Meetings seen as largely a waste of time worldwide

Eight out of 10 UK workers believe most of their work meetings are unnecessary or unproductive, costing businesses thousands of pounds in wasted time, according to research published today.

An international survey of more than 2,000 workers by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters revealed that 80% of respondents agreed they wasted time attending at least half of their meetings because the meetings were unstructured and resulted in no defined actions.

Susan Major, director of HR recruitment at Robert Walters, said: “Meetings are an essential part of business – your average executive-level employee will attend two to three meetings a day.

“However, there is a question over whether some of these meetings are worth it. If they are wasting valuable working hours and nothing comes out of it – then it’s pointless for the employee and their company. Meetings should be productive – let’s not have meetings for the sake of it.”

Other findings showed that less than one in 10 people around the world truly believe in the effectiveness of meetings.

The Japanese are the strongest supporters of meetings, closely followed by the Irish.

Meetings in South Africa tend to be least productive.

Tips to improve the productivity of meetings:

  • A meaningful agenda is vital

  • As a group, prioritise items on the agenda in order of importance and then allocate time to be spent discussing each issue

  • Consider the time of day the meeting is being held. People are usually more creative and switched on in the morning

  • Ensure only the right people are invited

  • Tell everyone to switch off mobiles and portable personal organisers

  • At the end of the meeting, evaluate its effectiveness by checking the agenda to ensure all items have been discussed

  • Draw up an action plan at the end of the meeting, assign responsibilities and establish timelines for tasks.

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