Recession points to excessive meetings and sick leave as major sources of inefficiencies

18 October 2009

HONG KONG, 19 October 2009 – During the course of Hong Kong’s economic downturn, many company inefficiencies were put under the microscope. Hong Kong’s workforce think almost one-third of the meetings they attend – 32.6% to be precise – are a waste of time, according to Robert Half’s 2009 Workplace Survey. 

Despite the fact that meetings are meant to encourage strong ideas, expedite decision-making processes and build relationships, the Robert Half survey found that Hong Kong’s labour force feels that the power to hold meetings is frequently abused.

Causes of ineffective meetings are attributed to the lack of a meeting agenda (33%), irrelevant people requested to attend the meeting (33%), attendees’ inability to remain focused on the topic (28%), uncertain reasons for holding the meeting (24%) and the absence of important stakeholders (14%).

Andrew Morris, Director of Robert Half Hong Kong says that in these uncertain times, when many companies are operating on reduced staff numbers, managers need to think carefully about why they are calling meetings and what they want to achieve.

“It’s interesting that the Workplace Survey has brought this inefficiency to light, because this is a problem that can be so easily remedied. At some companies, meetings become such a habit that no one stops to ask whether there’s even a compelling reason to hold them. But now is the time to re-evaluate your meeting schedule to determine which ones are really necessary.  Once this is done, meeting chairpersons can easily develop a straightforward agenda which will help to define objectives prior to the meeting. They should consciously invite only the most relevant participants and prepare all materials before the meeting begins.”

Robert Half’s Global Workplace Survey also revealed that employees believe taking sick leave during the economic slowdown increases their risk of being made redundant. Nearly a third (35%) of Hong Kong’s employees fear that taking sick leave damages their office reputation, and nearly 21% of respondents report that they will frequently come to work even when they are sick.

Andrew Morris draws attention to the fact that attending work when sick can present a significant cost to the business. “Hong Kong employers must remember that general illness as well as the ever-looming H1N1 also can present quite a threat to workplace productivity.  Strong managers know the best long term solution for both the company and their staff is to send their sick employees home, and to proactively encourage a healthy work/life balance.”

The study polled 6,167 executives from 20 countries in 2009. Respondents ranged from middle managers to c-suite executives in a variety of roles including finance and accounting, human resources, information technology and sales.

 

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