Employer communications boost auto-enrolment opt-ins

Employee opt-ins to pension plans since auto-enrolment came into effect in October 2012 have been higher than expected because of employers’ communication activities around the reforms.

Serco Group saw 2% of staff opt in to its stakeholder scheme ahead of its staging date of 1 May 2013. It began communicating auto enrolment to its 30,000 UK staff in January 2013. This led to many calls to HR, requests for 152pension information packs and the 2% rise in opt-ins.

Grocery chain Morrisons, which staged on 1 October 2012, also focused on communications ahead of auto-enrolment, using in-store champions, booklets, a website and podcasts. As a result, 10,000 staff joined its cash balance pension scheme ahead of its staging date, leaving just under 3,000 to be auto-enrolled.

Paul Sturgess, head of defined contribution (DC) at Capita Employee Benefits, said: “We have been surprised at the number of opt-ins and the number of opt-outs has been lower than expected. “I wasn’t expecting a huge number of opt-ins. What might be the case is that employers had audiences of staff who could go into the scheme, but hadn’t got round to it. But after a bit of publicity and communication, they finally did something.”

John Lawson, head of policy at Aviva, added: “This is the early lesson from auto-enrolment: good communication can get staff into the scheme and engaged, and can also help reduce follow-up calls.”