Small and medium businesses make up the largest population of employers in the UK. So, not surprisingly as the deadlines for auto-enrolment loom ahead for these businesses – and consequently and huge number of UK employees — the rarely fashionable topic of pensions is suddenly a hot topic in the media.

Unfortunately the current debate isn’t necessarily something which will greatly help those who are planning for auto-enrolment or inspire those who have to consider whether to opt-out or not.

For employers, a number of stories about a capacity crunch for among financial advisers and pensions providers have come to the fore, raising the concern that employers who yet to engage these specialists may be left high and dry – something which is highly unlikely.

For employees, news that the Financial Conduct Authority is questioning the value for money of some pensions firms provides negative messages around pensions at a time when, if auto-enrolment is really going to work, we could do with the opposite.

If these headlines do tell us anything, it is of the importance for every small and medium business to have a plan in place around pensions auto-enrolment right now – whatever your staging date.

Doing this planning right now will help you on a number of levels.

For a start it will bring clarity to the process and timings you need to follow in your business to get auto-enrolment in place.

It will also ensure that you are able to get the right advice from the right people which is right for your specific business needs and business size.

Perhaps, most importantly by taking action, you put yourself in a position where you can ignore some of the scaremongering and have confidence that you will meet your pensions obligations.

Taking action early on will also allow you to take a step back and consider some of the broader strategic questions about how your new pension fits in the overall reward mix, how you can use the pensions changes to communicate the full remuneration package you offer your employees and how you can use these changes to differentiate yourself as an employer of choice.

So when it comes to planning for pensions auto-enrolment, the best approach is to take charge so you can keep calm and carry on doing what is most important: running your business.

Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred – for more comment, insight and whitepapers visit you call follow Andy on twitter @andy_philpott