Pointless and unproductive meetings cost SMEs £973,000 every year

According to research conducted by STL Microsoft Training, 139 pointless and unproductive work meetings occur within SMEs every year costing just under £1 million annually.

Lack of lists, poor prioritisation, social distractions and not taking breaks are just some of the biggest time management mistakes that people make. However, one of the costliest is unproductive and pointless meetings.

Data compiled by the team reveals that these are costing SMEs up to £973,000 every year!

139 pointless meetings attended every year

Data reveals that the average SME employee attends 207 meetings every year of which 139 (67 per cent) are a waste of time by not achieving the goal set. When calculating the cost of this, the Harvard Business Review Meeting Cost Calculator suggests employers pay £28 for every hour spent per employee in a meeting.

If a meeting lasts an hour, this costs employers £5,796 for every employee annually. However as 139 meetings each year are labelled as ‘pointless’, £3,892 of that cost goes to waste.

An SME has up to 250 employees working for them. This means that in total, time wasting meetings could be costing small to medium sized companies in the UK £973,000 yearly. And this doesn’t take into consideration travel time, transport fees and external expenses!

According to Microsoft Training, to help reduce the cost of wasted time in meetings, employers or management are encouraged to follow these five steps:

  • Ensure that a clear agenda is set and know exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Consult with another team member if you need to but a little extra time at the front end will save more time at the back end.
  • Ask yourself, carefully: Do all of these people really need to attend? Or could some of them just receive a brief email summary or quick call afterward?
  • Schedule a 30 minute meeting instead of an hour. Meetings are usually stretched out to fill the allocated space. If you half the meeting time, you’ll do what is needed but in a tighter time frame. If longer is needed, keep the relevant people behind or schedule another.
  • Always start on time and don’t wait for latecomers. Way too much time is wasted waiting for people to arrive and repeating what has already been said.
  • No mobile phones in the room – Don’t hesitate to ask people to leave their phones, laptops and tablets at their desk when they come to your meeting. Mobile devices are one of the biggest distractions in the workplace and therefore can impact the productivity during the one hour meeting slot you have.

Time is precious – and costly! Make it as efficient as possible. Following these steps should not only save you money but save time in cutting down the amount of meetings that take place each year.

Eight other time management mistakes costing companies millions each year include:

  • Not knowing what needs to be done
  • Picking the easiest tasks
  • Being distracted by interruptions
  • Saying yes too often
  • Not delegating
  • Not setting goals
  • Not taking breaks
  • Procrastinating

Further reading on pointless meetings

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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