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Contact our research team

Jude Gardner
Senior Research Executive
01293 586567

Peter Lee
Senior Research Executive
01293 766654

With automatic enrolment (AE) turning five in 2017, and a government review on the horizon – we wanted to find out how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) feel about AE. And we were also aiming to gauge their reactions to potential future developments to AE policy.

The research

We ran a series of questions on the YouGov SME Omnibus, which is a panel of decision-makers at British companies with 2-249 employees. To qualify for the research, we required the respondent to be aware of their business’s staging date, so that we could be sure we were speaking to individuals with at least some insight into their business’s pension provision. 676 SMEs qualified for the survey under this criteria. The survey questions ran between 5th and 12th December 2016.


The research revealed strong support for AE among SMEs, whether they have already staged or not:

  • The majority (51%) of SMEs that had already staged supported lower paid workers (who are currently outside AE) being brought in. The same percentage also supported the self-employed being brought into AE.
  • 3 in 5 SMEs (61%) thought AE was a good thing for their employees, with 2 in 5 (41%) stating it was a good thing for their business.
  • There was also reasonable support for compulsion amongst SMEs, with 43% of those that have already staged saying that they thought all eligible employees should be forced to pay into a workplace pension, with no opt outs.
  • Encouragingly, 37% of SMEs that had staged were already paying more than the 1% minimum contribution to all employees in their workplace pension scheme.


It would be tempting to suspect that SMEs wouldn’t be overly keen to provide a workplace pension to their employees.

But our research suggests that actually overall, the majority are pretty supportive of the idea. And it seems that those who have already staged are more positive, which might be because having been through the process, they know it’s not as hard as they expected – and they can see how beneficial it is for their employees.

Learn more

Download the full ‘SME attitudes towards automatic enrolment’ report .pdf »