By Melissa Norman, Founder and Managing Director for Aisling Group
In Malaysia, general elections are held every five years. Even though the 14th Parliament expires on 16 July 2023, five years after it began meeting on 16 July 2018, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolved the legislature on 10 October 2022 at the request of the incumbent Prime Minister.
Constitutionally, the general elections must be held in 60 days, making 9 December 2022 the last possible election date.
It's often said that the right to vote is our right to speak, and elections are about choosing the party that best represents our interests. So, does the outcome of national elections have any impact on employment? If so, does voting directly affect hiring and firing in the economy? Or is there more to it than that?
In this article, we explore how elections can impact employment positively or negatively.
What Is Employment and Why Is It Important?
Employment occurs when people are paid to do work that helps society function: businesses can produce goods and services and earn profits, which they use to remunerate their employees. A person who is employed contributes to the economy, builds skills, earns money, and becomes a tax-paying member of society. Employment is vital because it allows people to earn a living and contribute to society. Thus, understanding the employment-election relationship is crucial.
Election Cycle and Employment
Every few years, elections take place and are a lengthy process. Elections can be general or by-elections, and local or national. Depending on the type, they may be called when the sitting government loses the majority of seats in Parliament. In addition, they may be called when the people need to decide whom they want to lead the country.
In the months leading up to an election, speculation about its impact on the economy and employment is common. Elections do not affect employment immediately, however. After all, an election is a decision-making process that happens every few years. Hiring managers, on the other hand, make daily decisions about the composition of the workforce.
Elections and Employment: A Causal Relationship?
Election results have a direct impact on the strength of the economy: if one party wins and another loses, the sharing of power affects what policies are enacted. By extension, these policies will have a direct impact on the strength of an economy, which will in turn affect employment.
For example, if a government chooses to reduce tax rates, this is likely to increase investment in the economy and improve productivity, which in turn leads to more jobs. If, on the other hand, a government decides to increase taxes, this negatively impacts the number of money people have to spend and invest. This can slow economic growth and lead to fewer jobs.
Election results also have an indirect impact on employment by influencing the health of the economy: if people are optimistic about the future and feel confident in their country’s economy, they’re more likely to invest in the economy and open or expand businesses. This creates more jobs.
In Malaysia and globally, unemployment levels are never static, and there are highs and lows. If the economy slows or moves into a recession, hiring plans also slow down, and some companies even consider layoffs. It is still possible to hire in a down economy, but spending and hiring are scrutinised more closely.
It is more likely that business leaders will make decisions to spur company growth when they are confident in the political system and the economy. Conversely, if key decision- makers are less confident, they may be less likely to invest and spend, which certainly affects future hiring plans.
In the new normal, hiring will continue across many industries, and companies must remain competitive for talent. For companies to compete for a larger share of the available talent, they must provide candidates with an easier, streamlined, and time-efficient hiring process. Boosting talent acquisition competitiveness requires organisations to consider the following solutions:
The importance of employer branding: Employers can showcase their culture, people, and job opportunities through social media and career networking sites.
Streamlining the application and interview processes: Shorter interview processes and easy-to-complete applications will keep candidates interested.
An efficient candidate screening process: Fast, high-quality background checks enable the hiring process to be completed promptly.
Initially, it may seem that the election result will have a direct impact on hiring. After all, if a party is voted into power, it will be able to enact its policies, including hiring and firing. The opposite is true. Although the election may change some policies and abandon others, it doesn't directly affect employment.