Coke sees 12% auto-enrolment opt-out

EXCLUSIVE: Coca-Cola Enterprises has seen 12% of its eligible workforce who were auto-enrolled into its group personal pension (GPP) plan in April 2013 opt out.

134 of the 1,151 employees who were auto-enrolled (around 25% of the organisation’s workforce) have opted out.

Rashree Chhatrisha, senior benefits analyst at Coca-Cola Enterprises, said: “The opt-out rate in the first opt-out window was as expected and predicted by the industry for organisations our size.”

The majority of the organsiation’s 4,150 employees are members of a closed defined benefit (DB) pension, while just over 700 staff were already members of the GPP before auto-enrolment.

The GPP, which is provided and administered by Standard Life, has been in place since 2005. The minimum employee contribution is set at 3% with the organisation matching this, plus a further 2%, to a maximum of 10%. It is offered via a salary sacrifice arrangement.

The auto-enrolled employees were defaulted to a minimum contribution of 3% and a lifestyle investment fund. They will have the opportunity to change both the contribution level and their investment fund at any time during the year.

Communications campaign

Coca Cola Enterprises began a communication campaign for auto-enrolment in October 2012 with consultancy Towers Watson.

Malcolm Page, senior manager, benefits at Coca-Cola Enterprises, added: “Rather than communicating the message that auto-enrolment was compulsory, we wanted to highlight the associated benefits of being in the plan, the company match, and encouraging people to think about their retirement.”

It introduced a new brand, Connect with your Future, to help employees understand how defined contribution (DC) pensions work and to encourage them to take full advantage of the GPP.

Standard Life ran a series of face-to-face seminars to outline the basics of the pension, explain the investment options and answer any questions.

Attendees were surveyed during the seminars about their understanding of auto-enrolment and the usefulness of the seminars. Almost all (95%) said they understood what auto-enrolment meant for them, 100% agreed that the seminars were beneficial and 96% said they had an increased knowledge of pensions after the seminars.

The communications toolkit also included personalised letters, wallet cards, vox-pop videos, e-cards, online calculation tools and digital screens around Coca-Cola Enterprises’ sites.

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The vox-pop videos showed real-life stories from a cross-section of employees talking about their own pensions. Laurence Parker, HR communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, added: “We have more than 40% of employees who do not have access to email so we had to think of new ways to engage those employees.

“Our survey results showed that nearly a third of those on sites with no access to email found the posters and brochures useful, and spurred them on to find out more.”