The Benefits of Conducting Lunch Meetings
Christine McDade is an experienced human resources professional.
A working lunch can provide employees a break.
From time to time, I find that meeting a co worker to have a working lunch can not only be an enjoyable outing, but a productive means for completing work. Since employees spend so much of their work day sitting in an office or conference room with co workers, it is easy to understand how getting away for a change of routine in the middle of the day would provide a productive outlet. An otherwise mundane opportunity to meet could become an inspiring occasion to be creative and solve workplace issues. A lunch meeting is also a good way to meet with vendors and customers in a social setting to speak about business. These meetings provide a more relaxed setting to handle tough discussions about issues with services and products. Whether the meeting takes place in a restaurant or in the office with lunch catered in for attendees, the working lunch provides a good deviation from the workday norm.
Who would you meet for a lunch meeting?
If the work day is loaded down with meeting after meeting, it may be necessary to work through lunch to get some important work completed. While the thought of working through your lunch hour might not be an attractive idea, it might just be the best time to meet up with coworkers or clients that were already scheduled for a meeting. By scheduling one of them to attend a lunch meeting, one could accomplish both the work at hand and benefit from a little break from the stress of the work day.
Meeting with Subordinates - For managers who want to hold a special meeting with subordinates, having a lunch meeting might just be the right touch for lightening the mood and offering a more relaxed environment to brainstorm, hold difficult discussions or reward employees deserving special recognition. Employees who are feeling more at ease will likely be more cooperative in their offering up of ideas and solutions because of a more positive attitude they are experiencing. In addition, most employees will appreciate a lunch meeting from time to time as a way to break up the monotony of a routine or structured work day.
Meeting with the Boss - Having a lunch meeting with the boss just might be the opportunity one needs to discuss a difficult subject. The relaxed atmosphere of a restaurant, for example, might set a positive tone for the meeting. If the matter at hand is of a serious nature, the mood might benefit from a friendly lunch meeting location.
Meeting with Outside Vendors and Clients - For a change of pace, it is nice to meet clients at a restaurant to conduct business. Clients, who are just as busy as everyone else, will appreciate the offer to meet for a lunch meeting.
Where would you have the lunch meeting?
Choosing an appropriate location to hold the meeting is an important step in conducting the lunch meeting. If the manager chooses to hold the meeting on site, some options to consider would be:
- Select a large enough room that allows for elbow room, and ensures some comfort to those in attendance. Being distracted because there is no room for the appropriate number of chairs will not be productive for the meeting's overall purpose.
- Select a private location where one can speak openly during the meeting. Confidential discussions can only take place if consideration is given to hold the meeting in a quiet, private place.
- Select a table where one can conduct business with room for paperwork, IPad, laptop, etc. Since the working lunch is still "work", consideration must be given for room on a table to write, type, etc.
If the manager chooses to hold the meeting off site, some options to consider would be:
- Select a restaurant which is located centrally and conveniently for all who must attend. Requiring an attendee to travel far for the meeting should only be done if there is a special occasion and all who must attend are in agreement. When asking a vendor or client, convenience of location should certainly be a consideration.
- Select a restaurant which allows for a quiet and somewhat private area where work can be done.
- Since the likelihood is good that alcohol will be sold at the restaurant where the meeting will take place, be sure to pick a table away from the bar where the possibility exists that other restaurant customers are going to be there having a good time. Such distractions will impede the progress of the work.
Know the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Overtime Pay - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor: The Wage and Hour mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce.
Managers who choose to hold working lunches must be aware of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) which governs how specific classifications of jobs are compensated. For example, hourly employees who sit at their desks while they eat lunch must be sure to perform no work tasks while they sit there for that period of time. If they answer the phone, work on the computer, or perform other tasks, they must be compensated for it. The same is true for the lunch meeting. If their attendance is required because business is being conducted, they must be paid for the time they spend at the lunch meeting.
The bottom line for having lunch meetings is to just enjoy the opportunity to get out of the normal work routine. Whether it is a lunch meeting that takes place in a conference room or at a local delicatessen, employees can get a lot of work accomplished in these relaxed meetings when care is given about where and when they take place. Working relationships can be enhanced during these occasions. Making the most of the work day sometimes requires a longer day or working through lunch to meet an important deadline. A productive outcome is a likely result when lunch meetings are held for the benefit of the participants.