Organizational design is a key issue for every business leader. While there may be differences in approach to that design, all tend to agree on one thing: the right strategy and work structure are critical components that shape everything from company culture to the day-to-day experiences of employees. It’s common knowledge: When employees are engaged, they are happier, more work gets done, and as a result, companies prosper.

When employees are disengaged, however, the opposite is true: Not only do businesses start to perform poorly, but top talent gets restless. People start looking for their next career moves instead of looking at how they can support the company toward its goals.

With that in mind, every business leader should be doing everything they can to ensure not only that employees are happy, but also that they have as few performance roadblocks in their paths as possible.

Why Do People Leave Companies?

When talking about the relationship between engagement and retention, the conversation tends to be dominated by culture. After all, we all know people generally leave their jobs because of bad bosses and negative workplace cultures.

Except that’s not strictly true. Sure, bad managers and toxic cultures tend to lead to high turnover, but there are many other reasons why people leave, including internal obstacles to their career success and happiness. In one Payscale study, 27 percent of respondents said they chose their new company because of the opportunity to do more meaningful work.

At Doodle, we’re keenly aware of the importance of meaningful work — especially as it relates to meetings. When employees have better, more meaningful meetings, they can free up more of their time to do the work that matters to them and their companies.

The Cost of Bad Meetings

When considering how to keep employees engaged, business leaders often turn to connectedness and giving people the tools they need to be more productive. Meetings, a critical part of your team members’ day-to-day work lives, often go overlooked.

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Unfortunately, the pain associated with bad meetings isn’t adequately addressed by modern workplace tools like Jira, Slack, or G Suite. This is especially true if your team has to deal with clients, contractors, and other outside parties who don’t operate on the same tech stack as your organization.

A recent study commissioned by Doodle found that most top employees spend upwards of 20 percent of the working week attending meetings. Add in the amount of time spent planning, scheduling, and organizing meetings, and it’s clear that we’re looking at an area that is ripe for improvement — and those improvements could have powerful effects on productivity and employee engagement.

Not convinced these costs add up? The same study found that, in 2018 alone, unnecessary or poorly organized meetings cost companies in the US $399 billion. Imagine the economic boost that could be achieved if we could harness just a fraction of that wasted potential.

How to Run Better Meetings

There are two main factors to consider when thinking about how to improve meetings across your organization: time spent arranging and attending meetings and the quality of the work meetings facilitate. Here are two key ways leaders can help to inculcate a more positive, meaningful approach to meetings throughout their organizations:

1. Create Shared Norms Around Scheduling Meetings

A major piece of the puzzle when trying to reduce wasted time and effort is to consider whether meetings are absolutely necessary. In many cases, meetings are called without any set agenda or to discuss information that could simply have been shared in an email.

By setting an expectation throughout your organization that meetings should only be used when there is a clear purpose and a reason for everyone involved to attend, you can help to reduce the number of hours your employees waste in any given week.

2. Create Shared Norms Around Attending Meetings

Creating a culture where participants know that a high threshold exists for setting a meeting will benefit your organization in two ways. First, it will lead to fewer meetings, and the meetings that do occur will be better planned and more productive.

Second, it will reduce no-shows and encourage meaningful participation. When you have developed a culture that respects employees’ time, people will view the meetings they are expected to attend as important and prepare accordingly. They’ll do research in advance, remember to attend, arrive on time, and remain present and involved while the meetings are underway.

Creating a more productive meeting culture within your organization won’t be easy, but it is a worthwhile undertaking. By freeing your employees from hours of wasted time each week, you are giving them more time to pursue meaningful activities within their jobs on a daily basis, which is beneficial for everyone.

Jared Blank is the CMO of Doodle.

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