Published September 10, 2021
Brown Bag, Lunch & Learns, or whatever term you want to call it – these sessions are a big help if you want to improve workplace efficiency. Here’s what you need to know about brown bag sessions and whether it’s worth including in your weekly office routine.
What is a Brown Bag Session?
A brown bag session is a type of informal meeting that allows employees to learn and also work out solutions to common workplace problems. In essence, it combines a team meeting with an internal training session. But unlike formal meetings, a brown bag meeting is usually just held inside the office and is not catered. Instead, employees are expected to bring their own lunch. Because of this, brown bag sessions are also regarded as a cost-efficient way of providing training to employees.
The term “brown bag” came into use because of the practice of employees bringing their lunch food packed in a brown bag. Obviously, there were no plastic food containers yet back in the day when these types of sessions started. Hence, employees would come to the meeting bringing brown paper bags. And that’s how the term was coined.
Brown bag meetings usually happen during lunchtime. That’s why some people also call it Lunch & Learn sessions. But these informal meetings can be done anytime during the day.
Types of Brown Bag Sessions
Since it’s an informal affair, brown bag sessions come in many different formats depending on the company culture and the purpose of the meeting. But the four most common ones are:
- Small group meeting. This is typically attended by employees from within the department. To facilitate discussion, each participant is allowed to answer a question and comment on other participants’ answers. This allows employees to share their knowledge with the team and also learn from other members of the team.
- Seminar meeting. This is a type of brown bag session where a speaker or trainer is invited to discuss a certain topic. This usually includes a short question and answer portion at the end of the session.
- Combination meeting. As the name suggests, this is a hybrid session that combines both a small group meeting and a seminar meeting. In this format, a speaker or trainer is invited but the participants can also answer questions and share their knowledge with the group.
- Social meeting. This is a meeting format that allows the participants to get to know each other in a relaxed setting. This is especially useful if you’re trying to build rapport and teamwork between different departments.
How Brown Bag Meetings Can Improve Workplace Efficiency
Brown bag lunch meetings are very beneficial to an organization. But its most significant contribution is making the employees (and the workplace) more efficient.
Here are various ways a brown bag session can improve workplace efficiency:
1. It Improves Employee Engagement
As mentioned, brown bag sessions allow your employees to learn, and learning is key to keep people engaged at work.
If a person stops learning, he/she will find work a daily routine, and that person’s knowledge will stop growing. Once the chain of learning stops, that’s when boredom gradually appears.
You might find your people getting tired and exhausted at work even if the week has only started. When this happens, the employees will not be productive anymore. Worse, they cannot do their jobs correctly, which eventually can drag the company down. That’s because engagement has already diminished.
Brown bag sessions let you discuss some new things with your employees. When they gain knowledge in your weekly brown bag sessions, you will start noticing the positive changes from your employees.
2. It Provides Better Communication
Whether in a relationship or business, communication is always the key to success. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in most workplaces.
In most places, employees have no proper venue to air out their concerns. As a result, many issues aren’t addressed soon enough that they snowball into major ones and end up affecting your employees’ performance.
Through brown bag meetings, your employees can raise problems that occur in the workplace. And you and your employees can work together to come up with a solution. You can also clear expectations and responsibilities to your employees. In the end, this will reward you with an engaged and more productive workforce.
3. It Promotes Collaboration And Teamwork
A brown bag session not only allows your employees to learn but also allows them to work in a team.
Just think of this as a mini-workshop or a team-building conference you usually attend once a year. You can give group tasks that they can work on together and thus share ideas with each other.
Nothing beats a workplace that has employees who are getting on well together.
4. It Improves The Skills of Your Employees
Learning is a never-ending process. And as mentioned, an employee who isn’t learning something new will eventually end up unproductive.
This is where brown bag meetings come in. It not only improves your workforce’s skills but also encourages them to continually seek new knowledge and improve themselves. In short, it promotes a learning culture.
By hiring trainers and letting employees learn from each other, you ensure that all your employees are not only gaining new skills but are also improving existing ones.
5. No Employees Will Be Left Out
One problem that some employees usually face, especially the old ones, is they feel that they are being left out. The most common reason for this is the ever-changing technological systems used in the workplace.
Many older workers typically have a hard time going out of their comfort zone and find new technologies challenging. They may try to learn it at first but they usually end up going back to their “usual” way of doing things.
During brown bag meetings, they can raise problems like this. With this, other members of the team will be able to help them familiarize themselves with technology-related issues.
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