The Hidden Cost of Bad Meetings

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Next time you’re in a meeting, try to calculate the cost. A one-hour meeting between 10 employees earning an average of $30/hour adds up to $300 in salaries alone. Inviting one or two managers quickly escalates the cost. Meetings between several managers or executives may cost upward of $1,000 in salary (TED). This doesn’t even take into account the time spent preparing for the meeting!

Meetings are an expensive tool, but because people don’t directly see the cost, they are often treated as a free resource.

This wouldn’t be a big issue if the time spent in meetings was always productive. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that at least half of meeting time is completely wasted. Ninety-one percent of employees admit to daydreaming during meetings, 73% have done other work, and 39% have managed to fall asleep (Atlassian).

Atlassian estimates the cost of unnecessary meetings for U.S. businesses at around $37 billion. That is a lot of billions wasted in daydreaming, doodling, and even napping.

And this is only the financial impact of poor meeting strategies.

HBR estimates that many employees only have 20% of their time allotted to their work—the rest is taken up by phone calls, emails, and meetings. According to the National Statistics Council, meetings alone take up 37% of employees’ time. For the average employee, this is close to two out of five work days in meetings.

With such an abbreviated period of time devoted to their own work, employees might face overload. Work overload happens when employees feel they don’t have enough hours in the day to complete their tasks, and the stress of this time crunch can actually decrease productivity by 68% (Cornerstone). This means that employees not only have fewer hours to complete their work, they’re also less productive during the time they do have.

This time strangle can greatly lower employee engagement. When long, drawn out meetings leave employees scrambling to complete their daily tasks, the added stress can cause animosity and resentment. This is particularly true if they feel that the time spent in meetings was wasted or poorly managed.

What’s a company to do? Learn more about how you can transform your meetings to be more productive and valuable use of every employee’s time in our new eBook – Meetings with Meaningful Dialogue.