I hate meetings, you hate meetings, everyone hates meetings.
In fact, 46% of employed Americans would rather do any number of troublesome activities rather than attend a status meeting, according to a Harris Poll survey. 12% would rather commute four hours one way for work each day. 8% would rather undergo a root canal.
An astonishing 18% would rather go to the DMV.
If nearly a quarter of your employees would prefer to stand in a DMV line rather than attend a meeting, it’s safe to say that engagement is low. But why do we hate meetings with such passion, and how do they hurt productivity?
1. Meetings Kill Employee Engagement and Focus
Imagine you’re working against a fast-approaching deadline for a work project. It’s been a battle just getting the project off the ground, but now you’re in the zone, putting all the necessary pieces together. Your focus is set to laser, and your concentration feels unbreakable.
Until a meeting breaks it.
This is such a common problem that, as Anna Johansson at Business Insider pointed out, many employees just don’t start work on any projects before a meeting to avoid the break in progress. This obviously causes a backup in useful work, especially if the meeting in question isn’t relevant to their projects.
Making progress on an important project, only to leave it for an hour or more to sit in a meeting that might not be productive, can feel pretty demoralizing. If this happens a few times a week or more, and for most American professionals, it does, it’s easy to disconnect from your work over time.
2. Meetings Have Too Many Attendees
Raise your hand if you’ve ever sat in a meeting and thought, “Why am I here? This has no impact on my work in any way.”
If so, you’re far from alone. On average, employees spend two hours each week in meetings that aren’t relevant to what they do or need to know.
The 2019 State of Meetings report from Doodle discovered this boggling average applies to American, British, Swiss, and German workers. Clearly, this is an international problem.
Sometimes, managers include more people than necessary to avoid hurt feelings, make sure everyone is on the same page, or encourage collaboration. However, these motivations just lead to meetings full of bored people who aren’t connected to the topic at hand.
3. Meetings are Ineffective
Even if the topic of a meeting is relevant to all attending, the meeting itself usually fails to benefit anyone. Trivial discussions take over, someone says, “Let’s take this offline,” and by the time the meeting is over, nobody knows more about the topic than they did before the meeting started.
4. Meetings are Expensive
Meetings don’t just cost professionals and companies in time.
In the US alone, irrelevant meetings cost the economy almost $37 billion a year. One Fortune 50 company found that bad meetings cost them $75 million a year.
The more higher-ups in a meeting, the more expensive the meeting becomes. Meetings with executives or managers can cost around $1,000 per hour just in salary costs. That’s money that could go to bonuses, new hires, wellness programs, or at least some new coffee machines.
“All right, all right, I get it,” you might be saying, “most meetings shouldn’t even happen in the first place. But not everything can be communicated through email messages! My team still needs to have meetings every once in a while, so how do I determine what justifies a meeting, and how do I make meetings better?”
Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know next week.