November 5, 2023

Is your meeting-driven culture secretly killing your productivity?

Research by Otter.ai & Dr. Rogelberg reveals excessive meetings negatively affect employee well-being and work quality. An average of 18 weekly meeting hours, with many being avoidable, leads to disengagement and financial losses, urging a reevaluation of meeting culture and practices.

It's not uncommon for individuals to experience frustration when attending a seemingly never-ending meeting, but how much of an impact do these meetings actually have? Research by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg indicates that they can have a significant effect on employee well-being, work quality, performance and health. While this may be widely recognized, it's important to understand the magnitude of these effects.

Take a look at the astonishing numbers that were revealed by the survey:

by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg

People tend to spend an average of 18 hours (it gets worse if you're a manager) in meetings every week, where almost a third of them could have been easily skipped.

by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg

But regardless of the amount of avoidable meetings, the majority tend to accept them as they feel bad about declining them.

by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg

What is the reason behind employees' hesitancy to decline or skip attending meetings?

Typically, if employees don't have a parallel appointment, they do feel extremely uncomfortable turning down specific meetings. Around 47% are afraid of upsetting or offending the organizer. Others say that they don't want their co-workers to think that they're not engaged or committed. And this feeling gets worse if they need to approach their colleagues at a later point for help or support.

Which has a very logical consequence: people accept it, attend it, don't pay attention and multitask!

by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg

This leads to annoyed, frustrated, demotivated and bored employees ๐Ÿ˜ž

Unnecessary meetings also have a considerable financial cost. According to estimates from Rogelberg, companies waste approximately $25,000 per employee each year on half-hearted meeting attendance. A firm with 100 workers could save almost $2.5 million per year by reducing unnecessary meetings, while a company with 5,000 employees could save over $100 million annually.

Besides financial impacts, properly managing your calendar can bring other benefits that are directly related to employee's performance, as you can see below:

by Otter.ai & Dr. Steven Rogelberg

My Key takeaways

It's clear that companies / leaders must optimize the number of meetings and ways of working, but I want to raise the fact that employees must speak up and challenge the organizer when they feel that a meeting isn't necessary for them instead of accepting it and multitasking ๐Ÿคจ

So, if you plan a meeting, please consider the following points:

  • It's important to include a clear description of the meeting's purpose and objectives when sending out invitations. This helps attendees to prepare and understand what they are expected to contribute, and it also ensures that only those who need to be present will attend.
  • Carefully consider who is invited to the meeting. Only including those who have a direct stake in the issues being discussed can help to keep the meeting focused and efficient, while also ensuring that participants don't feel their time is being wasted by irrelevant topics.
  • Keep meetings focused and to-the-point. This means setting an agenda ahead of time and sticking to it during the meeting. This keeps the discussion productive and can help to avoid off-topics .

โ€ผ๏ธ But it's not over yet: Effective meetings should always result in clear outcomes, hence I suggest a follow-up email with presentation files and, most important, notes with facts about the meeting, like decisions made, dates and deadlines established, action items with assigned owners, etc.

This will definitely strengthen the topic and support those who could not make it, keeping everyone in the loop.

What's your opinion on this? Is it a topic for you? Any other suggestion on how to improve this situation?

Thank you so much for reading until here and I wish you a lovely day! :)

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