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Who Murdered Time? Why meetings cost businesses £28 billion a year

Why meetings cost businesses £28 billion a year
14th June 2018 handh
Biz Week 2018 Article Header

Our Kay - L&D Specialist

Our L&D Specialist and Special Investigator Kay takes you on a tour of our Biz Week 2018 event in Hull to reveal Who Murdered Time in our workplace meetings…

Just five weeks into my time as Special Investigator at H&H, I was assigned a new and critical case for Humber Business Week – a high-profile murder investigation into widespread foul-play in workplaces across the world. 

The victim: Time.

So where had this heinous crime taken place? In our meetings of course!

In board rooms, offices and organisations everywhere day after day, thousands of innocent hours are unproductively ripped away from us in broad daylight. Our time is being murdered, and the price is costly. It was my job to discover why. 

The Initial Analysis

Prior to the investigation, my Biz Week colleague, Detective Inspector Michael, went undercover to conduct some crucial background research. The facts he uncovered about exactly how meetings are unjustly purging our working time are particularly shocking…

Businesses could be losing $37 (£28) billion every year thanks to unproductive meetings.

On average, UK employees spend 16 hours a week in meetings, with ¼ of this time usually going to waste. Over a career, this amounts to 9000 hours of pointless meetings – a full year and 10 days of thumb-twiddling!

47% of employees consider meetings to be the number-one time-waster at work, and 71% think meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

It was clear that there was something very, very wrong with how we’re managing our workplace meetings. But what effect is this having on the people in them? Detective Inspector Michael revealed some alarming statistics…

Bored man who's switched off in his meeting, a visual asset for H&H's Humber Business Week 2018 event

43% of UK employees regularly switch off during meetings.

34% often work on other projects during them.

And believe it or not, 21% admit to having actually fallen asleep in meetings!

But perhaps most ironically at all – 62% of employees think that meetings miss opportunities to bring teams closer together.

By now, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be as easy as Professor Plumb in the Library with the Candle Stick. It was something much more complex.

I wondered if I was up for the job. Chief Inspector Kris, overseeing the whole operation, wanted answers, Biz Week attendees wanted answers… and fast!

And so we set to work, and the investigation began…

Reconstructing the crime scene

Our first plan of action was to rendezvous at the legendary 1904 Lounge at the KCOM Stadium in our local city Hull. Joined by Detective Sergeant Louise and a team of experienced Crime Scene Investigators from across the Humber Region, we asked… “Who’s ready for a good old fashioned who dunnit?” 

Special Investigator Kay and Detective Sergeant Louise rallying the crowd at our Humber Business Week 2018 event

The answer was a resounding ‘Yes’. The Biz Week folk were no strangers to this kind of crime – they’d seen it all before! The area was cordoned off, and we got to work. We had to nail this… someone had to be brought to justice.

To catch a killer, we needed to think like one. We reconstructed the crime scene and invited the CSIs to step into the culprit’s shoes, by holding their own mock-meeting with the aim of crafting a 10-line rhyming poem about meetings. But this goal was impeded when these crack investigators began demonstrate the unproductive behaviours of the perpetrators, to get a sense of why Time was being murdered so frequently in real-life scenarios. The method acting was spectacular!

Two Biz Week Crime Scene Investigators set to work during the investigation into Who Murdered Time

We had taken our investigation one step further by identifying the characteristics of the killer… but we still didn’t understand the motives or have a potential solution in mind. So we set the CSIs another task to dig a bit deeper. It was time for an identity parade.

The Usual Suspects

Detective Constable Lewis, our psychological profiler, had built e-fits of the suspects from eye-witness statements, taken from a research survey we carried out as part of our investigation asking people what they often experienced in workplace meetings. And they looked a right motley crew! Any one of them could have been guilty of murdering time in our meetings…

The usual suspects in our line-up were: 

•    The Critic
•    The Un-Informed
•    The Over-Loaded
•    The Day Dreamer
•    The Cynic
•    The Indecisive
•    The Preoccupied
•    The Control Freak
•    The Latecomer  

The suspects in the case to decipher Who Murdered Time, for our Humber Business Week 2018 event

This time, our Biz Week CSIs needed to identify possible motives for the crime – what could be driving the unproductive behaviours of these felons? And more importantly, what could be done to change it? This killing spree was rampant and everyone was under suspicion. And we all realised that at one time or another, we’d all exhibited these behaviours ourselves, and had all been guilty of the crime! 

Prevention is better than cure

Well you know what they say… prevention is better than cure! Time had been murdered in the past; we all recognised we were never going to bring it back, but we knew we could figure out ways of preventing the crime from repeating itself.

The Biz Week CSIs identified rehabilitation was the way to go. Strategies for creating productive meetings were drafted, and actions to motivate meeting attendees and help them to work in their ‘Best Selves’ (and avoid slipping into unproductive behaviours) were drawn up. This was expert advice for the public to help keep Time safe in the future.

Our Humber Business Week Crime Scene Investigators deliberating on the case

The case drew to a close, but it had been both insightful and exhilarating. Our crack team has been dispatched to spread the word of caution when it comes to your workplace meetings. 

So what did people think to our Humber Business Week 2018 event?

At H&H we’re proud to say that year on year, our Biz Week events are incredibly well-received – with all attendees enjoying the blended mix of gamification and thought leadership and leaving with actionable insights and ideas to put in place in their own organisations. 

But don’t take our word for it – check out the delightful feedback from our 2018 event!

“Good Biz Week intro. Great networking and learning opportunity. Thanks to H&H for fun and insight.”

“Good content. Engaging activity. Well-facilitated. Thanks :)”

“Brilliant as usual. Thank you :)”

And one last word of advice – remember that some of the culprits may still be at large in your organisation… so remain vigilant, and be productive!   

Meet the authorOur Kay - L&D Specialist

Our Kay – L&D Specialist

I’ve been an L&D specialist and enthusiast for as long as I can remember, and I get a real buzz out of supporting and developing people to reach their full potential in the workplace. A lot of what I do is based around transforming behaviours to enable people to be at their productive best. I advise on the psychology and strategy behind H&H’s creative internal comms projects, so that they really make an impact and engage the organisation. 

Get to know me better and the rest of team over on our team page or connect with me on LinkedIn!

See more of what we’ve been up to at Humber Business WeekH&H Humber Business Week events

From Trivial Pursuit to Where’s Wally, our Biz Week events are packed with fun, insights, and valuable learning for workplace leaders. Get a glimpse of some of our previous workshops:

Executive Decision (Biz Week 2013)
Not a Trvial Pursuit (Biz Week 2014)
The Anatomy of an Engaged Employee (Biz Week 2016)