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How Much Do Bad Meetings Really Cost?

November 8, 2007
Related Topics: Corporate Culture
I wrote last month about all the wasted time that takes place in mind-numbing, unfocused meetings, and how unproductive so many meetings are for today’s workforce (see “Meetings, Bloody Meetings”). Many of you agreed with me, but others said they had no good way of calculating just how costly bad meetings actually were. Well, here’s a new tool for estimating just how much precious workforce time that bad meeting is costing the company. The meeting cost calculator called Meeting Miser was introduced this week by PayScale, a Seattle-based company that specializes in online compensation and benefits data for employers and working folk. According to a PayScale press release, the Meeting Miser is “a free widget that allows individuals to calculate, in real time, the salary costs of workplace meetings … [pulling] salary information from the PayScale salary dataset that includes more than 8.5 million unique user profiles worldwide.” The cool thing about Meeting Miser is the running tally of how much your meeting is costing the company as it drones on and on. We tried it out here at the Workforce Management World Headquarters and found that although it undercalculated the per-minute cost of our three-person meeting by 47 percent ($1.21 per minute versus about the $2.30 per minute it was really costing us). That’s probably because it’s hard to find good salary data for editors (we carry an array of strange titles whose gradations are something that the Masons would have a hard time tracking). Your mileage may vary, in other words, depending on where you work and what job titles you have. Still, the point Meeting Miser makes is a good one: Meetings are costly, and frequently are a colossal waste of time for workers at all levels. Having some way to guesstimate just how much they cost, no matter how rough the calculation, is the first, big step to limiting out-of-control meetings in the first place.

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