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Lunch & learns

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Here’s a painless way to boost in-house training, from Kim Thompson, executive assistant at Harris Williams & Co. in Richmond, Va.:

“The administrative staff get together once a month,” says Thompson, “and one of us will give a presentation on something that has been useful to us, or that we have expertise in, over a lunch that the company brings in for us.”

Example: One program dealt with jargon used around the office that newbies might not understand. Another month, the program tackled Excel shortcuts.

“We all sat around with our laptops and everybody got a chance to share their knowledge,” Thompson says.

Added benefit: “It also fosters work relationships.” It can grow competitive in the workplace, Thompson says, “but not here. We really have an atmosphere of sharing rather than competition.”


We tried doing a similar thing at our corporation, but Human Resources informed us that if the topic/presentation had anything to do with business, even if it was educational, staff had to be paid for the time. It discouraged some managers/directors from allowing their support staff to attend. If the staff is exempt, it is not an issue, but we were attempting to include our administrative staff (non-exempt) into the learning opportunity.

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