The biggest hidden cost in your organization

Meetings are often standard practice in the corporate world. We accept invitations without thinking and arrive with everyone else, but at what cost? The value of those meetings is directly relevant to the value of the information shared. Who can raise their hand if they’ve been in a meeting and wondered why they were there?

Many times, bringing together a large group of people packed into a conference room is to the benefit of only a few, or even one, saving them from having to repeat 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 happening in real-time at these meetings:



Measured cost of meetings

A great practice on many topics in getting a handle on costs is a direct focus on measurements as a way of demonstrating value, waste, and gauging improvement. There is a measurable cost associated with meetings. With the knowledge of what occurs, how much value is really in these meetings? Another thing to ask is what the cost of these meetings is?

Let’s explore the concept of cost for a minute and turn these soft costs into hard dollars.

Let’s take a company with 200 employees. The average salary for these employees is $60,000 per year, which equates to $31.25 per hour.

The employees attend an average of 60 meetings each month (60 x $31.25). Their attendance costs the company $1,875.00 monthly for each employee.

Since we are talking about all 200 employees, we can multiply that $1,875by the 200 total employees and companies are spending $375,000 each month on meetings alone, or an annual total (x12) of $4,500,000. Is that money well spent?

Once you catch your breath, we have a little more.

Consider this next: About a third of that time spent in meetings is unproductive for one or more attendees, so that is a cost of $626.25 ($1,875 x 33.4%) spent on non-productive time, or $125,250 for the entire employee population each month.

That comes to $1,503,000 per year as the cost for employees to attend meetings where they gained no value or had no contribution. That’s a big pill of waste to swallow. How much productivity can we buy for $1,503,000?

To get an idea of your own team’s meeting expenses, click here to access the meeting cost calendar:

Where is the waste?

Forbes offers us four key traits that make a meeting stupid (yes, they said it just like that):

  • Ineffective communication:much info sharing and point proving with minimal requests and promises.
  • Invite Everyone:there are people in the room that have nothing to do with the purpose of the meeting, and there is no clear meeting leader to drive the meeting.
  • Intention (or lack thereof):there is no clear intention, time-lined agenda, or materials to review in advance; no one knows why they are there or what the purpose of the meeting is.
  • Recap neglect:overlooking sending a recap email post-meeting to remind people of meeting achievements and what actions remain pending.

Eliminate these meetings right away

Status meetings – this is a hard band-aid to rip off for leaders who fear broken lines of communication. These meetings guarantee that everyone receives the same message. Instead of a mass meeting, an alternative might be to have each team member update their status to a designated document or site individually with shared access to all who need it. Team members can make their updates without interrupting their flow of work.

Information meetings – Again, the concern is the accuracy of the message, but there are other ways to consider. For example, people read faster than someone speaks, so instead of broadcasting a message verbally to a large group, send it in writing instead (bonus points if there is an intranet communication page).

Breaking in a new habit of an information page is a new concept to some groups, so here are some ideas to get them started with on-demand access to information at their convenience:

  • Send email blasts informing that important new details are waiting for them.
  • Walk around and personally tell the Team Leads about the information with the intention of them spreading this information to their teams.
  • Inspire a scavenger hunt for targeted details to get the team familiar with the most useful areas of information.

Make meetings worth the cost

The most cost-effective meetings are those full of active participants. The two factors to consider are the purpose of the meeting and invitees.

Planning – It is hard enough to get a group of friends coordinated. It is even worse with colleagues and conflicting priorities. In a successful planning meeting, participants are required to offer information, and negotiation for resources is often involved. The priority of these meetings is a method of debating and decision making.

Reflect and improve– Think of lessons learned. What went well? What did not? What will we change next time? There is often skewed perspective between different people, and the value is sharing with the goal of team growth.  These meetings’ priority is clarity and information sharing.

Problem-solving and brainstorming– These two topics often travel together because one helps accomplish the other — the key to success is in choosing the right people to participate. Diverse backgrounds and opinions bring about different perspectives – sometimes real genius results. The priority in these meetings is also clarity and information sharing.

Implementing– These meetings sometimes follow right behind planning meetings. Think “how.” The priority of these meetings is accountability, and they involve promises and requests.

When it comes down to whom to invite, think of only those who will be direct contributors. Omit the practice of inviting observers or optional attendees who want to be “in the know.” Instead, offer a summary to those individuals after the meeting. If someone is needed for one part of the meeting, invite them for that portion of the meeting timed by a well-planned agenda to continue the flow.

Lighthouse understands cost and efficiency

Efficiency is always a top goal for most organizations and our primary goal at Lighthouse Technologies. We help transform development teams into a buzzing hum of collaboration and increased productivity by improving efficiency along with quality. A significant rise in productivity next leads to successfully met deadlines, improved morale, and most importantly, decreased cost. Ask us how an on-shore organization can cost less than off-shore testing.


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