THE BLOG
08/05/2013 12:57 pm ET | Updated Oct 05, 2013

3 Hidden Dangers That Are Sucking the Profits Out Of Your Business

Most people will agree with me that there are certain business practices that have been proven over and over again to be very effective. For example, it is well known in the business world that if you engage your employees and provide a fun work environment, you can inspire their creativity and achieve increased profits from the innovation.

This sounds great in theory, but it isn't always easy to put this into practice. There are constant pressures on you and your employees to continually be productive, personal issues that get in the way, and uncertainties in the economy that often overflow into the workplace.

What makes matters worse is that some of the most proven time management and productivity practices seem to be lost in this technologically connected, "always-on" world that we live in.

I've done extensive research into these issues to discover what it takes to build an effective team that thrives in any economy. In the process, I came across 3 "hidden dangers" that seem to be holding most businesses back from achieving exponential growth.

In fact, I firmly believe that these hidden dangers will suck the life out of even the greatest companies in America and around the world if they are not addressed.

Let's look at these 3 hidden dangers in more detail and discuss how you can avoid them in your business.

1. Executive and Employee Stress

Stress is a real problem that affects companies of all sizes. Business owners and corporate executives generally expect to be stressed because that is just part of the job. In fact, numerous executives at large corporations have strokes every year, often because of stress. For example, Michaels CEO John Menzer and Intel VP Sean Maloney recently had strokes and retired, and the list keeps growing.

But executives aren't the only people in your company who are stressed. Your employees are stressed too, about both work and personal challenges. Yet the sad truth is that most companies never take the time to find out what their employees are stressed about.

A simple survey can easily be provided to all employees to help uncover the biggest areas of stress. Most companies that actually conduct employee surveys just ask basic questions about the company direction, management, product line, etc. They fail to dig deeper and ask employees more about their work and personal lives, and the areas that are causing them the most concern.

Once the biggest areas of stress are identified, you can then create a suitable plan to help your employees address those challenges. It is no secret that happier employees will lead to far greater productivity and loyalty. Yet it's shocking that most companies never ask their employees about what's on their minds.

2. Employee Disengagement

Another hidden danger that is sweeping the nation right now is employee disengagement.

A national study released in 2013 by Gallup, Inc. entitled "State of the American Workplace" revealed a shocking statistic that 70 percent of employees are disengaged in their jobs. Of the 70 percent that were reported to be disengaged, 18 percent were actively disengaged, and the other 52 percent were not engaged.

Think about that for a minute.

That means that 7 out of 10 people who were surveyed appear to just be going through the motions of their job like zombies.

What if your company has a similar number of disengaged "zombie" employees? Can you imagine what that's doing to your bottom line? It's definitely not good for your company or those employees.

Numerous other surveys that I found about disengagement had very similar results as those discussed in the Gallup survey, so this truly seems to be a legitimate area of concern.

The key point here is that many employees seem to be pre-occupied because of various stress factors, are simply not excited about what they're doing for the company, and/or just don't care anymore about their work quality.

You can help solve the disengagement problem by surveying your employees about what's stressing them out and then providing solutions to the challenges revealed in the survey. You can also help solve the disengagement problem by putting the proper tools and procedures in place to help your employees feel excited about the company and their role within it. I'll cover more about that momentarily.

3. Improper Goal Planning

Another hidden danger that needs to be addressed is improper (or totally lacking) goal planning procedures within a company.

It has been well documented by productivity experts over the years that those who write their goals down are far more likely to achieve them than those who do not. And that makes logical sense too. It's analogous to building a house: you would simply never imagine building a house without a blueprint.

Despite the obvious benefits, most companies fail to implement any type of goal planning procedures for their employees at all levels of the company. Sure, some project managers may have to report on team goals, but what about at the individual employee level?

Sadly, most companies never think about having employees in every position within the company set business and personal goals.

Here's something I discovered in my research on goal planning that was even more interesting. In a survey conducted by psychology professor Dr. Gale Matthews, the act of sharing goals with others has been shown to skyrocket the success results.

The survey revealed:
  • Sharing goals with peers increases your likelihood of accomplishing them by 50 percent
  • Having a friend receive weekly progress reports increases your likelihood of accomplishing your goals by 77 percent

It is therefore critical that you implement a goal planning and sharing procedure if you want your employees to thrive. In fact, by addressing all 3 of the hidden dangers I've discussed in this article, I believe that you can achieve exponential results for your company.

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