The broader issues of jobs, immigration, education, health, and the economy affect everyone to a certain degree.
But for leaders and managers following the policies of all three main parties with an eye on their potential impact post-election, the devil is in the manifesto detail.
We spoke to four business leaders to find out what matters most to each.SJD Accountancy, which has eight offices nationwide and employs over 200 people. He's also a business angel and has invested in a number of start ups that pitched their ideas to him via Twitter.
Support for enterprise and new business start ups
- Lab: set up a regional growth fund, established by Regional Development Agencies, and continue the HMRC 'Time to Pay' scheme.
- Con: Support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme, Work for Yourself, which will give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial loans.
- LibDem: Enterprise investment focus is on green technology start ups, growth and jobs.
- Lab: Continue to simplify regulation and cut red tape.
- Con: Introduce regulatory budgets, forcing any government body wanting to introduce a new regulation to reduce regulation elsewhere by a greater amount, with scope for worst regulations to be repealed.
- LibDem: Similar to Conservatives.
- Lab: Support for automatic enrolment in occupational pensions and new personal pension accounts, with everyone in work entitled to matched contributions from employers and government.
- Con: May scrap the new national pension scheme, but pledged to 'reinvigorate occupational pensions' and support auto-enrolment.
- LibDem: No firm policy on occupational pension schemes and employer contributions.
Impact on voting intentions "All I can go off are past performances, because I believe that history always repeats itself, and ultimately, the Conservatives will perform better for business than Labour," says Dolan.
The public sector HR directorDean Shoesmith, HR director of Sutton and Merton Councils and president of the Public Sector People Management Association (PPMA). Last year the HR services of Sutton and Merton councils were merged, creating a shared HR division, making savings of Â£500,000.
Shoesmith's view: "There is a lot of talk about changes to public sector services after the election, but change has been happening for some time. In the case of the Merton and Sutton merger, people have to work harder, but we're making savings and improving efficiency."
Public sector pay
- Lab: Proposed one percent cap on public sector pay rises till 2013.
- Con: Freeze public sector pay for one year in 2011, excluding the one million lowest paid.
- LibDem: Impose a pay rise cap for two years.
Training and development
- Lab: Create up to 70,000 advanced apprenticeships a year, skills accounts for workers to upgrade their skills, and a new teacher training academy.
- Con: Funding for 200,000 apprentices over two years, and pledges to extend teacher training and second career and conversion programmes, such as Turning to Teaching.
- LibDem: Full funding for the off-the-job costs of adult apprenticeships, currently met by employers, for one year.
- Lab: Simplify regulation and avoid unnecessary red tape
- Con: Reduce red tape in employment by introducing a 'one-in, one-out' rule for new regulations and 'sunset clauses'.
- LibDem: Policy similar to Conservatives.
Influence on voting intentions "Nothing I'm hearing from the three main parties, whose policies on some key issues such as training and working practices are quite similar, would particularly influence my vote because a lot of what they are proposing post-election is already happening."
A family business, it employs 27 people and sells more than 2,000 machines a year. Trade has been fairly evenly divided between the domestic and overseas markets; but there's been a sharp rise in exports to in recent months, in line with the euro's strength against sterling.
Maxwell's view: "Initially we struggled to make inroads into the export market, hindered by the strength of sterling. Following a redesign of our website, an overhaul of our pricing structure, and a dramatic improvement in the exchange rate, we became more competitive for European customers and for importers in the UK."
- Lab: No plans to change corporate tax.
- Con: Reduce main rate from 28 percent to 25 percent and small company rate to 20 percent, countered by a reduction in capital allowances.
- LibDem: A reduction in headline rate, unspecified, and a clampdown on loopholes.
- Lab: Further duty increments of one pence planned for October 2010 and January 2011.
- Con: Pledged to consult on a fuel duty stabiliser, countering fluctuating oil prices to keep forecourt prices steady.
- LibDem: Introduce a rural fuel discount scheme to allow a reduced fuel duty to be paid in remote areas.
Impact on voting intentions "Policies that support business growth rather than stall it, and recognise the importance of market stability and favourable exchange rates for exporters, will be the ones that get my vote. I haven't made my decision, and that could be swayed by what I hear before May 6."
Ross's view: "Our large private sector clients have recognised that managing employee sickness absence and supporting staff back to health saves money and boosts productivity. It's a source of frustration, especially in light of plans for tackling public sector spending cuts, that the potential savings are not being acknowledged."
Public sector spending
- Lab: 'Targeted' increase in public spending over the next year to 'sustain recovery', before cutting the deficit by more than 50 percent by 2014.
- Con: Aim to eliminate 'the bulk' of the UK's structural deficit within five years beginning in 2010 with Â£6bn in cuts.
- LibDem: Reduce the deficit with Â£15bn of savings in government spending.
National Insurance (NI)
- Lab: Planned one percent NI increase in 2011.
- Con: Reverse Labours planned NI rise for people earning less than Â£35,000.
- LibDem: Reverse the one percent rise when resources allow.
- Lab: Pro-Europe with plans for an EU-wide, post-recession 'compact for jobs and growth.'
- Con: Opt out of the charter of fundamental rights, protection against EU encroachment in the UK's criminal justice system, and return to national control of employment legislation.
- LibDem: The most pro-European of the three, promising to get the best out of Europe by leading from the front.
Influence on voting intentions "There are a couple of decisions that could sway my vote. The Conservatives haven't fielded Ken Clarke yet, and with his gravitas and wealth of experience, that is the deal-breaker."