The announcement by the government that it is scrapping the traditional retirement age of 65 means that businesses are facing up to dealing with first multi-generational workforce.

There are now four generations working side by side according to research by Steelcase, the global leader in workspace design and office interiors.

The four generations are: Traditionalists (born before 1945), Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (1965-77) and Millennial (1978 -1999).

The traditionalists category is now set to expand even further and in years to come may even create a fifth generation. The research conducted by Steelcase over the last four years across the world shows the different generations working side by side in a fast moving technologically advanced era is posing unprecedented challenges to businesses.

Among the key factors are:

  • The younger generation are three times more likely to work out of the office or while travelling compared with older colleagues.Formal meeting spaces are far less important to the younger generation and they are less distracted by noise in the office.
  • Older flexible workers demand more choice and control in terms of how, when and where they work over a working day and at the scale of their working life.
  • Older workers are increasingly curious and committed to learning, often mixing work and personal projects.

Mark Spragg, Managing Director of Steelcase UK said: “With another generation staying in the workforce for longer, the needs and work styles of people at either end of the age scale have never been so polarised. This creates very serious issues for business managers relating to conflict in the workplace, communication and turnover of employees.

“Over the last three years executives have realised that poor management of generations at work has a profound impact on their bottom line and have since adapted their working styles.”

In the past 50 years, life expectancy in the European Union has risen by about five years and could increase by another seven by 2060, according to the European Commission. Steelcase research findings show that age related issues are unquestionably a major issue for employers and the way to tackle them is to provide the right tools and environment to support their needs.