How to track workforce analytics on a budget

Workforce analytics has become an industry unto itself, with expensive and sophisticated software applications promising to revolutionise data collection and productivity. However, you can improve your organisation’s approach to wellbeing data recording and analysis without breaking the bank.

While there are many benefits to investing in software applications to improve workforce analytics, it’s also possible for businesses to leverage their existing resources (as well as using some free ones) to help them measure and improve their workforce’s performance.

In this article, we explore the fundamentals of what's needed for tracking your employee wellbeing, satisfaction, and engagement and how these relate to improved productivity. We also advise how workforce wellbeing analytics can be achieved using existing company metrics or by collecting new data through simple, budget-friendly resources.

What does workforce analytics mean?

Workforce analytics, or HR analytics, refers to gathering human resources data. This could mean the tracking of employee:

  • demographics
  • salary
  • absence
  • satisfaction
  • retention/turnover
  • recruitment costs
  • engagement
  • training
  • appraisal grading

Essentially workforce analytics can be any piece of information that’s important to understanding and measuring your people to ensure the company is compliant, employees are productive and that people management is effective. The data can be used to set KPIs for making improvements and act as an early warning to identify worrying trends like low employee satisfaction or high turnover.

How important are wellbeing analytics within workforce analytics?

There is a well-researched link between wellbeing and productivity.

The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Productivity found that poor mental and physical health both contribute to lost productivity, with poor mental health actually causing more issues in the workplace as people can sometimes be reluctant to admit that they have an issue. High levels of stress and burnout were particular problems, although resilience and stress management training were effective at improving productivity.

A study in Management Science found a link when measuring wellbeing and productivity in a comprehensive six-month survey of nearly 2,000 BT workers, finding that a one-point increase in happiness could lead to a 12% increase in productivity.

The research is so compelling that the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work has “urged businesses to measure employee wellbeing to help improve workforce happiness, productivity, and the overall health of the national economy”.

Wellbeing analytics is therefore a vital measure to be included in workforce analytics and should be reviewed at the highest level to improve profitability.

How can businesses track workforce wellbeing analytics on a budget?

Some HR tools can come with a hefty price tag, which might seem off-putting for a business trying to operate on a budget. By auditing existing metrics, as well as conducting employee wellbeing surveys and running internal focus groups, you’ll be able to build a solid base of workforce metrics with which you can observe trends and make practical steps for improving wellbeing and performance.

Audit existing metrics

A good place to start is a review of the existing metrics that you can already track, either through your existing HR or CRM systems or even in records such as spreadsheets.

HR data is the foundation of workforce analytics. This includes information such as employee turnover or absence levels. This data can be used to identify trends to help spot issues within the workplace, such as rising sickness levels or a high turnover in certain job roles. By reviewing your current people data, you might also spot gaps or identify areas where you feel you should be gathering more data. For example, do you know what percentage of your workforce experiences stress or burnout?

It’s also worth considering that not all data may be kept within HR. Your sales and marketing teams will have key performance data, such as where leads and revenue are coming from. While this doesn’t relate to wellbeing per se, it may be worth correlating sales performance with other employee wellbeing metrics. If you’re able to use data to show key decision makers that happy employees generate more sales, then it will help to make the case for further investment in wellbeing, such as employee wellbeing benefits and staff training. Auditing your existing metrics will help you create new processes to ensure that you capture this information in the future.

Employee wellbeing surveys

While it's likely that you'll have the fundamental staff information like headcount, turnover and salaries, you may be lacking more detailed information that relates specifically to employee wellbeing.

Understanding how your employees feel about their work environment is crucial to workforce analytics. Employee wellbeing surveys can help you gauge job satisfaction, work-life balance, and workplace stress levels. Making these surveys anonymous allows people to be honest about issues that they might otherwise find difficult.

Employee surveys also don’t have to cost a penny – the information can be gathered by constructing a simple online survey, using free tools such as Google Forms. Or you might want to talk to your marketing team about survey tools they are using with external audiences.

Examples of wellbeing questions to ask might include:


  • Have you experienced feelings of stress or burnout in the last three months?
  • Does your role interfere with your personal or family life?
  • Are you able to switch off outside of the work environment?
  • How comfortable and safe do you feel at work?
  • Do you feel any pain or discomfort due to your working posture?
  • Have you ever come to work when you didn’t feel well enough?
  • Are you aware of current wellbeing initiatives and do you use them?

Role and Management

  • Do you have control over your workload?
  • Do you feel supported by your manager?
  • Does your manager give you helpful feedback on your work performance?
  • Does your role give you opportunities for professional development?
  • Do you feel you can speak openly to senior management about any issues you may have in the workplace?
  • Do you believe that you receive fair pay and benefits?
  • Do you believe that your knowledge and skills are made full use of?

Culture and Engagement

  • Do you feel inspired by our vision, mission and values?
  • Do you feel that this is a diverse and inclusive environment?
  • Do you read company updates, such as the newsletter?
  • Do you have a support network of colleagues at work?
  • Would you recommend this as a good place to work?
  • Do you believe that we have a transparent and open culture?

Internal focus groups

While surveys can provide invaluable quantitative data, focus groups can help you understand the ‘why’ behind the numbers. They allow for open-ended discussions, which might reveal deeper insight that you might not otherwise get from a survey. It can be worth using someone external to the business or to the HR department to run these so that attendees feel they can be more honest.

As well as giving you deeper insights into how your employees are feeling, internal focus groups also have the added bonus of helping with staff engagement as it’s a proactive way of hearing their views and letting them know that their opinions are listened to. It also demonstrates that you value their contribution and that as an employer you are actively working to make improvements to their wellbeing.

Always feed back

Whatever you do, you must ensure that you feedback the results of any surveys and focus groups and set out a clear action plan. Response rates will drop dramatically if people feel that you are just using them as a tick-box exercise.

How Altruist can help

Altruist Enterprises has helped more than 500 organisations understand their workforce better, guiding them in identifying and addressing mental health issues to increase their teams' welfare and productivity.

If you need to analyse where you are now as a basis for reviewing or establishing an effective mental wellbeing strategy, contact us about our Workplace Wellbeing Audit service.

We also have two free tools which can help with your current and future wellbeing provision:

If you want to discuss any other aspects of mental wellbeing, including training contact us via the website, call us on 0121 271 0550 or email us

Katie Buckingham

Katie founded Altruist Enterprises in 2013. Since then, she has grown Altruist into a nationwide provider of mental health and resilience training. Katie is a seasoned public speaker and innovator of bespoke mental health courses. In 2022, Katie won the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize awarded by Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Judge Business School.

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