Business Briefs: Meeting Productivity, Meeting Fatigue & Workplace Bullying

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Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Meetings, Productivity & Mental Health

There is no shortage of contempt for office meetings. Much of the opposition to meetings, however, is presented in the absence of data that might explain why meetings are unpopular. 

Three authors of a 2022 study are addressing that data gap. As  a starting point the researchers note that 71% of managers believe that meetings are expensive and unproductive. To investigate further, they launched a study at 76 companies employing more than 1,000 people and operating in more than 50 countries.

In the pool of 76 companies:

  • 47% agreed to reduce meetings by 40%
  • 35% reduced meetings by 60%
  • 11% reduced meetings by 80%
  • 7% got rid of all meetings

Even the companies with the smallest reduction in meetings (40%) found that productivity increased by 71% and employee satisfaction increased by 52%.  

What about collaboration, meetings are still good for that, right? Welp, reducing meetings by 60% ended up improving cooperation by 55%; the authors speculated this was because employees were more likely to reach out on a one-on-one basis, and set their own agendas. 

Based on the dataset comparing the different meeting reduction strategies, the sweet spot appeared to be an 80% reduction in meetings to maximize improvement in workplace communication, engagement, satisfaction and cooperation. 

Read more here

Days Without Meetings – a Way to be Productive – B. Laker, A. Malik, P. Budhwar and V. Pereira, Centaur

Bullying & Changing Jobs

There’s no shortage of advice on coping with workplace bullying, but eradicating it altogether appears to be an ideal that is out-of-reach. In an 18 month study of 1,095 employees, researchers sought to learn what happens to bullied employees. Do they change jobs? Do they fare better in the new jobs they find? 

As it turned out , the results indicated that bullied employees are 2.5 times more likely to change jobs than non-bullied employees. For those who changed jobs, there was a noticeable decrease in their observations of bullying. They also reported much less anxiety.  Interestingly, however, no decrease in depression was observed 

Although the study’s authors caution against this conclusion, it’s too tempting to abandon: If you’re being bullied at work, finding a new job is a great solution. 

Read more here

The Last Resort: Workplace Bullying and the Consequences of Changing Jobs – Michael Rosander, Denise Salin and Stefn Blomberg, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

Online Meeting Fatigue

You may have heard that online meetings are uniquely “exhausting,” but how might that be measured? Researchers ran a couple of studies to start to figure things out.  

The first study involved 81 participants who reported attending 716 meetings during the study, 270 of the meetings were video conferences. On average, in-person meetings lasted 32 minutes, and video conferences averaged 48 minutes. Average meeting size for all types was four participants, but average video meeting size was larger, with seven participants. And supervisors were more likely to be involved in video meetings.  

Respondents reported that video meetings were more exhausting, which might be intuitive, given they last longer and have more participants.  

In the second study involving 53 people, the researchers investigated further and suggested that some the stress can be associated with lack of agreement on etiquette for participants (whether to participate, whether to multi-task, whether to use camera).

Read more here

Understanding Zoom Fatigue: A Mixed-Method Approach – Hadar Nesher Shoshan and Wilken Wehrt, Applied Psychology