Working or Wasting Time? Korn Ferry Survey Shows Too Many Meetings and Calls are Preventing Professionals from Getting the Job Done

Editor’s Note: Survey Results at Bottom of Release

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Meetings and calls. They are daily rituals at most workplaces, but according to a new Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) survey of professionals, the quality and quantity of those gatherings may be putting a damper on productivity.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents say that spending too much time in meetings and on calls distracts them from making an impact at work.

More than a third (34 percent) say they waste between 2-5 hours per week on calls or meetings that don’t accomplish anything.

Thirty-five percent say that they’d go to a meeting even if they knew it wasn’t going to be productive, instead of declining the meeting.

“Too often, the answer to any work issue is ‘let’s meet.’ While collaboration is absolutely what drives innovation and success in today’s global marketplace, it’s time to get creative with how we use our time together,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Cathi Rittelmann. “Meetings aren’t necessarily bad, but the way we prep and lead them can sometimes derail productivity. The bottom line is this: clear objectives, an agenda and identified roles never go out of style.”

When asked what scenario leads to the greatest impact at work, the majority of respondents (64 percent) said 1:1 conversations with a colleague. Only 16 percent say meetings and calls had the greatest impact.

For more than half (54 percent) of respondents, less than 70 percent of their workday is spent accomplishing productive work tasks.

And while approximately half (49 percent) say they feel judged professionally by the number of hours they spend on the job, they say all work and no play isn’t effective. Eighty-seven percent say that taking periodic breaks throughout the day makes them more productive, even if they are spending less time on actual work.

About the survey
The Korn Ferry survey of 1,945 professionals took place in October and November 2019.

Survey Results

If you were invited to a meeting or call and believed it would not be a productive use of your time would you:

Decline the invitation

65 percent

Attend the meeting or call anyway

35 percent


Does spending too much time in meetings and on calls distract you from making an impact at work?

Yes to a great extent

16 percent

Yes to some extent

51 perent

No to some extent

25 percent

No to a great extent

7 percent


What scenario leads to the greatest impact at work?

Meetings and calls

16 percent

1:1 conversations with a colleague

64 percent

Working independently

20 percent


How many hours per week do you spend attending unproductive meetings and calls?

None: All my meetings/calls are productive

11 percent


34 percent


34 percent


15 percent

More than 10

6 percent


How much of your day is spent on productive work tasks?

All of it

8 percent

About 90 percent

38 percent

About 70 percent

31 percent

About half

20 percent

Less than half

3 percent


Do you feel you are judged professionally by the number of hours you work?


49 percent


51 percent


Do you think taking breaks from work tasks during the day makes you more productive, even if you are spending less time doing the actual work?


87 percent


13 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.

Tracy Kurschner

Source: Korn Ferry