The number of employees working in a division at any given time is a calculated decision. A company’s human resources department uses a number of measurements in an effort to make this decision wisely. Some of these measurements are numeric-based while others are qualitative. Both work in tandem to give those responsible for staffing a complete picture of the company’s needs.

Quantitative Measures

Quantitative, or numerical, measures provide a yardstick by which to hire the appropriate number of workers. An example is a ratio-based system in which management uses a top-down or bottom-up approach to determine staffing levels. In this case, managers determine that for every supervisor the division will require 15 workers to complete the necessary tasks.

Qualitative Measures

Staffing is also a qualitative decision, typically conducted at the micro level. Though a human resource manager unfamiliar with every employee could not make this judgment call, a supervisor may assess that her best worker is capable of handling phone queries and data entry. Thus, staffing decisions regarding internal promotions are almost always made using qualitative measurements of attitude, work ethic and know-how. Because qualitative measurements assist managers with determining gaps in ability but provide no scope to the problem, both qualitative and quantitative measurements are necessary.

Forecasting Measures

Staffing forecasters use a number of measurements to predict the number of workers to hire. Examples include gauging the demand reflected in past sales data and reviewing the month’s current earnings. Staffing management also reviews the needs of specific departments. While some divisions will shrink based on the evolution of the industry, others will need more workers. For instance, a company may need to hire fewer data entry workers thanks to technological upgrades but hire more analysts in its research and development department.


Sometimes, no measure adequately prepares organizations for unexpected events that alter staffing needs. When a tsunami ravages a city in Asia, for instance, devastated hotels issue layoffs almost immediately. Sometimes a spike in demand is caused from a fortuitous event, such as a well-known celebrity wearing a T-shirt sold by the company. In the event of uncertainty or instability, some businesses disregard long-term staffing projections and hire on a short-term, contractor basis.