The survey carried out by the human resources consultancy found levels of awareness were particularly low among individuals who are not currently members of a workplace pension scheme – the primary target of auto-enrolment – with just 16% aware of the initiative.
Just over a third (36%) of employees already in private sector pension schemes had heard of the project, which will begin in October when the UK’s largest companies begin auto-enrolling their employees.
Respondents also suggested limited penetration for government communications on the topic, with only 6% of those surveyed having seen the Department for Work and Pension’s advertising campaign on auto-enrolment.
Aon said this showed how important the TV advertising campaign planned for September could be, but said employers also had a role to play in making sure their workforce understood the implications of auto-enrolment.
James Patten, benefits design specialist at Aon Hewitt, said: ‘The government TV ads scheduled for September should make a difference but employers also need to take steps to communicate the implications of auto-enrolment to their workforce.
‘Otherwise, the first time some employees understand the new requirements will be when they see their payslips and realise that contributions have been deducted – and that they have a limited window in which to opt-out,’ he said.
Aon also found limits to the information that had already been provided to workers on auto-enrolment, with only 18% of those surveyed who are now scheme members but are aware of the initiative agreeing they had received enough information on it.
Mr Patten added: ‘There is clearly an education gap. Employers need a strategy both to deal with the regulatory communication requirements and to ensure their employees understand the implications of auto-enrolment before contributions are deducted.’