going between employees, such as creating a dedicated email thread or chat room where people can post comments or questions about the topic discussed in the last session.

Consider the Time Zone When Your Team Is Remote

Finding the perfect time for a lunch and learn can be tough when your employees are located in different time zones. It's a good idea to find a time that allows the largest number of workers to attend during their day, relatively near their lunchtime.

If your workers are spread out across the globe, you might offer a rotating lunch and learn time so everyone has the opportunity to attend during the lunch break.

Spread the Word

At PizzaTime, we specialize in helping distributed teams across the globe spend valuable time together through the power of virtual events and catered meals.

If you're ready to institute a new lunch and learn tradition with your team, we'd be delighted to make sure your employees are well-fed and ready to learn during your lunch meeting.

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