Science

Report finds unnecessary meetings can cost large companies $100 million a year

According to a recent study, large companies can save $100 million a year by holding fewer unnecessary meetings and cutting down on their invite list.

A common refrain among workers polled as part of the report—UNC Charlotte professor and expert on meeting strategy—Steven G. The note, drawn by Roselberg to meet software maker Otter.AI, was that they are drawn into wasting too much time. The Gathering survey found it often leads to boredom and frustration, employees say. that the wasted time interferes with completing their more productive work.

Overall, companies spend total $37 billion Per year on meetings, according to Harvard Business Review, underscore the huge investment in this type of communication. For example, a previous study by Rogelberg published in Small Group Research, a scholarly journal, cited research that found copy-machine maker Xerox spent more than $100 million per year on meetings in its manufacturing and development unit. .

But much of that money appears to have been unfairly spent, their research shows. Roselberg’s survey of 632 workers in 20 industries asked how many meetings they attended in a week and whether respondents felt their attendance was important. Answer? Respondents said that they do not need to attend 30% of the gatherings.

Rosselberg told CBS MoneyWatch, “The most legitimate account of what was needed is a personal report. They are the best moderators on whether they felt their time was really well used and respected or if it was. was ruined.”


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workers said based on how much time they spend in non-essential meetings their salary, the survey estimated that organizations employing 5,000 people waste nearly $100 million annually on unnecessary gatherings. The report said that for a company with 100 employees, eliminating unnecessary meetings would result in financial savings of $2.5 million per year.

To determine potential cost savings for companies, Rosselberg first calculated organizations’ total expenditures on meetings that employees said were worth attending. Over the course of a year, they found that the average large organization spends the equivalent of about $80,000 on meetings per employee, taking into account the pay of individuals and the amount of time they spend in meetings.

Of the 18 hours a week employees spend in meetings, they reported that about six hours were unproductive. That amounts to more than $25,000 in annual “wasted” investments, both in terms of direct monetary costs like salaries and benefits, and indirect costs, such as focusing on actions that boost the bottom line, according to Roselberg.

The research then extrapolated the data to companies of various sizes. For example, an organization of 5,000 employees spends about $320 million annually on meetings. If about a third of those annual hours are unproductive, the company is effectively wasting $101 million per year on meeting time that could be better spent on other activities, the study concludes.

Eliminating unnecessary meetings also reduces employee frustration, which our research shows affects productivity. “So that gets rid of it, and they’ll be able to engage in other work activities and have more opportunity to engage more deeply. Work and go in a flow.”

Other research also drives home that ineffective meetings hurt the performance of businesses. According to the Harvard Business Review, a study of 20 automated supply, electrical, packaging and other companies found that straying from topic and complaining in meetings was associated with lower levels of market share and less innovation. According to research in the MIT Sloan Management Review, nearly 70% of corporate managers reported that meetings were expensive and unproductive.

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Roselberg found in his latest survey that employees in various roles and management levels attend 17.7 meetings an average of 18 hours a week. In contrast, employees said it was important that they attend only 11.8 of those meetings, or about a dozen hours a week.

About half of the workers said they have too many unnecessary meetings on their calendar. Even more, at 53%, said they still feel compelled to attend those meetings.


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Roselberg found that workers who attend an unnecessary meeting report multitasking in 70% of gatherings – it was also common for people to hide or mute their video and audio.

“When you’re having a meeting and some people are multitasking, it has a negative effect. Plus, multitasking is contagious. People start to feel guilty if they’re not multitasking,” he said .

gender discrimination

Female employees were more reluctant to decline meeting invitations than male employees, expressing concern about how they would be perceived by coworkers and may be seen as deprived of their duties. In addition, they didn’t want to burden colleagues with speeding up what they missed.

“There has been an increased tendency for women to turn down meeting invitations. They were more concerned about burdening others, were more sensitive to impressions and were using others’ time,” Rogelberg said.

According to Rogelberg, very few leaders are trained to conduct effective meetings. Many organizations also lack ways of providing feedback for workers.


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“We need to raise the skill level and create a feedback and accountability system,” Rothelberg said.

For example, the agenda of the meeting should be framed as a set of questions to be answered, versus a list of topics for discussion, he said. “Now you’re really wondering why exactly you’re having this meeting. By framing it as a question to answer, you know who to invite. If you don’t think of a question If you can, it means you don’t need a meeting.”

The norms surrounding workplace gatherings also need to change. Meeting holders should consider whether the meeting requires dialogue and whether a worker’s participation is important to the topic and relevant to their role, Rothelberg said.

“They are doing all the litmus tests to have one sitting,” he said. “If you don’t need the conversation, it’s not needed and the problem at hand is of no great relevance, and we can rely on more passive asynchronous communication strategies.”

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