Want More Effective Meetings? Learn from an HR Pro

MeetingAre your clients difficult to reach during the workday? When you do reach them, do they complain about being stressed out and over-scheduled? Chances are good that they’ve gotten stuck in unnecessary, ineffective meetings that devour their schedule, energy, and productivity. As HRAnswerlink affiliates, you can help! Did you know that our Training On-Demand library includes management-focused topics that allow you to provide value to your clients that go well beyond payroll and HR services?

Most office workers spend an average of four hours per week in meetings and feel that at least half of that time is wasted. In a recent survey, 47% of respondents cited “too many meetings” as the top time waster in the workplace. HRAnswerLink HR Consultant Eric Cook, PHR explains, “Intrinsically, people like to work and like to accomplish work. Often, meetings are overblown, too long, or held routinely for no value to the business, and demotivate team members.”

To meet or not to meet?
The first key to more effective meetings is to decide whether a meeting is necessary. Can the goal be accomplished via email or other means of communication?

If the goal is to transmit information from one or two people to a larger group, an email that group members can review at their convenience may be more effective than a meeting. Other factors have a bearing on meeting productivity: Too many participants, unclear objectives, disruptive employees, and poor meeting leadership can make even the most well-intentioned meeting a waste of time and productivity.

If the goal is more collaborative in nature and can’t be accomplished via other means, a meeting may be necessary. “In a situation like professional services, meetings can be useful to sync employee work, collaborate on projects, and solve problems, or gather several people to undertake what one person cannot do by themselves,” Cook says.

Another factor to consider when deciding whether a meeting is necessary is cost. A meeting’s cost includes more than just the wages of the participants involved. An often-overlooked cost of meetings is the loss in employee productivity.

“Instead of just looking at the accounting cost, companies should look at the opportunity cost in terms of what also could be done with that time that would create value for the company,” says Cook. Does the meeting’s cost in both accounting and productivity terms provide more benefit to the company than if those participants were engaged in accomplishing other work or personal development and creative interests?

Making meetings effective
If a meeting is necessary, there are several ways to ensure that it’s as productive as possible. Sticking to simple guidelines such as starting and ending on time can make a huge difference. The meeting’s leader should be able to keep the discussion focused and take corrective actions when the dialogue veers off track.

Another way to help make a meeting effective is to include only those who are necessary to complete the meeting’s objective. However, Cook recommends that employers allow employees who are interested in a meeting to attend, while letting those who do not have time skip the meeting.

Your client should also consider beforehand whether or not to allow multi-tasking during the meeting. Answering emails and browsing the web on either a smartphone or a laptop could add unwelcome distractions that interfere with the meeting’s effectiveness. If employees do not need to focus on the meeting discussion or objectives, then they probably do not need to be there. On the other hand, allowing employees to check messages during a meeting can reduce the stress meetings sometimes generate on employees.

To learn more about effective meetings, go to the HR Support Center and select the training “Effective Meetings” under the Training & Education tab.

Tools for affiliates
For HRAnswerLink affiliates, tools like the Training On-Demand video Effective Meetings not only help your existing clients but offer a great selling point for new clients, explains Cook. “Having ”softer” business management training topics is helpful for affiliates because many of your clients and prospective clients are new business owners or new to management. Many clients are new to these roles, and having management and leadership training topics helps them to succeed and be better leaders,” says Cook.

The Training On-Demand library in the HR Support Center’s Training and Education section helps you provide that additional value your clients are looking for. You can point them to a helpful, practical resource that improves their knowledge of HR topics and boosts their management skills.

We encourage you to take Training On-Demand for a test drive by clicking on the “Training and Education” tab in the HR Support Center. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Alicia Ness in the Client Experience Department at any time.
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