Dispelling the myths about auto-enrolment communications

I’ve heard several presentations by people from companies who have passed their auto-enrolment staging date. Each stressed the importance of communications to the success of their auto-enroment project. Why then, do so many of the smaller companies seem to be putting off considering the communication aspects and/or think that their providers will provide all the communications their employees need? I put it down to the following 'myths':

  1. The statutory communications are all companies have to worry about.
  2. Communication strategies are only for companies with big communication budgets.
  3. All the details need to be agreed before considering communications.
  4. The more a company communicates about auto-enrolment, the lower the opt-out rate.
  5. Only companies who want to sell the pension scheme need to communicate more than the statutory minimum.

Dealing with each myth briefly in turn:

  1. The statutory communications on their own will not ensure that all your employees understand how auto-enrolment will affect them personally and enable them to make informed decisions.
  2. Developing a communication strategy need not increase your communication costs. A good communication strategy will enable you to make the most effective use of the budget you have available.
  3. There has been a lot of publicity around auto-enrolment and many employees are wondering how they are going to be affected. Also, some employees view auto-enrolment as a bad thing. Making sure they understand that this is being imposed on the company (and not your fault) and that they have the right to opt-out, will help engagement. There is no need to have all of the details of your own solution ironed out first.
  4. If employees are not aware of their right to opt-out or the process and deadlines involved, they risk missing the statutory opt-out deadline. Missed opt-out deadlines lead to small pots, frustrated employees who want their money back and wasted employer contributions.
  5. Effective communications help you achieve your objectives - you decide which messages you want to communicate and how. For example, you may not want to sell the scheme at all and be keen to avoid small pots caused by employees opting-out after a few months.

Overlaying statutory communications with an effective communication stategy is essential to ensuring the success of your auto-enrolment project. At the very least, I recommend developing comprehensive, tailored Q&As and manager briefing materials.

Glyn Hargreaves-Jones is in our HR Communications team. If you’d like to find out more about the best way to communicate your pensions auto-enrolment changes, you can contact him on 020 7213 4529 or by email at [email protected]