• Valerie Groce

Cost vs. benefit of meetings


Who can raise their hand if they’ve been in a meeting and wondered why they were there?

Meetings are often a necessary evil when it comes to the corporate world. The value of those meetings is also relevant to the value of information being shared. Many times, bringing together a huge group of people packed into a conference room is to the benefit of only a few, or even one, saving them the time to say the same thing several times. From the meeting leader’s perspective, they might think “Wow, this saved me a lot of time!” The rest of the room may have needed one portion of the information shared, yet they stayed through the entire 90 minute meeting to gain that piece of information or make a small contribution.

According to Atlassian, here is what is really happening at these meetings:


Measured costs


ITE Consulting depends on measurements as a way of demonstrating value and improvement. There is a measureable cost associated with meetings like anything else, and it is often not even thought about. With the knowledge of what really occurs, how much value is really in these meetings? Another thing to ask is what is the cost of these meetings?


Let’s explore that for a minute and turn these soft costs into hard dollars.


Let’s take a company with 100 employees making an average salary of $60,000 per year, which equates to $31.25 per hour.


These employees attend an average of 60 meetings each month (60 x $31.25), which costs the company $1,875.00 for each employee.


Multiply that $1,875 by the 100 total employees and companies are spending $187,500 each month on meetings alone, or an annual total (x12) of $2,250,000. Is that money well spent?


But wait – there is more!


Consider this next: About a third of that time spent in meetings is deemed unproductive, so that is a cost of $626.25 ($1,875 x 33.4%) spent on non-productive time, or $62,625 for the entire employee population each month.


That comes to $751,500 per year as the cost for employees to attend pointless meetings.


That’s a big pill of waste to swallow.


Click here to access the meeting cost calendar by entering a different salary amount: https://www.calculators.org/business/meeting-costs.php

Identify and eliminate waste


Forbes tells us that there are four key traits that make a meeting stupid (yes, they said just that):

  • Ineffective communication: a lot of info sharing and point proving with very little requests and promises.

  • Everyone is invited: there are people in the room that have nothing to do with the purpose of the meeting and there isn’t a clear meeting leader to drive the meeting.

  • Intention: there is no clear intention, tight time-lined agenda or materials to review that are sent in advance, no one knows why they are there or what the purpose of the meeting is.

  • Recap: overlooking sending a recap email post-meeting to remind people of what was achieved and what still needs to be done.

Two meetings to eliminate right away are:


Project status meetings – this is a hard band aid for project managers who fear broken lines of communication. They hold these meetings to guarantee that everyone gets the same message. An alternative might be to have each team member update their status to a designated document or site and make it available for all interested to access on-demand.


Information broadcast meetings – People read faster than speaking, so instead of broadcasting a message in person to a large group, try instead to send it in writing (bonus points if there is an intranet communication page).

If the idea of luring employees to an information page is new, here are some ideas to get them started in a culture of on-demand access to information at their convenience:

  • Send email blast that new important information is waiting for them.

  • Take a walk around and tell key people about the information so they can spread to their teams.

  • Start a scavenger hunt to get the team familiar with the location of the most useful locations of information.

Make meetings matter


The most cost-effective meetings are meetings that have all participants contributing. This takes two factors into consideration: the purpose of the meeting and who is invited.


Planning meetings – When it comes to planning, it’s hard enough to get a group of friends coordinated by email for a night out for dinner and movies. With any serious planning, key people will be required to offer information, and negotiation for resources is usually involved, too. The priority of these meetings is focus with a method of debating and decision making.


Reflect and improve meetings – Think of lessons learned. What went well? What went badly? What will we do different next time. There is often variance of perspective and there is value in sharing for team growth. The priority in these meetings is clarity and information sharing.


Problem-solving and brainstorming meetings – These two topics go hand in hand and often travel together. This is a key value in choosing the right people to participate. Diverse backgrounds and opinions hold high value in the context and bring about different perspectives – sometimes pure genius results. The priority in these meetings is also clarity and information sharing.


Implementing meetings – These meetings sometimes tail on to planning meetings when appropriate. Think “how.” These meetings have a priority of accountability and include promises and requests.


When it comes to who to invite, think of those who will be direct contributors and limit attendees only to them. Instead of observers or optional attendees who just want to be “in the know,” offer a summary to those people after the meeting. If someone is only required for one piece, ask them to come in only for that portion of the meeting. A well-planned agenda can provide the appropriate time to join the meeting and not interrupt the flow.


This may be a bit uncomfortable trimming meetings at first, but it will not take long to observe the increase of productivity and gratefulness of the team for that new acquired time. The key is to not withhold information and collaboration. There must be alternative venues.


Team chats have hit the ground running as a place for teams to gather and collaborate at their own pace without necessarily interrupting work flow. There are many platforms promoting such an environment. With the use of these platforms, participants have noticed a reduction of inbox activity and faster responsiveness.


Team repositories for important information and documentation have taken the place of shared network folders. These interactive pages have relevant information grouped together with open or restricted access with much flexibility in security.


Hold efficient meetings


There are some simple things that can be done to make the most of time spent in a meeting and it comes in the form of organization, both of the leader and of the participants. Here are some tips to include in every meeting invitation so the attendees may be prepared:


  • Provide the agenda ahead of time (the day before ideally). Give a summary, goals, and decisions to be made.

  • Provide a list expected deliverables to be brought to the meeting, including those who are responsible to bring them.

  • Bring your phone to snap a picture of anything written on the white board.

  • Post a meeting recap to summarize decisions made and tasks assigned.

Efficiency is always a top goal for most organizations, and our primary goal at ITEC. We can help companies transform development teams into a buzzing hum of collaboration and increased productivity. A significant raise in productivity then leads to successfully met deadlines, increased morale, and most important, decreased cost.


Need a larger team? Before adding headcount to the development team, contact ITEC first to learn how to optimize the efficiency of the present team.

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