Why I Love Meeting Math – And So Will You

I thought by now there’d be no point for this rant. I started facilitating workshops over 30 years ago, based on time honored best practices for planning, leading and following up on workplace meetings. With the evolving workplace culture, new communication tools and the impact of technology, most meetings should have become obsolete, like manual type writers and micro fiche. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Today, I attend several recurring committee or team meetings for several organizations and clients. While I do see some process improvements and better use of technology, there’s still way too much same-o/same-o for me. Too much inefficient use of time and people resources and not enough of management viewing meetings as expensive tools for specific purposes. And I still don’t see enough assessment of the true cost of meetings.

For example, the marketing department of Lameo Industries has weekly two-hour staff meetings that involve one VP, three managers and an admin. To compute the salary cost for each meeting, determine the hourly wage for each person or their salary divided by 2,000 work hours per year. Then, double that number to allow for health care, other benefits, space, time off, etc.

For Lameo, that group’s number is $540 per hour. So, a two-hour meeting costs $1,080 per week or over $56,000 per year – quite a chunk of change. And that doesn’t factor in lost opportunity costs or the impact on employee morale, since most people hate meetings anyway. Or, travel costs going from one building to another. Or the cost of the donuts.

Do the meeting math for your department or team. If you’re concerned about a large annual cost, then consider options. If Lameo trimmed the weekly meetings to one hour from two, they’d reduce the cost to $28,000. If they met every two weeks instead of weekly and used email threads to keep people informed in between, they’d be down to $14,000. Properly done, these shorter and less frequent meetings can accomplish the same amount of work or value and staff won’t mind the change. Just ask them.