Brown Bag Lunches: Topics for Sharing and Fun

Why Employers Might Want to Offer Brown Bag Lunches

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Brown bag lunches or lunch and learns provide an opportunity to develop employees' knowledge and pique their interest about opportunities to learn. They are an opportunity for employees to gather at lunch time to share information about topics of interest. They are a fun, motivating approach to sharing information.

The original concept of brown bag lunches referred to the brown paper sacks that employees might pack for their lunch at work.

Of course, brown bag lunches are rare these days as technology has far outstripped the traditional bag.

And, employees can dash to grab fast food in minutes before the lunch, so times have changed. But, the brown bag lunches haven't changed. Employees share knowledge. They might also provide an opportunity for an outside presenter to bring knowledge that employees want to learn into the company.

Brown bag lunches are also a way to demonstrate the company's commitment to providing a healthy, value-based, motivational work environment.

Here's more about why you might want to offer brown bag lunches or lunch and learns.

Brown bag lunches are developed to:

  • enhance employee learning about topics that are ancillary to work topics but you do help them to keep on learning,
  • develop employee knowledge about life skills, the world, in general, and other topics of interest,
  • provide an informal reason for employees to gather to enhance teamwork and company values,
  • raise employees' level of engagement and motivation at work by providing onsite education, and
  • recognize that any continuous learning experience enhances an employee's knowledge and ability to contribute to the successful serving of your customers—your fundamental reason for existing.

Topic Ideas for Brown Bag Lunches

The goal of brown bag lunches, or lunch and learns, as the meeting is sometimes called, is to enhance the skills, knowledge, thinking, and learning abilities of employees.

They are provided in a relaxing, informal environment that employees appreciate for learning about something new and interesting.

But, even more importantly, brown bag lunches are an opportunity to build teamwork and a positive work culture or environment for employees.

Thus, topics for brown bag lunches are as far ranging as the creativity and imagination of your employees. Brown bag lunches are presented by your internal employees or by external resources, as needed. They can include something as simple as an employee sharing slides and videos of his trip to Australia or hiking the Grand Canyon.

Employees may want to hear about opportunities for volunteering in their community that the community relations committee has pulled together for them. These may include brief presentations by people who work in the volunteer organization.

They may also contain training in an employee's favorite hobby like the secret to great beer making or how to make candles and soaps. One company teaches employees how to pick locks.

They can allow employees who have attended a conference or training the chance to share the highlights for other employees who did not attend. This can include lean operations, six sigma, a new approach to marketing, and how to delight customers.

They can help raise employee awareness in the functions of the company's product and/or service. All of these ideas client companies have implemented.

Specific Suggested Topics

These are topic ideas for brown bag lunches.

  • Options for 401(k) investments
  • How to take advantage of the employer's benefits company advice/counseling
  • Slide show from an employee's trip to India
  • How to play poker
  • How to talk so people listen
  • Techniques of speed reading
  • Time management tips
  • How to accelerate baby's learning
  • Fun places to visit in the local community
  • How to adapt a regular recipe for a slow cooker version
  • Productivity apps for various browsers, smartphones, or the Apple iPad
  • How to select hardware for streaming movies and videos
  • Considerations in writing a will and estate planning
  • Tips for baking great bread
  • Community childcare options
  • What to pack in holiday gift baskets for needy members of the community
  • Stress management tips
  • Mastering email overload in an organized, helpful fashion
  • Tips about getting the most out of Microsoft Windows and Word
  • The operations, functions, and contributions of any department in the company

Use your company activity, culture, wellness, or employee morale committee to schedule brown bag lunches as an opportunity to show employees that you care about them, the quality of their lives, and their ongoing learning for the success of your customers. Plus? Do them because they're fun.