Modern workplace 'requires employers to embrace the multi-generational office'

Employers who want to recruit, motivate and retain the best talent need to create a flexible working environment, according to a new report.

Britain's ageing population means that many offices across the UK now span up to four generations, forcing them to cater for everyone from teenagers to great-grandparents, the study by Green Park, Reading, and Henley Business School says.

Independent research has shown a well-established link between an employee's age and the type of workplace and the amenities they value.

However, these values can differ wildly between generations, making it vital for companies to pay close attention to their workplace environments, the survey results, analysed by the Henley Centre for HR Excellence, found.

Over a third (35%) of those quizzed felt they were most productive in a workspace broken down into private offices for individual or small groups of employees.

However, those in the 18-34 age bracket were far likelier to embrace open plan offices, which allow greater communication and intermingling of ideas between workers.

While 36% of office staff supported the idea of their employer organising social activities, that interest dropped off dramatically for older age groups, with a third of 55-64 year-olds demonstrating more interest in additional benefits like health cover and cycle to work schemes.

All age groups' number one priority was good private and public transport access, although younger workers had a strong interest in communal facilities such as on-site shops, cafes and gyms.

Since some of these generational requirements are mutually exclusive, or rub up against social, economic or legislative problems, employers are going to need to get creative, the report says.

Nick Kemsley, the report's author, said it was vital that employers factor the diverse needs of different generations into their business plans.

"A 'one size fits all' approach to workplace provisions is increasingly inadequate," Mr Kemsley added.

"Employers are under enormous pressure to do more with less, and this means they're looking ever harder for ways to get the most from the people they have, while maximising their attractiveness to the people they need for the future."

Copyright Press Association 2012