21 Nov, 2012

Workplace pension schemes

The vast majority of employers (88{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) are fully aware of their requirements to auto-enrol staff into a pension scheme, but only half (51{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) of those have looked beyond legal compliance and taken steps to ensure their pension arrangements meet the needs of the business and employees. That’s according to the latest research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), based on a survey of more than 1,000 employers across all sectors of the economy.

The CIPD also surveyed more than 2,000 employees and found that 62{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of those not currently saving through a workplace pension plan to stay opted in when they are auto-enrolled. As a consequence, the CIPD predicts that if the rest of the UK workforce behaves in a similar fashion to those surveyed the overall percentage of those in a workplace pension could increase from 52{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} to 82{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}.

However, the report Labour Market Outlook: Focus on pension auto-enrolment, reveals that employers are divided when it comes to the predicted impact of auto-enrolment on their organisations: 49{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} predict it will have no impact, with the remainder predicting it may impact wage growth and other elements of the reward mix. Worryingly, only 26{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of organisations have already started to collect data to measure and evaluate the impact, while 20{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} have no intention of doing so.

Commenting on these figures, Charles Cotton, CIPD rewards adviser, said: “It looks likely that automatic pension enrolment will significantly boost the numbers of employees saving for their retirement. Given that the cost of pensions is a major business outlay for most employers, it is somewhat disappointing that so few have started collecting data to assess the impact that these reforms may have.  Some organisations may feel forced to offset some of the additional costs by reducing wage growth or cutting other benefits, but it is important that employers examine how they can turn these costs into an investment that will bring a return to the organisation in the form of higher employee engagement, as well as aligning their pension scheme with the organisation’s business strategy, brand and culture. Our survey reveals that while much has already been done in this regard employers still need to do more.

“It is also concerning that so many respondents do not know what types of strategic or operational reviews are being carried out in light of automatic enrolment and too many are focusing just on their legal requirements. Getting it wrong doesn’t just mean getting into trouble with the Pensions Regulator. Large employers should treat the exercise as an organisational change project and set up cross-functional teams to implement the changes. Otherwise the danger is that HR teams assume that payroll, pensions or finance teams are taking the lead with auto-enrolment while these departments think that HR is. Regardless of who takes the lead, it’s important for each of these departments to support the implementation team to ensure that the outcome meets the needs of the organisation and employees.

“The challenge of successfully implementing automatic pension enrolment is no less daunting for small and micro employers, who often do not have HR professionals to whom they can turn. That it is why it is vital to the success of these reforms that, before smaller companies reach their staging date, medium and large employers share their experiences of automatic enrolment and suggest ideas and solutions for this vital part of the UK economy.”

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