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Can Cutting Out Meetings Improve Employee Engagement?

‘Meeting’ has become a dreaded word in the office dictionary. For many employees, just the word can bring on a shudder of despair. This is because many meetings turn out to be huge time wasters, where the agenda is unclear and not much ends up getting accomplished. This causes your employees to burn the midnight oil in order to make up the time wasted sitting in these endless gatherings. Schedule too many meetings, and you might see your employee engagement lower in response.

If your employees hate meetings, they’re not alone. A recent survey showed nine out of 10 employees would prefer to interact with coworkers in any other way besides sitting through a meeting. This is because 60 percent of those surveyed feel like nothing is actually accomplished during these meetings, while 50 percent feel they attend too many meetings with no clear agenda. 

This hasn’t stopped the flood of daily meetings for the average professional, though. In fact, there are about 11 million business meetings every single day. Not all meetings are time-sucking nightmares, but sitting through too many inconvenient gatherings can certainly lower your employee engagement and wreak havoc with your workers’ productivity and morale.

Here are a few ways you can cut back on your meetings to improve morale and give your employees the gift of time:

Get social
Social media isn’t just useful for posting videos of baby animals and tweeting to your favorite celebrity. Today, social media tools are being utilized in the workplace to communicate in real time faster and more effectively. Instead of calling a meeting with your whole team to address a few minor issues, you might want to consider sending those members a quick instant message in order to clear up the confusion.

With social tools, you’ll be able to get questions answered quickly and seamlessly with no sit-downs required. This will help workers keep you abreast of developments without hurting productivity. Now your team is only a few clicks away, which allows you to stay updated while keeping them focused.

Utilize online video
Online video isn’t just effective when it comes to viewing a video resume or performing a video interview. In fact, it can also work as a powerful communication tool. Utilizing online video, you can talk to your team anywhere and at any time without all the hassle of scheduling meetings around several packed schedules.

Since 42 percent of workers complain the needed people don’t even make it to important in-person meetings, using online video is an easy way to keep everyone involved. Plus, being able to communicate in a more personal fashion will help you maintain your team morale and employee engagement, without interrupting workflow too severely.

Run better meetings
As much as your employees might like the idea, it’s really impossible to do away with meetings entirely. At some point your team will have to get together and hash out problems or brainstorm new ideas. But this doesn’t mean your meetings need to have the same drawbacks that made them employee engagement kryptonite.

Here are some tips to help you run better meetings when you can’t cut them out entirely:

  • Have a clear-cut agenda: A clear cut agenda is the best way to ensure you cover all important information. Anything not essential enough to make the agenda shouldn’t be discussed in the meeting.
  • Have a hard stop point: To make sure meetings don’t drag on endlessly, plan a certain amount of time for the meeting and then go back to work. If you didn’t cover everything in the half hour or hour you planned, deal with the rest of the agenda at a later time or through email communication. Your hard stop can become a good barometer of how effectively your meetings are running.
  • Lead with the most important topic: This isn’t a good book or a movie with a twist ending. There’s no need to save the best for last. Lead with your most important topic so you can ensure you have enough time to deal with it adequately.

You’ll never be able to rid yourself of all meetings, despite what your staff might prefer. But thanks to new technology, social tools, and a little rigorous agenda-setting you might just be able to cut down on the amount of needless office gatherings. This will lead to better employee engagement and greater productivity from your workers.

What are some ways you can cut down on meetings and improve your employee engagement? Share with us in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Voka – Kamer van Koophandel Limburg.

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Written by

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Connect with Heather and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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