Unpacking the Price Tag of Late Starting Meetings

Late starting meetings waste time and money. Better planning and the right technology can increase worker productivity, happiness, and the bottom line.

According to studies, on average employees attend 62 meetings each month. Wow!

With so much time spent in meetings, making sure they are effective and efficient is very important to all business units, departments, and companies. Including the right attendees, allocating the appropriate amount of time, and ending with clear actions and timelines all contribute to having an effective meeting.

Another essential task to having a result-oriented meeting is making sure they start on time. While it may not seem that a few minutes delay here and there are significant, meetings that do not begin on time carry negative impacts. First off these meetings can set in motion a chain reaction on the rest of a worker’s day. Since the delayed meeting often ends late, it can make the person tardy to future meetings and also contributes to employees feeling behind schedule and rushing to get things done. On top of that meetings that do not start on time can have a psychological impact on workers leaving them feeling frustrated and disrespected, and just putting individuals in an overall bad mood.

This wasted time in business does not just decrease productivity and promote stress, but it also has a financial impact on businesses. The costs include salaries for employees who attend as well as indirect costs such as slow decision making which can lead to project delays. There can also be costs associated with overtime and travel expenses.

According to much cited stats from Booqed, the average delay in starting a work meeting is 10 minutes and 40 seconds per meeting. Now if an employee has 62 meetings each month that equates to just over 10 hours lost per month – for each individual! The numbers only grow when talking about executive meetings where the average delay is 15 minutes and 42 seconds per meeting.

So what causes meetings starts to be postponed and what can be done to hopefully stop late starting meetings?  Some reasons and ways to deal with them are:


Meeting starts can be held up while waiting for missing attendees. Or if the meeting is already in motion, when the latecomer arrives there is often the urge to repeat what has already been discussed. Latecomers are disruptive and regular offenders are often viewed negatively by fellow team members, further adding to employee stress.

Prior Meetings Run Over

If your attendees have a meeting prior to yours, there is a chance that meeting will run late. There can be many reasons why this happens, from lack of proper planning to waiting for latecomers and other forces. This creates the ripple effect where those in attendance are now late in getting to their next – your – meeting.

Lack of an Agenda

All attendees should know in advance what the meeting is supposed to accomplish. Experts say meeting content and objectives should be created and shared in advance. It is a big mistake and time waster to spend the first few minutes of a meeting deciding what will be discussed.

Allowing Side Discussions

It may seem of no concern to let two colleagues who have been trying to connect talk spend a few minutes talking about a completely different topic since they are now in the same room. But this just adds another delay in getting to the true meeting objective and wastes time of the other attendees.

Technology Issues

Technology has changed how we work, and the overall acceptance of video conferencing has only increased our need to have reliable and easy-to-use technology. Having a hard time connecting or issues such as poor audio and/or visual quality can leave those in the room frustrated and remote employees completely in the dark (literally). Up-to-date software and hardware is vital to businesses so systems run without glitches. Likewise spending time upfront to have your technology provider provide training on the system will give team members the knowledge and confidence they need to manage the equipment.


Crunching The Numbers

Now that we understand how much time is spent in meetings and why they are delayed, let’s crunch the numbers. An employee earning $70,000 annually equates to an hourly rate of $33.65. So the 10 lost hours per month we discussed above equates to $4,038 lost per year for a single employee. With multiple people attending meetings it is easy to see how an individual meeting can mean thousands of dollars down the drain for a company, never to be recovered.

It’s important for businesses to review the efficiency and productivity of their meetings, and take steps to as best as possible stop late starting meetings. By implementing better planning practices and using the right technology they can increase worker productivity, happiness, and the bottom line.

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