When handled well, workplace meetings can be a good use of team members’ time. Sometimes, though, organizations lean a bit too much on these meet-ups.
In this post, you’ll learn how to determine if your workplace has too many meetings. You’ll also discover the adverse effects of meeting excess and walk away with a list of actionable steps for solving this common problem.
Is there such a thing as too many meetings?
If it feels like your workplace has too many meetings, then it probably does.
The recent explosion in video conferencing has added hybrid and virtual meetings to employees’ already full schedules. Thirty-seven percent of employees report attending video conferencing meetings from 4 to 12 hours weekly.
Employees who have too many meetings often feel like they’re rushing from one to the next, with little time to focus on their primary responsibilities.
Also, inexperienced managers may set unnecessary meetings to gain understanding or control over their workforce.
What happens when there are too many workplace meetings?
Frustration, disengagement, and a loss of productivity can result from having too many meetings at work.
An easy way to tell whether your workplace is holding too many meetings is to check in with your employees. Are they showing frustration before, during, or after these sessions? If so, what’s this frustration related to?
Workers are expected to manage meeting attendance with their job demands. However, their work responsibilities are put on hold whenever they are pulled into a meeting. As many employees cite workload as their primary job-related frustration, the impact of many meetings can be substantial. If meetings pile up and employees don’t feel they have adequate time to attend to their work, stress — and resentment — can result.
Employees with rising frustration levels may start to disengage at work. This should be concerning to management, as there is growing evidence that employee engagement is declining in the workplace. In 2022, only 32% of employees reported feeling engaged at work.
Loss in overall productivity and efficiency is another result of too many workplace meetings. Meetings without a clear focus or agenda can feel like a waste of time. Employees report that inefficient meetings cause the most significant loss in terms of their productivity.
How to shift away from too many meetings
If you’re ready to have fewer meetings, here’s what you can do:
1. Identify the purpose of the meeting
Consider what category the meeting falls under.
Here are some examples:
- Planning meetings are scheduled to kick off a project or plot actionable steps to reach a company goal or objective. Action items and timelines are typical outcomes of planning meetings.
- Collaboration meetings bring a group together once goals have been identified. Team members work together to brainstorm, share ideas, problem-solve, and coordinate next steps.
- Feedback meetings occur in different ways.
One type of feedback meeting is a performance evaluation between a manager and an employee.
Another involves bringing the team together to review project completion and refine or revise steps before taking on the next.
Other feedback meetings may involve direct customer involvement and review.
- Decision meetings bring attendees together to evaluate options, share solutions, and make decisions at the project, team, and company levels.
Different shareholders can be involved in decision-making meetings, depending on the objectives.
If your intended meeting doesn’t fall under one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t hold it. Just know why you’re scheduling it. Understand its goals, objectives, and anticipated outcomes.
2. Invite only the necessary participants
Each employee should know why they are attending the meeting.
Think carefully about who needs to attend and why. Are they essential team members in a project planning session? Or are they being asked to bring their expertise to a collaborative session?
Employees who receive meeting invitations should immediately understand why they are being asked to attend. State the type of meeting and expectations in the invite. Encourage employees to ask questions about their attendance to increase buy-in and engagement.
Responsibilities before, during, and after the meeting should be clearly stated. Longer meetings may benefit from a timekeeper to help maintain focus and move through the agenda items.
Notetakers, facilitators, and recorders provide other services during meetings. Identify and ask your employees beforehand so they are prepared and ready for this role.
Once you’ve established your meeting goals and participants, connect with a resource to help you get it on the schedule.
Motion’s AI Assistant allows you to block out times for meetings and times you want to avoid them. It also finds shared times between users so that you aren’t stuck poring over individual schedules to set up a good meeting time.
3. Establish a clear, written agenda
Nothing derails a meeting faster than the lack of an agenda.
If you can, send out the meeting agenda ahead of time. You may even want to ask for feedback from team members.
Start and end your meeting on time to show participants you value their time. Also, outline the list of topics you plan to address. Note who will be responsible for addressing the items as needed and the amount of time you plan to spend discussing each of them. If an issue needs more time than allotted, revisit it during a future meeting or through an alternative means.
Allow time for questions or check-ins at the end of the meeting, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Ensure participants know how and when any follow-up will occur.
If participants don’t leave the meeting with a written agenda and action items, use the Motion platform to send out task items, including completion estimates and due dates.
4. Determine other delivery methods
Scheduling a meeting isn’t always the answer to addressing goals or issues.
Identify other methods for sending and receiving information, including email or interactive group chats.
Depending on the situation, asynchronous communication or hybrid meeting options may be preferable for some team members.
Don’t forget to involve your team in the decision. Would they prefer a synchronous meeting or would they rather watch a recorded video, collaborate in a shared document, or discuss an issue using a team chat?
You can also implement an interactive calendar to keep everyone on the same page regarding schedules, whether you’re considering a large planning meeting or a 1:1 feedback session.
5. Evaluate the meeting process
Now it’s time to review how your meeting process is going.
Feedback matters. Here are some questions you can ask your team after a meeting:
- How was the timing? Was the meeting planned at the right time, with the right level of follow-up? Was enough time allotted?
- Were the goals and objectives met? Did each team member understand their role and shared responsibility? Did the team stay on track during the meeting?
- How effective was the decision-making? Did the team meet, decide, and move forward? If not, which critical elements should be included next time?
- Could this meeting have been achieved through other means? Always evaluate whether a meeting was essential to the process or project. If not, find an alternative means next time.
How Shopify handles too many meetings
E-commerce giant Shopify took a radical approach to tackling the frustration of excessive meetings. They created a “Meeting Cost Calculator,” which provides the cost per attendee of any meeting with three or more people. Shopify added this calculator to its shared Google Calendar, which shows the meeting scheduler the total cost of all anticipated attendees.
Shopify’s goal is to raise awareness of the cost of meetings, which can average between $700–1,600 each, depending on who attends. If workers hold three fewer weekly meetings, Shopify anticipates a 15% reduction in costs.
If you cut back on even one meeting a week, what savings would you anticipate for your business?
Streamline your meeting process with Motion
Too many meetings affect too many employees in today’s world of work. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take a look at your schedule, and identify and eliminate any redundancies. Focus on the meetings you must have and brainstorm ways to maintain a high level of productivity and collaboration with fewer meetings.
Then, identify the right participants, and send out the agenda for the meetings that need to happen. Follow up afterward, and take action if changes are needed.
Motion AI Meeting Assistant can help you streamline meeting time.
Motion allows you to plan meetings based on your schedule. With it, you can limit your meeting availability, giving you more time to focus on the essentials of your business. Motion also offers reusable templates to quickly get meetings on the books.
Get started with a 7-day trial of Motion today to see what fewer meetings are really like.