Internal communication specialists and HR professionals are given a difficult task – to communicate news to employees in such a way that it is noticed. Internal communication always has to compete with letters from managers and colleagues, phone calls, not to mention deadlines and simple routine tasks. That is why we need to come up with innovative ways to reach employees. One of these: sharing news and experiences during lunch time.
We all agree that employees, who are well informed about their company’s culture, working principles and the tasks carried out by their colleagues, can more easily envision how to progress on their own career path. Rūta Mikalauskienė, Training and Quality Manager at Transcom Lithuania, says that employees these days are increasingly interested in carrier opportunities. But small bits of information are simply not sufficient for them anymore. People want to hear what their colleagues in different positions are doing. And more important is that they want to hear the first-hand. It helps employees to understand what kind of functions they would be able to carry out in their organization in future. Most employees will prefer climbing the career ladder whilst remaining loyal to their company as it is simpler for them to seek an internal position by making a career switch than changing employer. Both sides – employee and organization – win.
A couple of years ago Human Resources team in Lithuania noticed that simple communication regarding internal career opportunities is not enough for employees. That’s why “Lunch & Learn” initiative was started.
Every second month up to 20 employees gather during lunch and speak to the managers from different functional departments. Each time one manager tells more about his/her department, daily tasks, challenges, skills required for position, etc. Friday lunches with managers are carried as open discussion. Employees usually have a lot of questions to ask and they actively participate in it. Every time discussion is different and the subject is determined by the participating employees. Sometimes employees are mostly interested in manager’s workday, how he/she copes with stressful situations and how he/she acts on those days when all plans collapse due to unforeseen circumstances. In other cases they are interested in the path that led managers to their position. Furthermore employees often submit valuable offers on how to make processes more effective, avoid possible obstacles and encourage the inter-communication between different departments. There are times when two hours for the meeting are simply not enough – the discussions then continue even after lunch has finished.
These “Lunch & Learn” gatherings have now become so popular that great effort has to be made in order to be able to welcome all the people who want to attend. Initiative received support of employees because it gave them a possibility to directly interact with people who work in areas unfamiliar to them and can share personal stories.
It is apparent that next to ordinary channels of internal communication – intranet, company’s social media accounts or career pages – non-traditional means of communication must take place.