Staffing: Personnel’s Main Function

All managers are, to some extent, personnel managers because they contribute to the effective utilisation of all resources at their disposal. Nevertheless, Obikoya observed that regardless of the size of the nature of a business, the principal responsibility of the personnel to fill all positions. The gist of the principle of staffing is that, since a manager’s job is to get work done through others, it is much easier to do one’s job if those others are very competent. It, therefore, behoves a manager to pay considerable attention to selecting and training new employees and to “shaping up” old employees.

In the book titled Management: A Global Perspective (International Edition) define the managerial function of staffing as “filling and keeping filled, positions in the organisation structure”. They argue that staffing must be closely linked to organising, that is, to the setting up of intentional structures of or less and positions.

Unlike many writers on management theory, who discuss staffing in passing and merely as a phase of organising; welcome the need to identify and treat staffing as a separate managerial function for the following reasons:

(i) Staffing should be dealt with as a separate managerial function in order to instill in practising managers the knowledge and approaches which are basic to staffing of organisational roles and which require that staffing should no longer be perceived as just setting up a structure of roles and giving little attention to filling these roles but a concept that deserves a pride of place in management literature.

(ii) Staffing should be made a separate function in order to place greater emphasis on the human elements in selection, appraisal, career planning and manger development.

(iii) Staffing should be made a separate function because the time has come to recognise that an important body of knowledge and experience which have been developed in the area of staff requires universal recognition and acceptance,

(iv) Staffing should be made a separate managerial function in order to make managers better realise that staffing is their responsibility for which the personnel department provides valuable assistance; but it is the job of managers to fill the positions in their organisation and keep them filled with qualified people.

Staffing Function

Organisation establishes the position within an organisation and assigns the duties to each. By staffing, the manager attempts to find the right person for each job. This is an ongoing managerial activity since people will quit, be promoted, be transferred, be discharged, or retired, and in the case of a growing company, new positions are created that must be filled. Staffing implies that the manager will regularly observe his subordinates’ performance to judge where they are weak and will seek to strengthen them by training.

The principal activities in the staffing function are primarily concerned with making sure that the organisation has the best qualified employees obtained within the constraints of the organisation’s financial resources. The staffing function of most organisations consists of determining the job requirements, duties and responsibilities. The staffing function is also concerned with recruiting and electing new employees, orienting new employees, compensation, training and developing programmes so that present employees can be more competent, maintain a high level of effectiveness or so that new employees can become more competent in their positions.

Before these activities can be carried out, an analysis of labour needs is required. For large multi product, multi plant businesses, the analysis may include long-range needs. For small firms, the analysis may be made on a day-to-day basis.

Establishing Future Staffing Needs

Business plans determine future staffing needs. Through business planning, management charts an organisation’s future in terms of financial objectives, product mix, technologies, resource requirements, and the like (Walker, 1980). Once the direction of the business is set, the human resource planner assists in developing workable organisational structures and in determining the numbers and types of employees that will be required to meet financial and output goals.

Available evidence suggests that the art of establishing future staffing needs is in its infancy. Bowey, Batholomew and Forbes(1979), and Frantzreb confirmed the failure of the existing methodologies and that research has so far failed to develop adequate means of determining whether organisations are currently under-or over-staffed, let alone to establishing appropriate staffing levels for new businesses or emerging technologies.

As a result, managerial estimates often are relied upon. Estimates of total staffing needs may be made by top management in the unit or initial estimates may be made by lower managers whose figures, are refined and consolidated through group discussions at successively higher levels (bottom-up).

A variant is the Delphi technique through which dependent estimates of future staffing needs are elicited by means of successive iterations of questionnaires. At each iteration, estimates are sought and clarifying data may be provided.’ The expectation is that four or five iterations will result in a convergence of estimate. Managerial estimation procedures were described by Walker and the Delphi technique by Mikovich, Annoni, and Mahoney.

Four frequently discussed statistical techniques were propounded by Lee Dyer, an associate professor in the New York State School of Industrial and Labour Relations at Cornel University (1982). Two of these: regression analysis and productivity ratios, use such work load indicators as sales volume, production levels, value added, productivity rates and budgets to forecast future staffing needs. The third techniques is personnel ratio which relies on relative patterns of employment levels in various units or among selected occupational groups, while the fourth, that is, time series analysis – simply extrapolates past staffing levels, giving no consideration to future business plans.

The various statistical projection techniques tend to be limited in practice. Judgmental techniques undoubtedly predominate in practice, but statistical techniques dominate the research literature.

Notwithstanding current shortcoming in practice and research, each organisation engaged in human research planning (HRP) must somehow decide upon (or implicitly assume) desired staffing levels for each job or job category in the unit or occupational group involved.

Employment Process

Once the forecasts of manpower needs have been obtained, the next is to make detailed plans for the human resources of the company. These plans may focus on recruitment, selection and placement of new employees and may attempt to define when, where, how and for what positions they will be hired. These plans may alternatively focus on retention and promotion of existing employees with ideas for reducing turnover and making better use of current resources. The emphasis may shift to the need for a programme of training and development. Detailed plans for the acquisition of human resources include the following employment stages:

Job Description

Personnel’s first step before recruiting applicants, is to draw up specifications for the job to be filled. A job description typically identifies a job, describes in general way what it, involves. and lists specific asks, areas of responsibilities, and necessary experience and educational requirements. The description informs employees and their supervisors about ajob’s content and it givesbmanagement a standard to use when evaluating performance.


Recruitment refers to the process by which a large number of perspective candidates are attracted by various methods to apply for the positions available. Wide publicity enables more people to apply for the posts so that there will be much wider choke for selection of the most qualified candidates. The effect of response to recruitment will not only depend upon the method of recruitment but also the standing policy at the agency, the terms and conditions offered, and the professional and other opportunities available. Recruitment procedures include employee requisition and source of recruitment.

Employee requisition is initiated by the department manager specifying various details including the job title, department and the date the employee is needed for work. The job description provides the qualifications needed by the person to be recruited. The source of recruitment can either be internal or external. Recruitment methods are the specific means through which potential employees are attracted to the organisation. Appropriate methods for recruitment can either be internal or external.

Internal recruitment methods are in three stages: Stage one, that is, the management skills inventory during which management scrutinizes personnel files in the department to determine whether needed qualifications are possessed by current employees and if such employees can be promoted from within. The second stage is job posting to communicate the fact that job openings exist in the organisation and to attract attention from within the current staff who may be recognised by management for possible posting to fill a vacancy. Lastly is the third stage which is job bidding which permits individuals in the organisation to apply for the job. Internal recruitment attempts to remove the common complaint heard in many companies that insiders never hear of a job opening until it has been filled.

The use of internal personnel sources has both advantages. Promoting from within tends to improve morale and may prevent the need for layoffs in slow periods. A firm knows its employees and promoting from within can capitalize on its training investment in them. On the other hand, it may not have qualified employees available when they are needed, and better qualified people may be obtained from outside. Often, an employee hired from outside brings new knowledge and skill

External sources of recruitment are tapped if the human resources are not available from within the company. The following sources: could be considered:

1. Unsolicited applications

2. Advertisement in newspapers, trade journals, and magazines, professional journals

3. College and university campuses – educatíonal institutions

4. Employment agencies and management consultants

5. Labour unions

6. Employee referrals and former employees

7. Local and overseas rec recruitment drives

8. Job centres and state offices such as the Labour Offices, Office of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) etc.

9. Words of mouth, shop – Window notices and news bulletin.

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