Is Meeting Overwhelm in Your Organisation a Myth? Maybe! 8 Definitive Ways to Find Out

Today, more than ever, professionals often find themselves caught in a whirlwind of meetings and the term back-to-back meetings has taken on a new meaning when the next meeting often starts before your current one as finished.

While some argue that meetings are essential for collaboration and decision-making, others claim that excessive meetings can lead to burnout and hinder productivity. The question arises: is meeting overwhelm a myth? Let’s explore this topic and delve into how Microsoft’s Viva Glint and Insights can provide valuable insights to help organisations and individuals navigate the meeting landscape more effectively.

Meeting Overwhelm Stats:

One common perception is that when employee report feeling overwhelmed at work that they are referring to the number of meetings they have to attend, which stops them from completing their ‘actual work’. For some this is true, as shown in research stating that 70% of all meetings keep employees from working and completing their tasks and at least 37% of employees consider unproductive meetings to be the highest cost to their organisation.

We do know that the volume of meetings has increased by 13% since pre pandemic times, largely due to the new hybrid nature of work and not always being able to swivel your desk chair around and have a quick five-minute yarn.

This increase of meetings can have a tangible and expensive impact on a teams ability to maintain productivity, as distractions threaten work output. In fact, according to a University of California Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task, with professionals rating meetings as the “number one office productivity killer.”

… But, is it always the case?

“We have worked with several customers who hypothesised that meetings where the root cause of overwhelm for all employees but when we looked into the data, we found that the average hours spent in meetings was relatively low, between 5-10 hours per week. There are also major outliers, executives and managers in global roles spend as much as 30 hours a week in meetings, so it should be looked at on a case by case basis.”

Kat Olsen, Principal Consultant at Rapid Circle

Understanding Collaboration and Meeting Dynamics with Viva Insights:

Microsoft Viva Insights is a powerful tool designed to provide organisations and individuals with valuable data-driven insights into work patterns, productivity, and employee well-being. Leaders can access the data via popular collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams as well as through advanced analytics PowerBI reports and custom queries.

Viva Insights offers a holistic view of collaboration and meeting-related data. These insights can help debunk the myth of meeting overwhelm by shedding light on the underlying factors that contribute to unproductive meetings. Viva Insights provides analytics on meeting hours, focus time, after-hours collaboration, and other key metrics.

For instance, organisations can identify patterns of back-to-back meetings that hinder individual productivity and well-being. By visualising the data, individuals and teams can make informed decisions on meeting schedules, allowing for more effective time management and reducing meeting fatigue.

image 12

Glint: Employee Sentiment and Engagement:

Gathering employee sentiments, also referred to as perception data, through surveys has become increasingly popular in the last few years.

Beyond the qualitative data provided by Viva Insights, Viva Glint can amongst other things help organisations gauge employee sentiment and engagement related to work overwhelm and meetings. By leveraging features like pulse surveys and feedback mechanisms, Glint empowers employees to share their experiences and opinions regarding the impact and effectiveness of meetings.

With Glint, organisations can gather valuable qualitative insights on what is contributing to feelings of overwhelm and meeting practices. The questions ask can be focus on both identifying pain points and areas for improvement. By actively involving employees in the conversation, organisations can create a culture of open communication, allowing individuals to voice their concerns and suggestions for optimising meeting experiences.

image 11

Optimising Meetings for Productivity:

By combining the quantitative insights from Viva Insights with the qualitative feedback gathered through Glint, organisations can take proactive steps to combat work overwhelm and increase meeting effectiveness. Here are a few strategies that can be employed:

  1. Understand the root cause of overwhelm: Deep dive into the collaboration and meeting data available in Viva Insights to understand actual time spent in meetings for different teams and compare this to the employee sentiment around meetings and overwhelm. This will provide you with a more holistic understand of what the problem actually is.
  2. Understand your meetings: Analyse meeting data using Viva Insights to identify recurring patterns of inefficiency, such as excessive duration or unnecessary attendees.
  3. Provide meeting etiquette guidelines and facilitation training: By creating company meeting etiquette guidelines and providing facilitation training to manager and meeting leaders will support the behaviour changes need to ensure meetings are focused, well-structured, engaging and have clear objectives.
  4. Empower Individuals with Choice: Allow employees to have a say in their meeting schedules whenever possible. Consider flexible alternatives like asynchronous communication or designated focus time to foster deep work and minimise distractions. It is also important to foster a culture of inclusivity and psychological safety to enable meaningful contributions.
  5. Provide solutions for other causes of overwhelm: Deep time into the collaboration trends and employee survey data to understand what causes the overwhelm for the employees not affected by meeting overload. Ensure effective strategies are put in place to help alleviate these challenges as well.
  6. Promote Effective Collaboration: Leverage collaboration tools and features within Microsoft Teams and M365 to encourage more asynchronous communication and collaboration. It’s important to not assume that employees know how to work effectively in this way and training and support should be provided to enable them to embrace modern ways of working. Working more effectively together will go a long way in reducing overwhelm for all employees no matter the number of meeting they attend.
  7. Utilise the tool available: Encourage individual and leaders to use the functionality available in Viva Insights, Teams, Loop and other M365 tool to improve ways of working and meeting effectiveness.
  8. Continual Feedback and Iteration: Regularly solicit employee feedback through pulse surveys or other dedicated channels. Use these insights in combination with collaboration and meetings trends from Viva Insights to refine meeting practices, address concerns, and ensure ongoing improvement.

What we think:

Work overwhelm is a multifaceted challenge that impacts productivity and employee well-being. However, with the right tools and strategies in place, organisations can navigate the collaboration and meeting landscape effectively.

Microsoft Viva Insights and Glint offer valuable data-driven insights and employee feedback, allowing organisations to identify areas of improvement, optimises collaboration, work and meeting practices, and foster a culture of productivity and engagement. If you’re interested in exploring your Modern Work practices, Rapid Circle is here to help!

“Remember, meeting overwhelm may or may not be a myth, depending on who you are asking, but with the help of these powerful tools, it can become a challenge that organisations are well-equipped to tackle, ultimately leading to more productive and fulfilling work experiences for all.”

Kat Olsen, Principal Consultant at Rapid Circle

Related Posts

Handpicked content
Want to go deeper? Talk to one of the Rapid Circle team

Wilco Turnhout

Co-Founder (NL/EU)

Andrew Fix

Andrew Fix

Chief Technology Officer (AU/NZ)