British SMEs lack confidence in pensions and regulations, according to the latest report by Barclays Corporate and Employer Solutions.

The report found that 25% of senior decision-makers in UK SMEs with less than 50 employees admitted businesses knowledge on the subject was very poor while a greater 28% confessed their individual knowledge of pensions and pension regulations was equally limited.

Auto-enrolment benefits

Despite their lack of confidence or understanding, Barclay’s research actually found that SMEs are finding pension auto-enrolment more valuable than they had originally anticipated.

One quarter (25%) of SMEs who are yet to enrol commented that the auto-enrolment scheme is a really positive step forward for smaller British businesses while 54% of those already involved in the scheme say the same.

Businesses which said the changes were positive also recorded improved employee engagement, motivation, attraction and retention following auto-enrolment.

Head of SME Offering at Barclays Corporate and Employer Solutions, Grant Hughes, said it is encouraging it is to see many smaller businesses realising the benefits of auto-enrolment.

While workplace pensions have a clear benefit to all employees, it also works as a fantastic tool for employee engagement, he said.

Building strong foundations

Hughes also commented that, as a company, they are seeing more businesses establish the use of pensions as the “foundation” of a larger benefits package when hoping to attract new staff.

The research conducted by Barclays also found decision-makers from Generation Y – those aged between 25 and 34 years – favour auto-enrolment.

As much as 46% believe the scheme has a really positive impact on smaller businesses in Britain; something only 31% of Generation X (aged 35-54 years) agree with.

According to the report, 75% of SMEs that are already enrolled use some form of external support to help them through the process and this could help to increase confidence in the scheme.

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