Lunch Roulette – Get to know your colleagues better
Lunch Roulette – A Mystery Lunch
Lunch Roulette sounds intriguing, right?
It’s a simple way to strengthen social connections between colleagues.
Employees sign up to go for lunch with a random coworker they normally don’t have lunch with.
What are the benefits of organizing a lunch roulette?
A chance to get to know new colleagues, discover things that normally wouldn’t come up in the day-to-day, and have some fun!
A simple, hands-on, way to strengthen social connections between colleagues
Swedish company Kungsleden has consistently been awarded ‘Great place to work’ year after year.
But it wasn’t always like that.
When Cecilia Gannedahl, the HR & Communications Director, took on the challenge to improve their workplace the company was struggling with employee engagement.
In fact, their numbers were below average.
Fast forward 3 years later the company was named “Great place to work”.
How did they do it?
Cecilia is a big believer in building strong corporate cultures, hands-on.
And having fun while you’re at it!
One of their most successful first actions was “The Lunch Roulette”, an initiative that was actually suggested by one of their employees.
As simple as it may seem, good workplaces require a strong social fabric.
How well do you know your teammates?
Help your colleagues break the ice by organizing a Lunch Roulette!
How does Lunch Roulette work?
Ideally, the company sponsors the cost for the lunch (we’ll explain why further down).
Afterward, employees briefly share their experience with the rest.
1. Employees volunteer to go for lunch with a random coworker.
2. The company pays for lunch.
3. Use your Team Board to visualize who is lunching with who.
4. Afterwards, employees share their experiences with the rest of their colleagues and team.
Use daily huddles for people to quickly mention something they learned about the other.
“Hey, I didn’t know Jack plays in a cover band!”.
Use post-it notes and hang them next to the photo of the coworker.
The Lunch Roulette works wonders to:
- Improve the social fabric at work
- Improve trust and communication channels. Particularly when there are workplace tensions or changes.
- Break silo mentalities
- Discover local restaurants when moving site location
- Help new employees feel welcome and settle faster
- Encourage knowledge sharing between departments and areas of expertise
- Could lead to mentoring opportunities
Lunch Roulette Start Kit
Here’s everything you need to know to successfully launch in 15 minutes:
- How-To checklist
- Hints & tips of what worked for other companies
- Invitation messages
- Ice-breaking questions, follow-up material…
What happens when you mix people that normally don’t have lunch together?
Get to know another side of your colleagues over lunch!
Let’s dive in and plan:
Step 1: Decide on Budget
We strongly recommend the company/department pays for the lunch so your people feel included.
Not everyone has the budget to eat out, or they might resent having to spend their own money and time on something work-related.
These might be the people you most want to join your activity.
You’ll also get more people to participate if it includes a free meal. Lunch on-site works too, but it’s nice to get out of your normal settings.
Away from prying eyes
One way to keep the cost down is to limit the number of people that can go.
Although this limits the effect as fewer people will join the activity, you can always repeat the Lunch Roulette if it’s a success.
Keeping the numbers down, it’s also easier to show a “win” if you’re in a situation where you need good news.
‘We have so many people interested that we have 140% overbooking!’
How will you reimburse people?
Who will handle it? Will they get the money before or after the lunch?
You could also use food vouchers.
Or if you only have one local diner or a new restaurant that just opened up: cut a deal with them
Step 2. Prepare the Timing
Pick a short time period to create hype, build momentum and avoid your activity to dra-aag out.
You can always repeat the mystery lunch, right?
Day 1. Monday: Announce at daily huddles, on team boards, and other channels
Day 3. Wednesday: Reminder
Day 5. Friday: Last reminder & the draw to find the winners!
Day 8. Monday: Colleagues have 10 days to go for lunch. The lunch offer expires after this.
Day 16. Send reminder
Day 18. Last day! And last day to ask for lunch reimbursement.
- Keep in mind bank holidays, travels, upcoming deadlines, etc. when planning.
- If you’re measuring your employee mood in real-time, the Day Analysis section will give feedback on how your employees reacted to your announcement, and during the execution.
- You might want to: Give coworkers an extra 30 minutes off to enjoy the lunch break without stress.
Step 3. Prepare the invitation
Get inspiration from our templates:
Subject: Join our Lunch Roulette
As simple as it may seem, we believe that when you know the people you work with it’s easier to create a good workplace.
We’d like to challenge you all to join our LUNCH ROULETTE!
It’s voluntary (of course!) but we hope you’ll find it fun.
The idea is to give randomly chosen colleagues a chance to get to know each other better by having lunch in pairs.
Lunch is on us! All we ask is that you quickly share your experience afterward.
It could be a quick post-it note, at the daily huddle or using our intranet to share something:
who you went with, what you ate, if you learned anything new….
Let us know before this Friday if you’re interested!
We hope you’ll join, we’re starting next week.
Reminder to join our Lunch Roulette
Our Lunch Roulette is happening next week.
The draw is on Friday at 15h in the reception.
Join us to find out who’s having lunch with who next week.
The name lists will be posted on the team boards. See you there!
- You might want to: Ask your marketing department for a fun banner. Design ideas here.
Step 4. Match employees to go for lunch
Write the employee names on post-it notes, fold them, and put them into a box. Then randomly match “Lunch buddies”.
You could do this openly in the reception area or canteen and invite your colleagues to join during breaks.
If you think this part might be an ‘issue’ you can also use a web-based matching service, or a lunch roulette wheel.
Write the winners’ names on a big board and on team boards.
People love seeing who’s eating with who!
Ask employees to contact their Lunch Buddy.
Get them to reach out to decide on when and where to go for lunch.
Clarify how the reimbursement works, alcohol policy, etc.
Optional Ice-breaking questions.
Hand out if needed:
1. Who was the first person you ever spoke to in our company?
2. Share a fun thing that happened at work.
3. What’s in the trunk of your car today? (Hopefully nothing incriminating hehe). Or if it works in your company culture, go for more work-related
questions like recent strategies or activities or “If you were the CEO for a day, what’s the 1 thing you would change in our company?”.
Then pray you don’t get paired to lunch with your CEO
Be open about it before if you don’t plan on a totally open roulette, i.e. mix pairs based on time spent in the company, age, link departments, etc.
“Controlling” your Lunch Roulette could backfire if people feel there are ulterior motives.
Not everyone might be up for it if it takes away the fun.
Keep in mind that the idea is “just” having lunch and hopefully, building trust.
You might have more employees signing up from one department than others.
If this works in your area, their Wheel of Lunch is pretty fun.
Got tech resources?
- You might want to: Take pictures of the draw for employer branding purposes.
Step 5. Feedback mechanism
Get your team to share their experience.
This amplifies the activity and helps to improve basic communication in your workplace. Keep it simple!
It’s enough with a simple post-it note on a team board where Jeff says he had an onion burger with Jess while discovering that they both drive a vintage Volvo.
If people want to say more, they will.
Print a local map where people can mark the restaurant they went to with pins (‘We ate weird cactus ice cream here!’)
If you have a (well)-working intranet, coworkers could use it to write a note about the food, the experience, or what they learned.
They could use Google maps to show where they ate. Or just post a picture.
Colleagues can then leave a comment if they want.
Quantify the impact on employee morale. Those who have the Celpax device installed can see the daily impact on the mood at work.
Say thanks on the last day. You can take a selection of photos, funny reviews, or whatever’s worth sharing, and hang it in a prominent place.
Involve your leaders. Get line managers to talk with their teams. Worth repeating? Or what’s next?
Employer branding. Get marketing to write a blog post for your web? Great material for employer branding.
- You might want to: Hang a fun example post-it note to set the tone.
- Keep it simple. You can always polish and repeat.
- Not a dime to spend? Some companies organize coffee chats or brown-bag lunches instead of eating out. You might not get as many to join, but hey, if it gets people mingling and connecting – go for it.
- Plan B: A quick coffee between breaks or shifts works too. Throw in a donut?
- Use themes. I.e. healthy lunches, vegetarian meals, etc.
- Should managers go? Discuss what works best for you. You can always change strategies later.
- Have FUN!
A lunch packed with good intentions
Measure the impact of your Mystery Lunch
Curious to see if random lunches would improve your workplace culture?
If you’re continuously measuring your employee engagement levels through devices like the Celpax, you can check the impact.
With daily data, you can automatically see how your employees react as you launch and execute your lunch roulette.
Are the mystery lunches having a positive effect on people’s moods?
Getting data to quantify the impact helps you build a stronger case to invest more in employee wellbeing and engagement activities at work.
Measure the mood!
What’s the impact of your leadership actions?
Hej! I’m Rebecca, cofounder at Celpax. We manufacture simple tech tools to improve workplaces. And build a better society while at it. Let’s talk more ideas for Lunch Roulette on Linkedin?