1. May 2024

Why is everyone talking about… meeting overload?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 3

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering the concept of meeting overload and how the cost of meetings might be giving organisations pause as to how they are structured and run.

What you need to know

Are you in far too many meetings? Recent data has found that the average worker spends about 37% of their time at work in meetings or coordinating meetings. If that feels like a lot, it’s because that’s a 192% increase in the number of meetings since 2020 (according to data from Microsoft Teams). 

But what does a meeting truly cost? An additional study from Reclaim AI found that, per worker, the average annual cost of meetings totals somewhere around $29,129 USD (£23,241.74/€27.165,71). 

Companies like Asana have cracked down hard on the concept of “meeting overload” and how they impede productivity. Additionally, Shopify even famously published a “cost calculator for pointless meetings.” 

Whether it’s “Focus Fridays” at Slack or “Winning Wednesdays” at Personio (more on that one later), there are many organisations currently trying to solve the conundrum of too many meetings.

What others are saying about it 

“There are lots of people in an organisation whose calendars are busy enough that they would really merit an executive assistant,” says Henry Shapiro, Co-Founder of Reclaim AI. “The current solution for organisations is sort of doing nothing, basically just saying hey you gotta figure this out, this is just part of you doing your job,” he explains. 

That said, meetings still have a vital role to play. Jessica Gilmartin, CMO at Calendy, explains:  “Meetings get a real bad rep because they tend to not be really helpful. But millions and millions of people rely on meetings to get their jobs done. If you think about internal meetings, that is where decisions get made, that is where people collaborate and they communicate, and they can make decisions that allow them to move forward.”

What that means for you

Are you running too many meetings? If you go by the data, the odds are pretty good that you are! 

Consider the publication MeetingNotes, where employees are only allowed to spend 10% of their week in meetings (a total of four hours per week). While this might seem extreme, it’s a strong countermeasure to meetings encroaching on more and more of the work day. 

For any organisation, we’d recommend considering some of the following: 

  • Perform a meeting purge: Think about why your organisation runs recurring meetings and how you can improve them. But start by eliminating meetings that don’t add value — think of the old adage: “this meeting could have been an email.” 

  • Reserve time for focus work: At Personio, every Wednesday is “Winning Wednesday” which is time set aside to focus on core work. Consider rolling out this initiative on a day that makes sense for your teams and then collect feedback on how people are finding it. 

  • Rethink how you run meetings: A good meeting often will have a pre-read, an agenda and actions to consider, evaluate and take following the meeting. Try to incorporate these in your meeting policies and onboarding materials. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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About Max Specht

About Max Specht

Max Specht is a Content Marketing Manager at Personio, where he writes about a host of topics critical to the HR industry: recruiting, onboarding, development, and more. As a journalist, his goal is to help experts in the field of HR share their insights in a digestible, actionable way.

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