I consider myself a foodie. I like trying new foods and reading about food trends. I enjoy watching the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I have more recipes posted on Pinterest than… well, you get the point.
I also think it’s totally cool for employees to share their food memories at work. In fact, I learned all about ceviche from a co-worker. Food can bring people together. We just have to remember there’s a right time and place.
As much as I enjoy the culinary arts, I draw the line when it comes to food being used in training. Years ago, I was taught to include food as a “fun” element in training. The suggestion was to put confetti and candy on tables. The room will look fun. Participants will love it.
Then, I attended a presentation about workplace diversity. The speaker used jellybeans as a way to demonstrate a concept. Some people thought it was a fabulous analogy. The different color jellybeans help visualize different skin tones.
Two people at my table were visibly annoyed with the speaker. I didn’t know why at the time.
Later I found out that one of the people at the table had a color vision deficiency. The second person had diabetes. So here we are at a session talking about respecting people and there was this huge disconnect. I have no idea if the trainer was ever informed that this happened during the session. But I walked away learning a lot about diversity. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the point the trainer was trying to make.
It also made me wonder what participants thought of the candy my employees put out during training sessions.
So at the next workshop, I stopped. The facilities people were thrilled that the confetti was gone. They couldn’t stand vacuuming all those little pieces of paper off the floor. And one of the participants told me that he appreciated not staring at candy all day because he was a diabetic.
A lesson for trainers everywhere: do your audience analysis. Know who will be attending your training and make the event about them. Not about you.1