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How to Calculate Meeting Costs: A Breakdown

See how much your meetings are costing your company and explore our tips for how you can turn every meeting into a productive work session.

By Brier Cook  •   September 5, 2023  •   7 min read

Picture this: You head to the office on Monday morning feeling stressed. As a manager, you know that the best way to make decisions and delegate work is by hosting regular meetings with your employees. Scheduling regular team sessions and one-on-ones made your team more productive for a while, but you’ve recently noticed that you’re hosting more meetings than ever. Most meetings nowadays lack structure and specific objectives and leave your employees feeling overwhelmed with little time left to complete other tasks. You’ve noticed that your team is missing deadlines and your formerly enthusiastic colleagues are dreading team sessions. It’s time to make some changes! 

On one hand, when scheduled appropriately, meetings can be a manager’s greatest tool. Too many meetings, on the other hand, can negatively impact a team’s productivity and cost your company thousands. 

Read on to see how you can calculate the cost of your meetings, view why it’s important to regularly calculate meeting costs, and see how you can use Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator to determine where to cut costs and improve team efficiency.

What is the cost of meetings? 

The term “meeting costs” refers to a calculation of the money and resources required to prepare for and run a meeting. The cost of a meeting can be calculated by assessing a few different metrics including employee costs, software costs, and meeting return on investment (ROI). 

For instance, if you want to calculate your employee costs per meeting, you can take the average hourly salary of an employee and multiply it by the number of attendees. If three employees each make $50/hour and they have a one-hour meeting, that meeting will cost your company $150. 

$150 may not seem like much to a large company, but regularly hosting large nonessential meetings can be costly for organizations. In a CBS news article, Professor G. Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that companies could save $2.5 million per year by eliminating unnecessary meetings. Hosting too many meetings wastes valuable employee time that could instead be used to complete tasks and work toward team objectives. 

Lower your meeting costs

Did you know that people who use Fellow spend 16% less time in meetings? Gather in Fellow to host productive team meetings and meaningful one-on-ones as well as build collaborative agendas, record decisions, and deliver important feedback.

Why is the cost of your meetings important? 

Time is your most valuable asset. Each time you think of scheduling a meeting, evaluate whether the cost of the meeting will be worth the outcome you’re hoping to achieve. In episode 76 of the Supermanagers podcast, Steven Rogelberg, author of The Surprising Science of Meetings, explains how leaders can improve listening, positivity, and engagement during meetings to ensure the company gets an ROI for its meeting costs. 

Rogelberg explains that the cost of a bad meeting is more than a dollar figure. The cost of a bad meeting can also be disengaged or frustrated employees who feel unprepared to tackle their action items. The cost of regular ineffective meetings can be meeting recovery syndrome—rumination or disappointment that hurts attendees’ overall productivity post-meeting. 

The good news is that research shows the smaller and more cost-effective the meeting, the more engaged participants will be. Rogelberg uses the term “social loafing” to describe how employees may feel less obligated to participate meaningfully in larger groups. To avoid social loafing, meeting hosts should keep sessions to eight attendees or less. 

Develop a meeting planning checklist that you can double-check before sending out meeting invitations. Include questions on the checklist like: “What is my ideal meeting outcome?”, “What role does each individual have in this meeting?”, and “Am I looking for a discussion, or am I looking for deliverables?” Then, decide whether the meeting is worth the time, money, and resources required to host it. 

“With intentionality, you can turn your meetings into efficient, engaging, and inclusive events”

Steven Rogelberg

How to calculate the cost of meetings

Meeting setup expenses

Calculate your meeting setup expenses by making a list of all the expenses your meetings entail. These costs will remain the same regardless of how frequently you meet but should give you a picture of how much the average one-hour meeting costs your company. 

Setup expenses may include the cost of any digital tools like video conferencing software, hardware costs like the equipment in your meeting boardroom, and the cost of operating within your office space among other miscellaneous costs. Find out how much these expenses are annually, and divide that cost by the number of hours in your work week. 

Meeting attendees’ hourly salary

The true cost of your meetings is your attendees’ time. Calculating the average salary of your meeting attendees will show you how much a meeting time is costing your business. 

Let’s say you want to calculate the cost of an hour-long brainstorming session at your company with three colleagues: one director with a $200,000 yearly salary, a manager with a $100,000 salary, and an associate with a $50,000 salary. Divide the total salary of each employee attending your meeting by the number of weeks and hours they work in one year to determine their hourly rate. 

For example, the calculation for the director attendee might be: 

$200,000 yearly salary / 52 weeks per year / 40 hours per work week = $96.15 hourly rate

Once you have each employee’s hourly rate, add them together to determine the cost of your meeting. In this case, the one-hour brainstorming session with these three employees would cost the company around $168 in salaries alone. 

Meeting duration and occurrence

The meeting duration and occurrence cost combines all of the information you’ve previously calculated to find out the true cost of the meeting. The formula is as follows:

Yearly Meeting Cost = ([Duration of meeting] X [Occurences]) X ([Hourly Setup Cost] X [Attendee Hourly Sum]) 

In our last example, we determined that the cost of an hour-long brainstorming session with three different colleagues at your company is $168. Assuming the hourly setup cost is $5, the duration is one hour, and the group is planning to meet once a week for a year, we can plug this information into the formula.

= (1) X (5+168) 

= $173/meeting

Then, we can multiply the cost per meeting by the number of meetings that will occur in one year. Since the group is planning to meet weekly, there will be 52 meetings. 

= (1) X (52) X (5+168) 

=  $8996/year

The meeting duration and occurrences cost is $8,996 annually. Use this formula to find out your own yearly meeting costs—better yet, easily see how much it costs to bring your team together using Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator

Why Fellow made a meeting cost calculator  

Fellow is on a mission to make every meeting effective and our Meeting Cost Calculator helps us further this goal! We developed this tool so you can make educated decisions about what meetings you host, how frequently you host them, and who should be there. Quickly assess the cost of each meeting, see how many employee hours your meetings are using, and see what the costs of your meetings are per week and year with our tool. Plus, if you want to automatically know the cost of each of your meetings without doing the work, Fellow has also made a built-in meeting cost calculator as part of Fellow’s new Meeting Guidelines. Fellow estimates the cost of your meeting directly in Google Calendar, so you can right-size every meeting.

Parting advice

Imagine this: You head to the office on a Monday morning feeling prepared to tackle the work week. For the first time in months, your calendar isn’t overburdened with unnecessary meetings and you even have free time in your schedule to work on new projects. Since you and your team have learned how to calculate the cost of each meeting, everyone has been intentional when sending meeting invitations. You’ve noticed that employees are showing up prepared and morale is high during each session. Your team is hosting fewer, more productive meetings that everyone looks forward to attending. Success! 

Meetings should never slow down your team. When facilitated intentionally, great meetings are an opportunity to collaborate on projects, share new ideas, provide feedback, and facilitate open communication. They’re also an effective way to help teammates better understand their objectives and responsibilities. The next time you’re unsure of whether to schedule a team session or one-on-one, calculate the cost of the meeting using Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator. 

With a bit of insight and purpose, your meeting productivity will skyrocket and your meeting costs will plummet too!

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