How much does your company spend each year on meetings?
Let me guess. You don’t know because there’s not a line on the P&L that answers this question.
Well then I suggest you march on down to Accounting and ask someone to generate a report for you.
Worried they won’t be able to? Me too. They can’t add up what they never tracked in the first place.
That’s too bad because meeting expense is a big one. You should have some idea of what it is.
Because you can’t get a report, you are left with your ability to estimate. Pull up your favorite spreadsheet or better yet, just grab a piece of scratch paper and a pencil. You’re going to take a crack at that number right now.
Determine how many employees you have in each of the following categories:
- Executive management
- Middle management
- Frontline management
- Project managers
- Sales people
- Frontline support people (HR, Legal, Finance, etc)
- Frontline production/service employees
You can add more categories if you want. The goal is to put people together who spend roughly the same percent of their days in meetings.
For each category, take your best guess at the percent of their work day that is spent in meetings. Execs are 75%+. Other managers likely come in between 30 and 60%. For most frontline employees it’s probably 10% or less.
The number is just a guess, so don’t sweat your uncertainty. If it makes you feel better, poll a few of your coworkers.
Assign each category an average annual cost. That number includes both salary and all associated tax and benefit costs. An HR comp specialist might be able to help you with those numbers if you aren’t comfortable guessing.
Do the math to get your best guess about the minimum amount spent on meetings.
It’s equal to:
[number of employees]
X [percent of time spent in meetings]
X [average annual cost].
If you want to be more inclusive; add in travel, accommodations, and preparation time. Feel free to leave out the cost of donuts. That will get you an even bigger number, one that is likely shockingly large.
Ask the critical question
The size of the number doesn’t matter that much in itself. What should concern you is your return on that money.
Let’s say you calculated an annual meeting expense of $5 million. The question you ought to be thinking long and hard about is “What did we get for our $5 million?”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t meet. I’m simply saying you already are spending a ton of money on meetings. You, and all the participants, would like their time (which equals money) to be well spent.
Meetings are a big deal. It’s time to start calculating what they cost you and measuring your return on that investment.
If the return strikes you as low, do something about it. I can help you change the meeting culture from one of waste to one focused on efficiency and effectiveness. Contact me to discuss your meeting situation.