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Over-stretched HR causes auto-enrolment worries

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Two thirds of employers are concerned that pensions auto enrolment will increase workload for their HR and payroll departments, according to new research from Hays, the leading recruiting expert. One in ten (11 percent) expect to take on additional staff to handle the additional work.

While increased workload topped the list of concerns for employers, communicating changes to their employees was also a concern for over half (57 percent), followed by the development of new IT systems and data migration (36 percent). These views come from attendees at a series of seminars held by Hays in partnership with Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions and NEST (National Employment Savings Trust). The seminars helped over 1,000 employers in 15 cities across the UK to understand the implications of these changes, which will make it compulsory for employers to enrol their eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme. Despite these concerns, the majority of those who attended felt confident about their preparation for automatic enrolment following the seminar, with 58 percent saying they were exactly on track and a confident 10 percent believing they were further along than they thought before the seminar.

Although some of the UK’s largest employers have been implementing their automatic enrolment plans from October 2012, many smaller organisations are still in the planning stages. A third (34 percent) of those attending the seminars saying they have not started the process yet and nearly half (49 percent) are still in the strategy development phase. Steve Heard, Director at Hays said: “These results show that employers feel well informed about what automatic enrolment means for them, and despite their concerns about increased workloads, the majority feel they are on track in their preparations. Although there is still some way to go for some organisations, it is reassuring that the vast majority (96 percent) of people attending the seminars felt more confident about their obligations under auto enrolment following the seminars.”

Graham Vidler, Director of Communications and Engagement at NEST adds: “NEST’s own research supports Hays’ findings that communicating changes to workers is a concern for many employers. Because of this, NEST has developed a suite of guides and workplace communication tools for employers to use, available free of charge, on our website. Our experience with large employers suggests it can take anything up to 18 months to get ready and arming yourself with as much information as possible is critical. With plenty to think about when considering how to implement automatic enrolment, our message is start early and plan ahead.”

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