Are meetings costing your business too much money?

Meetings are a hidden operating expense that often cost businesses more than they realize. While the typical goal of a meeting is to get things done, the reality is that most meetings only serve as a time sink.

According to Inc. and the online meeting company, Fuze, here are some staggering meeting statistics to ponder:

  • There are 25 million meetings per day in the U.S.
  • More than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings.
  • 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings.
  • Middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings.
  • Upper management spends 50% of their time in meetings.
  • People spend up to 4 hours per week preparing for status update meetings.
  • Most meetings are unproductive – In fact, executives consider more than 67% of meetings a failure.

While meetings are meant to be an efficient way for people to get together to discuss ideas, consider issues, overcome obstacles and drive outcomes – they are notorious for spiraling into black holes with either no outcomes or follow up.

Why is this? How can time with good intentions cost businesses so much money? Here are a few reasons to consider why most meetings are not only unproductive, but are also cutting into your ROI.


Most Meetings Are Not Productive

Meetings take time, energy and money. They are often necessary for project and campaign kick-offs and for important touch-base or come-to-Jesus sessions, but statistics show they are often unproductive, time-consuming and inadvertently a waste of resources.

  1. Multitasking – More times than not, employees are not giving their full attention to the meeting topic at-hand. In fact, 92% of Fuze survey respondents confessed to multitasking during meetings, whether checking email or doing other work.


  1. Lack of Planning and / or Structure – Keeping meetings short (ideally, 30 minutes or less!), with a scheduled plan of agenda is one way to help keep meetings productive. Presenters need to come prepared, and the organizer needs to keep the agenda focused so that it doesn’t spiral out of control on random tangents. Many companies are finding they need to invest in improving meeting effectiveness and are training employees on proper meeting protocol.


  1. Remote Participants Are Not Actively Engaged – A mobile workforce means a remote one, which further complicates meetings. Fuze reports that 80% of communication and participation messages come from body language, which is something that is hard to pick up on if a colleague is remote. Not to mention, there are often too many distractions from remote settings if employees are not held accountable by contributing to the meeting.


How Much Are Meetings Costing Your Business?

The folks at Harvard Business Review developed a Web app that calculates how much a meeting costs a company. You will need the following information:

  1. Length of meeting
  2. Number of Attendees
  3. Estimated Salary of Each Person Attending

Estimate the cost of a meeting to determine whether you are getting your desired ROI.


How Can You Make Meetings Better at Your Office?

If your business is looking for opportunities to save on operating costs and worker productivity, optimizing meetings is a good way to start. Here are a few tips to keep meetings efficient and successful:

  • Determine whether the meeting is truly necessary
  • Set clear expectations in meeting invite
  • Schedule shorter meetings – typically 30 minutes, or less
  • Send review materials in advance
  • Start and end on schedule
  • Only include necessary individuals – be clear who is optional
  • Avoid tangents – keep agenda focused and on track
  • Avoid monologues – engage all participants
  • Capture key points and action items for distribution after meeting


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