Diane Lightfoot: How will the auto-enrolment ‘capacity crunch’ affect medium to large employers?

As a larger employer, we went through auto-enrolment in 2013, with the support of our adviser, Barnett Waddingham.

With a large number of small and medium-sized employers due to go through the same process, organisations can get the expert support they need to avoid the ‘capacity crunch’.


Employers should carefully plan well in advance. It made a huge impact on the success of our project. This included assessing the financial impact of different options so we were able to come up with the best possible package for our staff that we could afford.

Despite the possibility of services reducing from providers, we do not think the ‘capacity crunch’ will really affect us because, as a relatively large employer, our staging date was quite early in the auto-enrolment process.

This meant we were able to get things up and running before the ‘crunch’ hit. 

It could be an issue for us in the future if we wanted to make any changes to our pension arrangements, but, at this stage, we are not anticipating a problem.

The key to us avoiding any impact from the capacity crunch was setting up a cross-organisational project team early on, which comprises finance, HR and communications, to lead the process and investing in additional resource in our payroll team.

While it was great having expert external support, our own organisational knowledge was vital in deciding on approaches and particularly in getting the communications messages right, both in tone and method of delivery.

Whether or not the services will decline because of any ‘crunch’ remains to be seen.

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Every employer will need expert advice on legal compliance, especially when communications are being sent. Experts are invaluable in helping give our staff a package that will give them the best likely result.

Diane Lightfoot is director of communications and fundraising at United Response