Its research, unveiled at conference, held in association with Financial Adviser, found that 74 per cent of those employers who have already completed auto-enrolment or are due to complete the process by May, have found the overall process difficult.
Understanding the regulations was cited by 64 per cent as the biggest challenge with 43 per cent expressing surprise at just how difficult this was.
Naomi Cohen, head of market engagement at Nest, said employers “have a high expectation of support” from their advisers, including pension providers, advisers, payroll providers and accountants.
The majority - 94 per cent are expecting support on understanding the legalities, and 66 per cent are expecting support making contributions and running their pension scheme.
She said: “These are large corporate employers that have in-house professional pensions operatives and work alongside established advisory firms that do pension day in and day out – this is there day job and 43 per cent of them were surprised how hard it was to understand what these new regulations mean for them.”
A fifth said they found it difficult to assess their workforce and 15 per cent said that making the changes required to capture data was much harder than they expected. However, only 15% cited managing the running of the pension scheme and the pension contributions as a significant challenge.
Ms Cohen said: “Auto-enrolment is a great deal more than choosing and running a pension scheme, assessing the workforce, organisation data, enrolling the worker and understanding the regulations. They are the big challenges employers are having to face.”
However, the research found that employers that had not yet complied with the legislation had grossly underestimated the time it would to prepare with 31 per cent of this group indicating they expected it to take between 1 and 3 months. In contrast 53 per cent of employers that had already done auto-enrolment said it took more than 10 months and up to 18 months.
Ms Cohen advised employers to allow at least six months or potentially even 18 months to prepare.