One in four (25%) senior decision makers in companies with fewer than 50 employees believe that the knowledge of the business on both pensions and pensions regulation is poor, with an even greater number (28%) considering their own knowledge to be of an equally low standard.
The research also revealed that SMEs are finding auto-enrolment more beneficial than they expected to.
Only a quarter of businesses (25%) that have not yet auto enrolled believe that the new requirement is a positive benefit for small businesses, but this figure more than doubles (54%) once they have been through the staging process.
Those that believe auto-enrolment is positive for small businesses have reported improvements in employee engagement, attraction and retention of staff and productivity gains.
Grant Hughes, head of SME offering at Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions, said: “It is encouraging to see so many businesses realising the advantages of auto-enrolment after implementation.
“While workplace pensions have clear benefits for employees, they also present an opportunity for businesses to use them as a tool for employee engagement, and we are increasingly seeing businesses establish them as the foundation on which to build a broader benefits package.”
The Barclays research found that decision makers from Generation Y in particular (those aged 25-34) show a favourable attitude to auto-enrolment, with almost half (46%) believing its implementation to be a positive benefit for small businesses, compared with 31% of Generation X (aged 35-54).
According to the research, three-quarters (75%) of businesses that have auto enrolled used some form of external support to help implement the process.