Now we know: useless meeting attendance cost you an average of US$25,000 per employee every year

We’ve said for some time that having a meeting for having a meeting’s sake is – well – a waste of time!

Now, thanks to an article in Bloomberg, we can actually start to put a $ figure on how much time and money is being wasted in having everyone attend unnecessary meetings – roughly US$25k!!

In what is an interesting write-up of a recently published survey undertaken by by Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational science, psychology and management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, we learn that:-

  • Unnecessary meetings are a US$100 million mistake at big companies
  • Employees spend about 18 hours a week on average in meetings (that’s roughly half a working week in Oz!)
  • Employees only decline 14% of invites, even though they’d prefer to back out of 31% of them
  • Many say yes because it’s a workplace norm: nobody wants to offend the meeting organiser by skipping out, or have co-workers think they’re not engaged
  • The number of weekly meetings we attend has more than doubled since February 2020
  • Reluctantly going to noncritical meetings wastes about US$25,000 per employee annually

Some tips on how to fix this

  • Assign everyone attending your meeting(s) a notional monetary value of $100 per hour and calculate if there is real $ value in holding the meeting
  • If there is a $ value in holding the meeting, make sure you have an agenda and share that with participants prior to the meeting so they can prep ahead of time (should help cut down on the waffle time!)
  • Try and answer questions that are likely to arise in the meeting ahead of the meeting time so there is clarity of purpose in the meeting
  • Focus the meeting – take mobile phones off people or make them switch them off; don’t let attendees read or answer emails during the meeting, etc. Distractions like these delay/postpone/side-track meetings, resulting in blow-outs in the allotted meeting time
  • Allow people who don’t think they will make a meaningful contribution to the meeting to decline the meeting invite without judgement – I cannot tell you how many times I have declined meeting invites only to have the organiser resend me the invite in the mistaken belief I declined in error!

As always, views are my own!


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