'Meeting Culture' Is Costing Companies $101 Million a Year A new study finds that reducing meeting attendance saves sanity and money.

By Jonathan Small

If you feel like you're spending most of your waking life trapped in business meetings, you may be right.

The average employee goes to 17.7 meetings a week, spending one-third of their working hours sitting on a zoom call or around a conference room table.

That's not only excessive—that's expensive, according to a new study by transcription company Otter.ai in partnership with the University of North Carolina Chancellor's professor Dr. Steven Rogelberg.

The report surveyed 632 employees in over 20 different industries and found that companies pay an average of $25K per professional employee to attend unnecessary meetings each year. That adds up to $2.5 million a year for companies of 100 people. In companies with more than 5,000 employees, that number climbs to over $100 million.

The report also found that the higher the employee's salary, the more time they spent in meetings costing their company money. For example, a manager making $160,000 yearly wastes $12,800 of the company's investment.

Dr. Rogelberg says the norms around what he calls "meeting culture" are broken and need to be re-examined.

"When employees are in meetings that they don't need to be in, they often sit there disengaged or multi-task, which distracts others and can derail the meeting," said Dr. Robelberg, who has researched meetings with companies including Google, Facebook, and the United Nations. "Not only does this impact the quality of the meeting, but it claims essential employee productivity and time."

Related: How to Tame Meeting Overload

Fewer Meetings Mean Happier Employees

While employees accept 83% of the meeting invitations they get, they secretly want to decline 31% of those meetings, even though they only decline 14%. As a result, many of those surveyed said they felt "frustrated" and "annoyed" during meetings. Perhaps acting out, seventy percent reported multi-tasking, while 45% turned the video or audio off.

Most employees (86%) said they got more done when they had long, uninterrupted blocks of time and that fewer meetings would mean more job satisfaction.

When asked how companies can reduce the number of unnecessary meetings, employees had some solutions, including:

  • Shifting the company culture to make declining meetings not so taboo.
  • Distributing high-quality meeting notes, including a summary of action points.
  • Inviting employees to meetings that are only relevant to them.

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur

Jonathan Small is editor-in-chief of Green Entrepreneur, a vertical from Entrepreneur Media focused on the intersection of sustainability and business. He is also an award-winning journalist, producer, and podcast host of the upcoming True Crime series, Dirty Money, and Write About Now podcasts. Jonathan is the founder of Strike Fire Productions, a premium podcast production company. He had held editing positions at Glamour, Stuff, Fitness, and Twist Magazines. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, and Good Housekeeping. Previously, Jonathan served as VP of Content for the GSN (the Game Show Network), where he produced original digital video series.

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