The Midterm’s Surprising Impact on Hiring

Three-quarters of US executives tell us the election’s outcome will influence the talent they’ll use. Here’s how.

Next week’s midterm elections could impact the country’s immigration policy, budget, healthcare strategy, and multiple other national issues. The nation’s workplace leaders think it’ll also have an impact on the talent that comes in the door, too. Three quarters of executives surveyed say the outcome of next week’s midterm elections will influence their company’s future hiring decisions, with nearly a quarter say the results will have a significant impact on hiring, according to a new Korn Ferry survey.

Whoever wins the 435 representative and 35 senate seats up-for-grabs will have a say in addressing the nation’s challenges. But the state and local elections may wind up having as much—or more—of an impact on hiring. Governors and mayors have a big influence on taxes, workplace rules, and economic development policies, and legislation can move faster at the local level than it does nationally. Next week 36 states will choose a governor next year, and almost 300 cities and towns will have mayoral elections between Nov. 6 and the end of the year. “There are many issues in play this election season that could have an impact on business and hiring,” said Bill Gilbert, a global operating executive for Korn Ferry. “As business leaders assess their future strategic priorities—including their talent agenda—they will most likely take into consideration the results of these elections.”

Korn Ferry surveyed more than 500 executives in October about the upcoming elections. The divisiveness in politics has made its way into the many workplaces as well. Sixty percent say political conversations have created a more divisive workplace in recent years, and half of the leaders say they are not comfortable with politics being discussed while they are on the job. A majority, 59%, believe disclosing their own political affiliation could have a negative impact on their career. That may be why 69% of respondents say they do not discuss politics while at work. 

But while election season often brings with it divisive issues that are flashpoints in the workplace, experts say corporations should embrace this time as an opportunity to encourage constructive dialogue across divides. “Political diversity is a new frontier in the work of inclusion,” says Andres Tapia, a Korn Ferry global diversity and inclusion strategist. “Corporations that already are nurturing inclusive environments have a unique opportunity to foster non-polarizing conversations that lead to new understandings of others’ political positions.”

The survey also showed that most executives mood may improve after Nov. 6; 94% said they’ll be glad once the midterm elections are over.