Increase Employee Engagement with a CEO Lunch and Learn

Here’s how CEO lunch with employees can increase employee engagement.

7 min read
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If you’re looking for opportunities where your CEO connects with employees, arrange for a company-wide lunch and learn. Setting up lunches where the CEO, or senior leaders, can break bread with your team members is a win-win for everyone at the table.

Here are a few ways to host a successful lunch and learn with management. 

The benefits of a lunch and learn  with the CEO 

CEOs and other company leaders have a lot on their plates, and face-to-face meetings are a big part of the job. A Harvard Business Review survey of 27 CEOs over a three-month period found that this kind of face time took up 61% of their work hours.  

It’s time well spent: CEOs often use these personal interactions to learn more about what’s going on at the company on a granular level and offer support to people. A CEO lunch with employees is the ideal setting for that.  

Eating a meal with employees can also help CEOs fulfill another important job responsibility. In one survey of 20 business leaders, all respondents said talent management was under their domain, and 70% said they spend anywhere from 20% to 50% of their time on it. Getting to know employees better during these lunches can help leadership identify candidates for potential mentorship or promotions. Further, these lunches can help CEOs and employees align on their goals, so employees are primed for success.

During a CEO meeting with employees, both have the opportunity to ask questions or discuss issues and ideas. That time spent together can have many positive results:

  1. Highly valued employees have better motivation, engagement, and satisfaction when it comes to their jobs, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association.

  2. The same survey also found that these employees feel better about themselves, physically and mentally. 

  3. When employees feel respected by leadership, it enhances their self-esteem, and they, in turn, can be more respectful to their co-workers.

There are big-picture benefits for your company, too. Engaged employees drive high performance and innovation while helping the organization move forward. Team leaders are key to helping drive this. A study by Gallup found that team leaders alone account for 70% of the variance in team engagement.

Plus, regular CEO meetings with employees foster a company culture of openness, respect, and two-way communication where feedback from both sides is listened to and acknowledged. These lunches can also be the origin of the next great idea that moves your company forward.  

Key considerations for your lunch and learn program 

The first thing to do is sit down with your CEO to lay the groundwork for the lunch program. Key points to cover during this session include:

1. The number of people who will attend. 

Will it be a more intimate small group setting, or will it include everyone in a department? Certain factors may influence who receives the lunch and learn invitation, such as the size of the company itself and whether any other C-level executives will host their own lunches.

2. The structure of the lunch. 

Does the CEO want a formal agenda or a relaxed roundtable discussion?

3. Topics the CEO wants to discuss. 

Is there information the CEO wants to gather from his employees, or is input needed on new projects in the pipeline? Find out what your CEO hopes to get out of the program. Depending on their preference, this might take on more of an “ask me anything”, or AMA, style discussion. 

4. The frequency of the lunches. 

Does the CEO want to participate monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly? If the schedule is jam-packed, a coffee with the CEO program can work, too.

How to host a lunch with the CEO 

After talking with your CEO, or other senior leaders who will host lunches, it’s time to plan that first lunch. Things to keep in mind: 

1. Finalize the guest list. 

Decide if you want departments to meet with the CEO or if you want to bring people together from different departments. The latter can help employees get to know colleagues in different areas.

2. Create an open environment. 

Talk with leadership about whether department managers should attend the CEO lunch with employees. If that might inhibit employee openness during the conversation, consider scheduling a managers-only lunch with the CEO at another time.

3. Consider inviting an HR representative

A CEO may want help steering the conversation from an HR rep, who can also assist with any employee concerns or complaints. The rep can also ensure that everyone has the chance to speak.

4. Get feedback from employees. 

Collect questions in advance from the team members attending the luncheon. This way, your CEO or senior executive is briefed on the subjects they want to discuss.

5. Create an agenda, if you’re using one. 

When you invite the employees, include a copy of the agenda or expected talking points. It helps your team members prepare in advance.

6. Clear the calendars.

 Ensure everyone’s schedule is open before and after lunch, so no one is late or has to rush out before the meal is over.

How to place a group order for your CEO session 

In any lunch with the CEO program, the “lunch” part is crucial. You want to line up a great meal for everyone to enjoy. Here are some key ingredients for success:

Don’t go to a restaurant. 

A noisy, public space may prevent free-flowing conversation or make it difficult to hear what people are saying. If the CEO has a lunchroom, use that, or reserve a conference room where attendees have privacy. 

Avoid corporate catering, try a business lunch delivery.

DoorDash for Business Employee Meals makes the process easy, convenient, and offers a wide range of restaurants to choose from for your meal. 

If the lunch is informal, or you have a variety of dietary needs, DoorDash for Business' meal ordering platform enables you to place everyone’s orders and be delivered promptly at whatever time you choose.

How to host a virtual lunch with employees 

If you’re implementing a flexible work model, you can still make your lunches happen. In fact, it may be even more vital for your CEO to connect with employees and strengthen a feeling of belonging among the workforce. To make things easier for everyone, remember:

  1. Send calendar invites: Make sure they go out far enough in advance so everyone can participate.

  2. Get everyone connected: Set up and send the video conference link for your lunch a couple of days ahead of time.

  3. Provide meal options: You want this CEO meeting with the employees to be a special occasion, so don’t have your team members prepare their own lunch. DoorDash for Business' Expensed Meals can be ordered anywhere, anytime, making this a flexible and convenient option. You set everyone’s spending limits and ordering hours, making it simple to ensure they can get lunch that day. 

  4. Provide flexibility: As an alternative, if you’ve given your employees DashPass for Employees memberships, team members can use it to order lunch with reduced service fees and $0 delivery fees. 

Lunch with the CEO programs are popular and effective. Use DoorDash for Business to help you plan programs that bring your company together. Contact us today to get started!


Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest

Freelance B2B Writer