Employees are always in meetings these days and the popular consensus is that, at best, they’re a chore, and at worst, they’re a serious disruption to productivity. But when Steven Rogelberg and colleagues surveyed 980 employees in America and the UK, they found no association between employees’ time spent in meetings and how positive or negative they felt about their work, or how well they felt in general.
“It may be socially unacceptable to publicly claim that meetings are desirable. Instead, a social norm to complain about meetings may exist – not doing so could reflect poorly on the employee”, the researchers said.
In the first study, hundreds of employees completed an online survey that asked about the number of meetings (and time spent in meetings) they typically had in a week. In the second study, participants answered questions about meetings they’d had that same day.
Overall participants who endured more meetings were just as positive about their jobs as people who had few meetings. However, employees who reported being particularly goal driven did tend to be negatively affected by meetings. Moreover, in the first study, participants whose responsibilities didn’t require working with other people were also negatively affected by meetings. Finally, the perceived quality of meetings had an impact on employees’ attitudes in the second study but not the first, probably because they were recalling specific experiences from that same day rather than responding more generally.
“Trade literature argues that perceptions of meeting effectiveness would appear to be promoted to the extent that people come prepared to meetings, an agenda is used, meetings are punctual, purposes are clear, and there is widespread attendee participation. We recommend that organisations include such factors in good-practice guidelines for the conduct of their meetings”, the researchers said.
Rogelberg, S.G., Leach, D.J., Warr, P.B. & Burnfield, J.L. (2006). "Not another meeting!" Are meeting time demands related to employee well-being? Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 83-96.