With an estimated 42 percent of the U.S. labor force currently working from home full-time, your online meetings have become how you keep your workplace culture alive. Unfortunately, these same virtual meetings may also be contributing to creating a toxic workplace culture that leads to employee disengagement.
The good news is, unlike those in-person meetings held in your company’s cleverly named office conference rooms, your online meetings give you the potential to gather and measure data that can be used to identify and address potentially toxic workplace issues in the making. Here are three questions to ask your team members to weigh in on, and measure through your online meeting platform.
Do meetings start and end on time?
One meeting expert estimates managers have between 2.8 and 3.4 meetings each day, while all other employees average between .88 and 1.6 meetings per day. While some of those meetings are 1:1s between a manager and their employee, the same expert concluded that the typical meeting includes 3.5 attendees. If a manager’s salary averages out to $50 per hour, and other employees’ salaries average $20 per hour, that means a 60-minute meeting with a manager and three direct reports costs the company $110. When you start multiplying the number of high-salaried employees in a meeting, and the number of these meetings each day, meetings can quickly become one of the most expensive budget line items that no one is tracking.
When meetings are efficient and support business results, it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth calculating an ROI for your meetings. In our current environment, however, with meetings now a primary way companies collaborate on business initiatives with remote teams, knowing whether your meetings are starting and ending on time is a key metric for evaluating overall meeting health.
In addition to tracking meeting length and the percentage of meetings that start and end on time (thus making good use of all participants and their schedules), for more significant culture insights, it’s beneficial to dig in a little further to uncover valuable employee engagement insights.
Are some of your managers consistently struggling to start meetings on time? Is one leader the most frequent member of meetings that go over their scheduled endpoints? Does a team with engagement issues also suffer from employees coming into team meetings late? When looked at on a granular level, individual meeting start and end times can be key indicators of broader issues with team dynamics that can be addressed to improve employee morale.
Track this KPI: Meeting start and end times versus scheduled times
Are all the meeting attendees engaged and participating?
The past few months have been an especially emotional time for the U.S., affecting everything about our daily lives—including workplace engagement. As Gallup notes:
“In early May, engagement accelerated to a new high of 38%. And then, following the killing of George Floyd in late May and subsequent protests and riots, the percentage of engaged employees in the U.S. as measured from June 1-14 dropped to 31%.
Now, from our most recent measurement, the percentage of engaged employees — those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace — has rebounded to a new high of 40%. This surpasses the measure’s decade-long upward trajectory since Gallup began tracking the employee engagement in 2000.”
Employee engagement is a lot more than how happy your employees are with their perks and their manager. It’s also a leading business indicator. For more than a decade, Gallup has consistently found that organizations with the most highly engaged employees outperformed the lowest engaged organizations. The latest data showed the performance rates for those highly engaged organizations surpassed the lowest engaged organizations by 10% in customer loyalty, 21% in profitability, and 20% in productivity.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to get started tracking meeting engagement. Many automated recording and transcription tools already detect who is speaking and can append that information with time stamps. This allows you to assess which meeting participants were highly engaged in the conversation, and who was a passive attendee. Transcription, in particular, can also show if you have people being constantly interrupted by others, and who those interrupters are.
In addition to speaking time, other meeting engagement metrics to track include:
- Who takes and shares meeting notes?
- Which meeting organizers prepare detailed meeting agendas in advance of the meeting?
- How frequently does someone follow-up from a meeting with a summary of the agreed-upon action items?
- Are those attendees who are primarily listening providing nonverbal signs of feedback and engagement?
- Take a look at how your meeting processes and platforms can support tracking these key engagement metrics over time, to support a healthy online meeting culture.
Track this KPI: Overall and individual meeting engagement signals
Is everyone getting a chance to be heard?
A colleague recently shared how early in her career, as a communicator in a Fortune 500 company, she was frequently the youngest person in the room, and frequently the only woman in attendance. While she didn’t mind being asked to take notes and send out the post-meeting action item summary, she did mind being frequently interrupted.
“Unlike most of my female coworkers, I wasn’t afraid to interrupt the interrupter with ‘I’m not finished talking,” she says. “It feels incredibly lame to say, but it was too frustrating never to get to finish a sentence to let it slide in meeting after meeting.”
Unfortunately, her story isn’t an outlier. Gender, status, and perceived power (even just being the person who called the meeting) all affect the ability of attendees to state their points and to feel heard in meetings.
To view this through a data lens, once you have engagement statistics, your organization can consider breaking this data down by gender, race, age, role, or salary, to gain a deeper understanding of organizational meeting dynamics.
To start measuring this, when a meeting begins, ask employees to identify themselves in the meeting platform by name, job title, and role in the meeting. This would give you a starting point to understand the overall diversity of meeting participants. Depending upon your meeting platform, this data can also be applied to associated speaking time and the use of collaborative features to get an accurate picture of meeting attendees’ engagement at a deeper level than a pulse question that asks how engaged they feel in company meetings.
Track this KPI: Overlay meeting engagement data with demographic data to explore meeting diversity and inclusivity
How to Get Started Tracking Online Meeting Metrics
A good way to gain a quick understanding of how your employees feel about the online meetings they attend is to use these three questions as an anonymous employee survey. Use a consistent numeric scale across the three questions to create a baseline meeting health score. Commit to regularly asking these questions as pulse surveys, and comparing them to your baseline to gauge your success in creating a positive meeting culture.
The one drawback to using employee surveying as the basis of your meeting culture health metric is what people report is happening in meetings overall may not be 100% consistent with what is actually going on in meetings. Employees may fear reprisals from a senior leader with bad meeting manners, or let one bad meeting experience overly negatively influence their responses.
If you are using Social hour, however, whenever you host a meeting on the platform you gain access to meeting engagement data to help you answer these questions.
Hold your next team meeting in Social hour and gain fresh insight into your virtual meeting dynamics. Not a Social hour customer yet? Book a demo today.