Executives Believe One-Quarter of Meetings Are Unnecessary, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Professionals should think twice before scheduling that next meeting, a survey suggests. Managers interviewed said 28 percent of these gatherings are a waste of time. Moreover, almost half of respondents (45 percent) felt employees would be more productive if their company banned meetings one day a week.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, “What percentage of meetings do you feel are unnecessary?” The average response was 28 percent

Executives also were asked, “How much more or less productive do you believe your employees would be if your company banned meetings one day a week?” Their responses:                           

 Much more productive    13%
 Somewhat more productive    32%
 No change    46%
 Somewhat less productive      4%
 Much less productive      3%
 Don’t know/no answer      2%

“Businesses are operating with lean teams, which implies more people are stretched for time,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Sometimes meetings outlive their original purpose, so professionals should carefully consider whether one is warranted or if there’s a more efficient way to share the information.”

Hosking added, “The adage, ‘Be brief, be brilliant, be gone,’ rings particularly true in the workplace right now. Meeting organizers and participants both play a role in keeping these gatherings in check.”    

OfficeTeam offers five signs that a meeting could be a “time waster”:

  1. Everything but the kitchen sink is being covered. It’s wise to have an agenda, but one that is lengthy or unfocused could indicate that not all of the information will be relevant to every attendee. When the agenda becomes too long, organizers should consider whether it would be better to hold smaller, more focused gatherings.
  2. It’ll take more than an hour. You often lose people after 60 minutes, so think carefully about scheduling a meeting that will take more than an hour of someone’s time. If there’s no way to condense, consider snacks, interactive elements or multiple speakers to keep people engaged.
  3. The attendee list goes on and on. When a participant list is extensive, it may signal an overly ambitious meeting, or one where people are being invited as a courtesy, rather than because they need to attend. If you’re organizing the meeting, be sure to list people as “optional” if their presence isn’t required.
  4. There’s a large PowerPoint deck involved. Visuals can be useful for reinforcing information, but it’s possible much of that information could be shared prior to the meeting. The gathering then could be used to field questions or highlight the most important data.
  5. It’s a habit. Routine meetings can become, well, routine. Think about whether regular gatherings are necessary or could be held less frequently.

“Meeting participants who notice these signs should confirm with the host that their attendance is required and, if so, offer ideas for keeping the meeting efficient,” said Hosking.

About OfficeTeam
OfficeTeam provides businesses with the highly skilled administrative professionals they need to maximize productivity, achieve cost efficiency and support existing staff. The staffing firm has more than 325 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.

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