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Workie helps employers engage with automatic enrolment

Ref: PN16-16
Thursday 31 March 2016

Workie is helping ensure small employers and advisers don’t ignore the workplace pension according to new research published today.

The latest research into employers’ and intermediaries’ awareness of automatic enrolment shows that 79% of employers remember seeing or hearing at least one of the campaign adverts while intermediaries who have seen the adverts found them relevant and memorable.

The eye-catching creature Workie first appeared in the campaign launched in October last year and the majority of employers surveyed found the TV advertising a fun way to get across a serious message.

Other key findings concerning the impact of The Pension Regulator's (TPR’s) advertising campaign:

  • Around a quarter of employers (24%) spontaneously recalled the key message that “all employers need to comply”.
  • Campaign recall levels amongst intermediaries were between 90-94%.
  • 91% of bookkeepers recalled the advert, a significant increase from 82% the year before.

Both surveys found an increased awareness of The Pensions Regulator, with almost all employers having some level of familiarity. There has been a continual increase since 2012 in the proportion of intermediaries who claim to ‘know a lot’ about the regulator.

The research - based on surveys carried out between November 2015 and January 2016 - shows that for the first time there is a near universal level of awareness and understanding of the reforms among intermediaries. The biggest increase in understanding was among bookkeepers and accountants. Charles Counsell, Executive Director for automatic enrolment, said:

“Workie is working, but the ad campaign is just one of the tools we have used to ensure employers and intermediaries are ready for workplace pension.

“We have been updating our communications and working with professional bodies to ensure that advisers across the country are ready for their clients’ questions.

“Hundreds of thousands of small and micro employers are now preparing for their new workplace pension duties so it is no surprise that more advisers are seeing their clients turn to them for help.”

TPR writes to all employers with information on what to do and when.

The employer survey has indicated that letters from TPR also have a significant impact on employers’ understanding of workplace pension duties.

Mr Counsell said: “Our letters help employers comply with their duties. I’d urge people to not only read the letters they receive from us, but to act on them in a timely manner.”

Key findings from the employer survey:

  • Awareness of automatic enrolment remained similar to spring 2015 among small and micro employers (90% and 78%) while understanding increased significantly (68% among small employers, 56% among micros).
  • Correspondence from TPR was the main trigger for employers to take action to prepare for automatic enrolment (76%), followed by information from an adviser (43%), and then seeing or hearing advertising (23%).
  • A majority of employers continue to agree that automatic enrolment is a good thing in principle for their employees (77% of small, 65% of micros).

Key findings from the intermediaries’ survey:

  • Bookkeepers and accountants saw significant increases in overall understanding of automatic enrolment compared to spring 2015, from 78% to 93% and 85% to 96% respectively.
  • Knowledge of the need for employers to complete a declaration of compliance with The Pensions Regulator increased significantly, from 79% to 94% amongst independent financial advisers (IFAs) and from 60% to 84% among accountants.
  • Around half of accountants, bookkeepers and payroll administrators felt only partially able to answer clients’ queries. Confidence was higher amongst IFAs at 73%.

Editor's notes

  1. The Pensions Regulator has an ongoing process of reviewing the effectiveness of its communications to employers, both direct and indirect, to ensure it meets the needs of the different audiences affected by automatic enrolment.
  2. The autumn employer survey wave comprised 601 telephone interviews conducted in November and December 2015, among small employers (with between 5 and 29 employees) and micro employers (1 and 4 employees).
  3. The autumn intermediary survey comprised a telephone survey of intermediaries operating in the UK, with 422 interviews conducted in total. Accountants, IFAs, bookkeepers and payroll administrators were interviewed between November 2015 and early January 2016.
  4. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

Press contacts

Rebecca Sandles 01273 811870

Ciara Bridge-Butler 01273 662018