Unproductive meetings cost a company with just 100 employees more than a million euros each year. Decision makers need to develop a new perspective on meetings: Every meeting is an investment and needs a positive return on investment!

An Editorial of the FOM Magazine

We need to talk about money!

How much money does your organization waste on unnecessary meetings each year? Or to put it another way, what is the return on investment of your meetings?

No idea? You are not alone in this.

Very few companies, associations and public authorities calculate productivity figures for meetings. Hardly anyone therefore has an idea of the costs inefficient meetings actually cause.

But meetings are expensive: employee salaries, opportunity costs - your sales team could use the 30 minutes of the daily stand-up meeting for cold calling, for example - negative impacts on employee satisfaction and motivation are the costs of inefficient meetings.

Key figures: the cost of unproductive meetings

Suppose someone were to bill you for your organization's meetings. Every time you organized a meeting, they would get an invoice afterwards.

What amount would be on it?

Here are the macro metrics: According to a survey by meeting planner Doodle , inefficient meetings cost German companies 64 billion euros each year. British companies wasted over £45 billion a year, and in the U.S. it would be over $399 billion.

What does it look like in your company?

A sample calculation:

Let's assume your average employee earns 55,000 euros per year, or 4,583 euros per month. With 160 working hours per month, this corresponds to a salary of 28.65 euros per hour.

According to the software company Atlassian , employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month, each lasting 1.5 hours, for a total of 93 meeting hours. Accordingly, the cost per meeting per month is 93 x 28.65 euros = 2,664 euros.

Opinions differ widely on the question of how productive meetings are. Various surveys assume that 30 to 75 percent of meeting time would be unproductive. The Atlassian study assumes 33 percent of unproductive meeting time and is thus at the lower end of the estimates.

For the example calculation, we remain optimistic and assume 33 percent. In this case, the unproductive meeting time per employee would cost you 879 euros every month.

In a company with 100 employees, the total cost per month would be 87,900 euros - or 1,054,800 euros per year.

This invoice does not include meeting setup costs such as meeting room costs, software and hardware, or air conditioning.

Also not included are opportunity costs, as your employees could land other jobs in the wasted meeting time, for example.

Realistically, therefore, the actual costs are well beyond the million mark - and that's even for a medium-sized company with only 100 employees!

Every meeting is an investment

Unproductive meetings are expensive! Decision makers should therefore develop a new perspective on meetings.

Every meeting is an investment! Accordingly, every meeting must achieve a positive return on investment!

A company invests time, money and resources. Like any other investment, meetings should therefore be provided with budgets, concrete goals, time targets and clear responsibilities.

That's exactly the idea of FOMs:

  • Each meeting has a clear agenda
  • Only meeting participants who are indispensable for this agenda will be invited
  • Every meeting has a hard time limit
  • Meeting data is recorded in minutes
  • Tools e.g. for voting & elections reduce the time needed during meetings
  • Automations such as participant directories reduce preparation time
No one would think of doing a construction project or even a team event without an investment plan. Meetings simply cost too much money to leave to chance. How much money is your organization wasting on unproductive meetings? What are you doing to increase productivity? Do you use FOM software in your organization? We look forward to your input. Write to us at contact@fom-magazin.de.