The Importance of Hard and Soft Data Points in Employee Wellbeing Surveys

The Importance of Hard and Soft Data Points in Employee Wellbeing Surveys

March 20, 2024

In the quest to foster a thriving workplace environment, understanding the multifaceted nature of employee wellbeing is paramount.

One of the most effective tools at an organisation's disposal is the employee wellbeing survey. However, the true power of these surveys lies not just in asking questions but in the type of data they gather.

This blog post delves into the critical differences between hard and soft data points and highlights why utilising both in combination is essential for a comprehensive understanding of employee wellbeing.

Understanding Hard and Soft Data Points

At its core, employee wellbeing encompasses a range of factors from physical health to job satisfaction, making it a complex subject to measure.

This complexity is where the distinction between hard and soft data points becomes invaluable.

Hard Data Points: The Quantifiable Metrics

Hard data points are the backbone of objective measurement in surveys.

They provide quantifiable, numeric answers to specific questions, such as "On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your current job satisfaction?" or "How many days per week do you feel stressed at work?".

These data points offer a clear, measurable way to assess certain aspects of employee wellbeing, allowing organisations to benchmark progress, identify trends, and make comparisons over time.

Soft Data Points: The Qualitative Insights

While hard data shines in measurement, soft data points illuminate the context and nuances behind these numbers.

Collected through open-ended questions, soft data invites employees to share their experiences, opinions, and suggestions in their own words.

Questions like "What aspects of your job do you find most satisfying?" or "Can you describe a situation that made you feel stressed at work?" offer invaluable insights into the reasons behind the hard data metrics, providing depth and understanding that numbers alone cannot convey.

The Importance of Combining Hard and Soft Data Points

Comprehensive Insights

Using both hard and soft data points in employee wellbeing surveys ensures a holistic view of the workforce's health.

While hard data might tell you that job satisfaction rates are declining, soft data can explain why employees feel that way, whether it's due to workload, lack of recognition, or poor management practices.

This combination allows organisations to not only identify issues but understand them on a deeper level, facilitating more targeted and effective interventions.

Informed Decision-Making

The blend of quantitative and qualitative data aids in making informed decisions.

Hard data provides the evidence base to highlight areas of concern or success, while soft data offers the qualitative insights needed to craft nuanced solutions.

Together, they enable a more strategic approach to improving employee wellbeing, ensuring that initiatives are not just well-intentioned but also well-informed and tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the workforce.

Enhanced Employee Engagement

Incorporating open-ended questions into wellbeing surveys signals to employees that their voices are valued beyond mere statistics.

By providing a platform for employees to share their personal experiences and insights, organisations can foster a sense of involvement and engagement.

This not only enriches the data collected but also strengthens the employee-employer relationship, contributing to a culture of trust and openness.

Continuous Improvement

The dynamic interplay between hard and soft data facilitates a cycle of continuous improvement in workplace wellbeing initiatives.

Hard data points highlight the need for action, while soft data points guide the development of those actions.

As initiatives are implemented, ongoing surveys can monitor progress through new hard data while gathering feedback on their effectiveness via soft data, creating a feedback loop that drives sustained improvement.


In the landscape of employee wellbeing, the integration of hard and soft data points in surveys presents a powerful approach to understanding and enhancing the employee experience.

By capturing both the measurable aspects and the human experiences of work life, organisations can gain a nuanced understanding of their workforce's wellbeing.

This balanced approach empowers employers to make evidence-based, empathetic decisions that address the tangible and intangible factors affecting employee wellbeing, ultimately cultivating a healthier, more engaged workplace.

Suggested reading: Cost-Effective Employee Wellbeing Programmes