“What smells so good in the break room?”

If we can riff off an old expression, sometimes the way to your employees’ hearts is through their stomachs. At least, that’s been observed in our office. You see, we have found real team-building and workplace-enhancing benefits from the simple activity of holding informal, friendly potluck lunches.

It all started about 5 years ago, when we were a much smaller group. Whenever a team member’s birthday came around, it was a great excuse to schedule a lunchtime get-together in the break room. Everyone brought in a dish to share. Busy or culinarily-challenged folks contributed store-bought beverages to the meal. We’d enjoy lunch and catch up with each other. Laughs, stories and recipes were exchanged, and we all got a welcomed mid-day break from business as usual.

As the company grew, this birthday ritual became trickier to pull off in a timely manner, and eventually the potluck lunches slowly faded away. All that was left were pleasant memories of those potluck days.

Then, thanks to a great idea from Dana Huber, PHR, SHRM-CP, one of our HR mangers and our resident lunchtime genius, these gatherings were reincarnated. She wisely saw that the camaraderie and good cheer these gathering brought to our team were worth a few tweaks to the tradition in order to streamline and modernize it.

“To keep the fun and creative side of the gatherings, but minimize the planning and scheduling, we made these potluck lunches into a kind of myHR Partner®’s version of ‘Celebrity Chef’,” says Dana. Anyone who wants to can take a turn at making the main dish for a lunch, and others can bring in sides or drinks if they want to. These events happen about once a month, and are always a great time.

Not to worry about employee birthdays, though. These days, we bring in cake for a nice treat on those occasions. We just also have our potluck lunches to look forward to as well.

EDITORS NOTE: Currently myHR Partner Celebrity Chef is on summer hiatus. We’ll be back at it this fall, with all our summer vacation pictures and recipes ready to share.