In the News: Are Unproductive Business Team Meetings Taking Over Your Calendar?

July 17, 2023 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Joshua Chong, Toronto Star

Bored woman sitting in meeting room with her colleagues

You’ve likely been there — stuck in a boring business meeting, staring at the clock while your manager drones on about another irrelevant report. You imagine what you could be doing with the time, perhaps finishing work, grabbing lunch or socializing with co-workers.

Ineffective business team meetings can, at best, merely be a waste of time. At worst, however, they can lower employee morale, damage relationships and cost companies thousands of dollars in lost productivity. An report found a company with more than 100 employees could save nearly $2.5 million each year by cutting pointless meetings.

Changes that have come out of the pandemic — such as hybrid work arrangements, new technology and people working remotely — have made team meetings all the more challenging.

Some organizations have cancelled meetings altogether. Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify, for instance, conducted a “calendar purge” in January, removing all recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity.” Other business leaders, however, maintain that meetings are essential to the workplace.

So, are meeting truly necessary? And if so, how can we make them less of a chore?

Regardless of your role, here are seven tips and strategies you can implement to run more effective, productive and — ultimately — enjoyable work meetings.


Meet with a purpose

Just because you have a team meeting scheduled in your calendar for every Wednesday doesn’t mean you must — or even should — meet weekly.

Employees’ time is precious, so meet with a purpose. If you’re a manager, ask yourself if a meeting is the most efficient use of your team’s time. Could what you need be easily sorted through an email thread or an informal chat instead?

“One of the things that gets lost is just how expensive meetings are. It’s an invisible cost,” said Catherine Connelly, a Canada Research Chair in organizational behaviour and professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.

“If people are making $100 an hour and there are 10 people in your (hour-long) meeting, that’s $1,000 spent on your meeting,” she said. “So, you have to ask yourself whether you’d get $1,000 of productivity out of that meeting.”

Read the full article in the Toronto Star.

Catherine Connelly

Catherine Connelly

Professor, Human Resources & Management, and Research Chair of Organizational Behavior

Dr. Catherine Connelly holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Organizational Behaviour, and is a Member Emeritus of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is a former associate editor for Human Relations and currently serves on several editorial boards including the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management Review, the Academy of Management Discoveries journal, and Human Resource Management.

Her research focuses on the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences of non-standard workers (e.g., temporary agency workers, contractors, temporary foreign workers), the effects of leadership styles on leader well-being, and knowledge hiding in organizations. Catherine also conducts applied research with several Canadian organizations in both the private and non-profit sector.

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