Cues and Clues: Interpreting Employee Engagement through Body Language

In all seriousness, picking up on the cues and clues provided by your employees’ body language and nonverbal behaviors can be a great indicator of engagement in the workplace.

Take a look around your office, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does a team member come into work on time or are they habitually late?
  • Does a team member greet others with positive (smile) or negative (frown) energy?
  • Does a team member work with purpose or with minimal effort?
  • Does a team member freely offer ideas or do they just do what is asked

These are a few simple signs, actions, and reactions that can be interpreted in the nonverbal behaviors of your employees. Any one item in isolation is common and expected, but when one or more become the norm you may have an engagement problem.

Engaged employees are always approachable, often animated, and usually friendly. They make suggestions, offer ideas, and want to be asked their opinion. They feel valued and care about their job and the company.

Observing behaviors as poised by the above cues and clues of body language can be one of the simplest, cheapest ways to interpret employee engagement in the workplace.  Of course, these may not be true to every individual, but they do provide a starting point for understanding whom and when you need to connect with your employees.

Sometimes the best pick-me-up for a team member that may have become disengaged, is to simply recognize them and let them know what they have done in their role that you appreciate. A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘way to go!’ can bring them back to the engaged side and reinforce that their contributions matter. Of course, you should also recognize and appreciate your engaged team members. Those are teachable moments to show others what you and the company value.

The cues may not be overt or obvious, like drooling employees or an influx of cat videos, but keep your eyes and ears peeled for subtle indicators of disengagement. It is the simplest way to tune into your employees’ needs, and to begin to address what they are not getting. Sometimes something a simple thank-you can be all they need to refocus, and to become re-inspired.

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