United Response took extra time to communicate auto-enrolment message

Social care provider United Response postponed auto-enrolment to allow more time to communicate to its workforce.

United Response pensions auto-enrolment

Many of the organisation’s 3,500 employees were already in its stakeholder pension scheme, but a further 1,451 were auto-enrolled on 1 October, postponed from its staging date in July 2013.

Diane Lightfoot, director of communications and fundraising at United Response, says: “We did our first briefing in April. We knew we would postpone, so we had six months to prepare our employees. We created a special edition of our monthly briefing, which goes to all our staff.”

This introduced the idea of auto-enrolment, told employees what it would mean for them and set out a list of questions and answers in an attempt to pre-empt further questions from staff.

“We thought through the sorts of things employees would have been thinking and pre-empted those as much as possible and made the communications simple and relevant; that was really important,” says Lightfoot.

“We wanted to give as much notice as possible to ease staff through the transition and regularly communicated to keep everyone updated. We also produced a briefing presentation that the HR team took around the country to various meetings at different levels.”

The feedback from those communications was that employees were confused, which prompted United Response to reinforce its auto-enrolment messages.

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Lightfoot adds: “By working with our provider, Friends Life, we kept repeating and reinforcing the message that this was going to happen by putting up posters in the workplace to remind staff. We also used literature and imagery that wasn’t generic, but tailored to our employees and didn’t jar, frighten or look odd to them.”

Its HR and payroll teams were also trained up to deal with enquiries, but there were surprisingly few. “Our communication process was simple, relevant and tailored, and we pre-empted as much as possible,” says Lightfoot. ”We had a plan, we knew what we wanted to achieve and kept it short, simple and used different types of communication.”