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Body tech

Data and technology are more important in our lives than ever. We collect data continuously and do whatever it takes to interpret them. And that is where the danger lurks: during the rush of the day, we forget to feel in addition to thinking. Creating balance and working on yourself still has a woolly connotation in a lot of organisations. At Randstad RiseSmart, they are convinced that feeling is at least as important, and can also be translated to the workplace in a rational way.

“Everything starts with collecting qualitative data,” says Gretel Vlogaert, National Manager Career Development at Randstad RiseSmart. “Making good choices about who you survey, where and when you do it and what you ultimately want to achieve with the data is hugely important before you get started. Determining your focus is crucial in this. Just collecting data because it is hip and trendy is not done today.” “Qualitative data is the data that helps you grasp your priorities with both hands,” continues her colleague Bernadette Laermans. “And we obtain the most qualitative data through our own bodies.”


Gretel: “We can no longer imagine a world without technology. Although we should not forget that humans still play the leading role. We are focused on collecting data around us, but if we want to highlight the personal development of employees and the growth of the organisation, it is time for us to listen to our own bodies too.”

“We need to use our physical body as a tool to provide us with data,” Bernadette explains. “And that is embodiment. Daring to slow down and become aware of your body. Today, we often focus on the thinking human brain that has to process all the data. In doing so, we forget that our body also sends signals and tells us exactly what we need and what to focus on. We just need to dare to take more time and space to listen to it.”

Beyond the borders

The overload of data around us means that people today are overstimulated and mental exhaustion creeps in. Bernadette: “Our senses pick up endless stimuli. Our brain gives meaning to them, converts them into an emotion and our body reacts to this immediately. We start sweating, our heart races, … The problem lies in the fact that all our attention today goes to what happens in our brain, to what we think, and we simply forget to listen to what our body actually needs.”

“We push our limits continuously to achieve more through tools and technologies,” adds Gretel. “This requires more energy than we think and, despite our bodies sending timely signals, we often ignore them. This increases the likelihood of mental tiredness. The moment you experience an overload of stimuli, you enter a kind of survival mode. You no longer manage to prioritise, you make mistakes and frustrations arise.”

Closing the door behind you after a busy day at work is not always easy. If you take time to reconnect with yourself, you can listen to what you need and use data and technology for what they were originally intended: to make life easier.

Bernadette Laermans

Bernadette: “Closing the door behind you after a busy day at work is not always easy due to digitalisation, but if you take time to reconnect with yourself, you can listen to what you need and use data and technology for what they were originally intended: to make life easier.”

Gretel: “Awareness will be needed to prevent employees from being overloaded with data by deploying AI and technology. On the other hand, data can also be an eye-opener to learn to listen to the body. After all, people often only believe that things can be better themselves when they see it in writing. In the future, objective data and the data our bodies give us should be equally important.”

Down to earth

“Feeling is therefore a physical rational process that we can no longer ignore,” Gretel continues. “By learning to understand emotions as individuals and organisations, we realise which needs have not been met. That insight allows us to respond to potential frustrations much more quickly and effectively.”

Bernadette: “To make this possible, organisations need to create a culture where, in addition to thinking, feeling also has a place. Give people time to pause and communicate clearly about the added value of a new technological tool or specific data or the purpose of a particular project. Moreover, according to research by Mehrabian, 93% of our communication is non-verbal. So, as a manager, also think about how you communicate something. By creating a safe environment, you give everyone in the organisation a chance to embrace embodiment and make the most of and develop talents.”