We will be hearing more than our fair share of election fanfare over the coming months, especially how possible outcomes will affect our businesses.
Whether it’s Key, Cunliffe or Peters' policies, or those of a coalition that strike your fancy, election time means inertia inevitably creeps into the business environment. It’s an insidious distraction that quietly diverts attention, and before you know it four months of producing less than optimal results have slipped by.
A decrease in hiring confidence and activity is commonly associated with the pre-election run-up. While logic suggests business as usual should continue, my observations over 25 years in recruitment confirms many businesses will delay hiring until after the election.
Is this because of a general sense of uncertainty or is it just human nature? Is it justified, and if so, when is a good time to hire?
Keep business momentum humming and swim against the tide
All parties make election promises. Whether it’s easing trade restrictions, immigration reform, easing interest rates or investing in IT infrastructure – these are major potential policy changes which may affect the everyday operations of our businesses. Typically, the uncertainty of changing policies in the immediate and short-term post-election period results in businesses putting innovation or expansion activities on hold until the smoke clears.
Looking ahead at this year’s scenario, a lack of hiring in the lead up to the September election will be compounded with the end of the financial year. This means reluctant businesses could risk under-resourcing projects or departments for as much as a full year if they choose to delay hiring decisions until the potential policy changes are clarified.
While some businesses prefer to play it safe over this time, it is actually a perfect time for less risk-averse competitors to hit some home runs. This period can best be described as a double-edged sword of sensible caution and exposure to competition, innovation and new entrants.
Given the uncertainty and risk posed by the election, to protect your business and keep things moving I favour a proactive approach:
1. Solve today’s problems today: Regardless of the election outcomes, you will still need to hire an accountant, project administrator or account manager to take care of daily business. Don’t let tomorrow’s big picture lure you away from resourcing what you need today.
2. Don’t mistake economic issues for election issues – engage in growth hiring: While the outcome of an election can create ripples throughout the business world, the economy may take years to reflect a change in government or policies. A fast or slow economy won’t change pace overnight simply because of a new or same government, so avoid the trap of letting major projects or innovations stagnate simply because of the fact that there is an election.
3. Communicate internally: If you are putting projects on hold or temporarily under-resourcing departments, communicate with general staff or department heads about your plans and your rationale. Don’t leave your team guessing because of a worst-case-scenario. They may see this as a good time to jump ship.
4. Build an active talent pipeline: If you don’t want to move ahead with growth projects at this time, invest in maintaining the upkeep of interested potential employees. Keep prospects warm by continuing conversations with relevant parties and keeping them in the loop about impending decisions.
5. Seek advice: If you can’t fight your way through the pre-election fog, seek professional advice. A clear head can help you focus, plan and keep your business moving in the right direction, regardless of who gets your vote.
Jane Kennelly is a recruitment professional with over 25 years’ industry knowledge. She is director of Frog Recruitment.