Overview – Brown bag lunches

Brown bag lunches are informal lunch-time meetings held regularly (usually monthly) that are attended by a broad-spectrum group of employees and facilitated by at least one executive team member.

The purpose of these lunches can include: Engendering multi-level, cross-organisational, cross-functional connections to identify and address roadblocks and/or performance gaps in cross-enterprise systems. Building relationships and rapport hierarchically and across disparate departments or units. Fostering greater awareness of other employees’ roles and issues in delivering services/products to customers (both internal or external customers). Sharing best-practice ideas.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:


Fostering interaction between various levels of management and employee groups that would typically never meet.
Exchanging candid views on organisational issues.
Keeping executives abreast of employees’ issues and concerns.
Getting a pulse check on employee morale.
Recognising and rewarding high-caliber employees.

cloudyThings to consider:


Determine the desired outcome: are brown bag lunches for information gathering, problem-solving, relationship building, knowledge sharing, networking, reward and recognition, all the above, or something else?
The desired outcome will inform subsequent decisions such as frequency of the lunches, venue, selection of participants, format and follow-up actions.
Ensure that every lunch is hosted and facilitated by at least one senior leader. Rotate this responsibility across the leadership team.
Cap the number of people at 12. More than 12 participants makes it hard for everyone to make an active contribution to the discussion.
Promote regularly through the organisation’s magazine, intranet, etc., highlighting some of the benefits and positive outcomes.
Encourage the establishment of brown bag lunches by groups who could benefit from them, such as communities of practice.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:


Record the key issues discussed during the brown bag lunches. Circulate these to the executive, senior management team, internal communication or HR teams. This raises their awareness about the issues being discussed with a view to identifying actions required to remove roadblocks or improve employee understanding.
Category: Face to Face