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CareersBrown bag lunches in the workplace are a standard practice abroad and are now gaining traction in Pakistan. They are organised by HR departments during lunch hour, and attended by employees from various departments who bring their own lunch to these meetings.

The purpose of these lunches is to discuss topics related to employees’ personal development, and encourage teambuilding and networking. They also convey the management’s commitment to the professional development and growth of its employees through knowledge sharing and teamwork.

Here are five tips to ensure a successful brown bag lunch:

Select an interesting topic. Topics can be finalised before the meeting begins, or attendees should be given four to five options at the beginning of the meeting, so they can choose the one they are most interested in. Popular topics include: ‘how to deal with procrastination’, ‘conflict management’, ‘personal branding’ and ‘how to increase your productivity’.

Begin with a short introduction. Since people from various departments usually attend these meetings, ask everyone to introduce themselves at the beginning of the session. This will help employees get to know each other.

Be casual. Keep the meetings informal and fun. Welcome everyone who joins and ensure that you cover all topics on the agenda.

Explain the purpose. Take a few minutes to describe the philosophy behind holding a brown bag lunch and the reasons why it is being conducted. It is important to do this every time, because each session will have a new set of attendees and it is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Give everyone a chance to speak their mind. During the session, encourage attendees to speak and put forward their queries, concerns and opinions. As specific questions are addressed, other people can join in the discussion and this continues until all attendees have spoken. Give them all an equal chance to share their thoughts; moderators should listen attentively and provide constructive feedback.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmai

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 8, 2013.