Almost half of British employees find meetings stressful


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The biggest meeting-related fears included being humiliated in front of colleagues, outdone by peers, or being sacked

Half (48%) of British employees are experiencing daily stress and anxiety during and after their working day due to company meetings, according to research from Direct Blinds.

The survey of 2,500 workers found that 26% of employees were spending an average of 40 minutes in each meeting, which meant they were being paid more than £4,300 a year to do so. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) respondents said they had at least one meeting daily.

The Millennial generation (those aged 18 to 34) suffered the highest levels of meeting-related stress, with 52% reporting this.

Employees' biggest meeting-related fears included being humiliated in front of colleagues, outdone by peers, or being sacked. The survey found that the design of modern offices could be adding to this anxiety, with 27% of those polled stating that open-plan layouts with glass-walled meeting rooms added to their anxiety.

As part of the survey respondents were asked about inappropriate subjects that come up in work meetings. One recalled being asked if she was pregnant, another was told to “keep [their] mouth shut and go make some coffees”, and another was told to enquire about getting their old job back.

Richard Watkins, founder of collaboration experts Let's Go, suggested that organisations try to rethink meetings to make them more useful.

"We need to give working sessions room to breathe, meetings where options are explored and decisions made," he told HR magazine. "You can't do any work in 30 minutes, because it takes the mind time to focus, and by slicing up complex problems into tiny chunks we lose any sense of progress. In two hours you can really bite into a problem and leave with simple proposals and clear decisions; focusing for half a day or a day can demolish weeks of meetings in one hit.

"However, this only works with strong facilitation, small groups, and the right experience and influence in the room, and is only worth investing in on important complex problems that need alignment."

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