If, like many other small business owners, you’re already looking after your business’s marketing, sales, planning and strategy, legal, HR and finance functions, you may be wondering, ‘how am I going to find the time for auto-enrolment?’.
Well, I wasn’t joking. You don’t need to worry about finding time for auto-enrolment but you do need to comply. Auto-enrolment can seem like an overwhelming task to add to an already long list of things you do to keep your business on track. But it doesn’t have to be.
Look to technology to reduce the heavy lifting
If you’re comfortable with the payroll process, but pensions feel alien to you, using web services could be an ideal solution. This technology enables your familiar payroll software to speak directly to a pension scheme. It means that instead of grappling with additional reams of data, you can use existing payroll information.
Worried about how long auto-enrolment administration will take? This technology cuts it right down. Many tasks can be done at the click of a button and reduces the risk of human error. From setting up the scheme, to enrolling members, providing contributions data and making payments, web services can help you take care of many tasks with ease. Check with your payroll provider to see if they’re set up with the scheme of your choice.
Seek assistance from an intermediary
Of course, you want to ensure the right amount of time for auto-enrolment has been set aside then think about handing everything over to someone else. Some schemes offer an online portal so you can hand over almost all the auto-enrolment tasks to your business adviser or accountant. These online portals enable third parties to streamline work and administer large numbers of employers easily. This means they can create a more attractive pricing offer for customers like you.
Technology is only part of the solution
Pensions aren’t just about processing data and making contributions, they’re about people too. Employers, and those who help them, need to carefully plan their approach to auto-enrolment and communicate with workers about how it will affect them. You may be thinking that an informal chat over a cup of tea would work well with your team. But, with auto-enrolment, there are rules about how you should communicate to your workers about how the changes will affect them.
Take this into account when you look to factor in some time for auto-enrolment. Every employer must write to their workers to explain that a contribution will be deducted from their pay and inform them about what will happen to that money. So an informal chat, even if that’s how you normally communicate, isn’t appropriate here.
‘That’s more admin!’ I hear you say. Not necessarily. Many schemes provide employers with pre-made templates and communications to send to your workers. The best ones are those that use clear communications. It’s a no brainer really. Jargon is not only off-putting, it acts as a barrier to understanding. And, it’s likely to cause confused workers to direct all their questions your way or worse put them off saving all together.
Make an informed decision that’s right for you and your business
It’s important to remember that you have a choice when it comes to setting up and managing auto-enrolment. That is, a choice of how you go about it, and how much of your own time you invest, not a choice as to whether you comply. But either way, it doesn’t have to be difficult. With technology available to help take the weight off your shoulders, and financial experts on hand if you need them, don’t worry about finding time for auto-enrolment.
Paul Budgen is director of business development at NEST.
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