Business Meetings – Quantifying the Massive Investment

Have you ever wondered how much money is invested in meetings?  We wanted to take a stab at quantifying the magnitude of the meeting investment.  We originally compiled most of this research for a presentation that we gave a few months back but we extended that research further for this article.  The goal of the research was to produce a quick back of the envelope quantification of a seldom considered but significant aspect of business meetings.  Specifically we were very interested in trying to quantify the investment that is made in meetings by organizations of all sizes each and every day.  Obviously this could be the topic of an intense year or longer research study but we thought just scratching the surface of this topic would provide some food for thought.  We think you will find the numbers below both conservative in nature and compelling at the same time.

  • According to the National Statistics Council the typical employee spends about 37% of their time in meetings
  • That equates to over 60 one hour meetings each month
  • The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts average employee compensation at $30 per hour
  • That translates into approximately $1,800 per employee each month that is invested in meetings
  • Several studies we reviewed, including a sampling of our own survey results on meeting effectiveness, place meeting productivity at around 50%


So you might be thinking $1,800 per month doesn’t sounds like a huge investment.  Lets take a look at what this means for a company with 1,000 employees.

  • $1,800 per month per employee  x 1,000 employees = $1,800,0000 per month invested in meetings
  • $1,800,000 per month x 12 months per year = $21,600,000 invested in meetings annually


Okay so maybe now we have your attention.  Our 1,000 person company is conservatively investing 21.6 Million dollars a year in meetings.  If those meetings are only 50% productive then that means our 1,000 person company is wasting almost 11 Million dollars a year in employee time spend sitting in unproductive meetings.  How is this being tolerated?  What value could this wasted 11 Million dollars have produced for our 1,000 person company.  If this is not startling enough lets take the numbers to a whole new level.

 A 2008 U.S. Labor Trends Report projects that in 2010 the labor force would consist of approximately 157 Million workers.  For this calculation lets assume we are dealing primarily with white collar workers since they account for the majority of meetings that are conducted.  Another study suggests that white collar workers comprise roughly 50% of the work force.  This means that there are roughly 78.5 Million white collar workers in America.  If we revisit the numbers from our earlier calculations then the math looks something like this.
  • $1,800 per employee per month x 78,500,000 employees = $141,300,000,000 that is invested in meetings annually.  Yes that is 141 Billion Dollars.
  • If we consider that roughly 50% of meeting time is unproductive then collectively there is approximately 70.5 Billion Dollars a year that is being wasted in unproductive meetings.  WOW!
  • 70.5 Billion Dollars seems like an overwhelming number.  What is 720 hours (60 hours per month x 12 months) of your time worth each year?


This is an alarming waste of resources that should cause anyone responsible for calling meetings to pause and reflect on a few key questions.

  1. Is the meeting that I am scheduling really required?
  2. Have I considered the cost of the meeting?
  3. Do I have a clearly defined set of objectives for the meeting that can be measured?
  4. Do I have a carefully planned agenda designed to achieve my objectives?
  5. Have I invited and confirmed that the required people and only the required people will be in attendance at the meeting?
  6. Have I communicated ground rules for the meeting that will ensure we stay on topic and achieve our desired objectives in the time allotted for the meeting?
  7. Have I ensured that all logistical preparations have been made for the meeting and that all required materials have been assembled and communicated to meeting attendees with sufficient time for individual preparation?
  8. Do I have a plan for ensuring that proper follow up after the meeting is done in a timely manner?

For more information and resources for running effective meetings visit

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