The survey found that half of the larger companies that have had to comply with the rules wished they had given themselves more time to prepare.
The same proportion of company bosses said that on-going administration and ensuring that their back office systems were ready have been the most difficult aspects of auto-enrolment compliance, with 33 per cent saying they have taken additional staff for help.
The survey highlighted that many SMEs are underestimating the impact of auto-enrolment on their business.
Nigel Bolton, pensions partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Two things are clear from this report. Larger businesses that have already staged found and continue to find the process a lot more challenging than they expected, whilst smaller firms are underestimating what the true impact of auto-enrolment will be.
Many larger organisations say that they regret their approach to auto-enrolment and say they wished they had given themselves more time. I have major concerns that the impact will soon be felt by SMEs and because they do not have the back office teams and systems that their larger counterparts have, the impact could be considerable.”
However, half of SMEs said they would welcome an online solution to deal with the entire process.
The report was published ahead of tomorrow’s auto-enrolling start when 6,000 SMEs will place over 1m staff into a workplace pension scheme.