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Identifying what different generations value most in their workplace

It seems that obstacles are in no short supply following the Covid-19 pandemic back in 2020 and its long-lasting effects on the economy and the workplace.

As many businesses across the UK have resumed trade under a ‘new-normal’, whether that involves reopening offices or working entirely from home, workers have had to take a long hard look at what it is they truly want from their employers. The pandemic shifted the focus away from jobs being predominantly seen as a means to make ends meet, with the introduction of remote working during the lockdowns making people reassess how they want to structure their working life going forward.

With the addition of the current cost of living and energy crises – set to continue for a good while at least – this has only fuelled the desire to expect more than the bare minimum from your workplace, as many are now having to foot additional living costs that weren’t there before.

To find out more about what workers across different generations want from their workplace today, we at Moneypenny conducted a survey of 1,000 UK office workers over the age of 18. We asked them about their preferred working style and the work perks and benefits that they value the most.

Preferential working styles

Firstly, we asked office workers which working style they preferred – whether they enjoyed being in the office or would rather stay at home.

A majority (31%) of those surveyed said that they preferred having the option to work in a hybrid style, with some days spent physically in the office and others at home.

In terms of generational differences, hybrid working was the most popular with Xennials (35%), Millennials (34%), and Generation X (31%). Surprisingly, just 27% of office workers aged between 18-24 preferred hybrid working.

Interestingly, the second most-popular working style was full-time in the office – potentially due to people wanting to socialise more with coworkers after the isolation of the lockdown period.

19% of the office workers surveyed preferred working in the office, with this style being most popular with the baby boomer generation (27%), with 23% of Gen Z also preferring this style of working.

Unsurprisingly, however, working remotely was still a popular choice, with 19% of the office workers in the survey saying they preferred working from home full-time.

Generationally, the majority of the respondents were Xennials (25%) and Millennials (21%).

Another popular choice was flexible working (17%), giving employees the option to start and/or finish earlier or later depending on their needs. This work style was most valued by baby boomers (19%), Generation X (18%), and Millennials (18%).

Finally, 13% of the respondents said that they preferred their workplace to offer a 4-day working week. This option was the most popular with Generation X (16%) and Gen Z (15%). In contrast, just 12% of Millennials and baby boomers selected this option, with only 10% of Xennials saying they preferred a 4-day week.

Looking at the regional data, Londoners favourited hybrid working the most (40%), on the other hand, East of England workers preferred working from the office the most (22%). When it comes to working from home, 30% of those in the East Midlands said this type of work style is most appealing to them. 4-day week attracted those in Wales the most, with 21% saying so.

Free help from employers

We asked the respondents what free help from their employer they would welcome the most, and what help they were currently receiving – if any. Times are hard for many right now, so many employees may be in need of extra assistance to tide them over, whether that’s discounts on shops or a free gym membership.

Shockingly, we found that 50% of the office workers in the survey did not currently receive any help from their employers in terms of workplace perks.

Over half (52%)  of the respondents said that discounts that could be used on supermarket food shops, leisure activities, and other sources would be the most welcomed. Generationally, around half of respondents from each generation said that this assistance would be the most welcomed by them. We also asked if employers already offer such help, 26% of those surveyed confirmed they have access to discount schemes.

Cashback schemes were another popular choice in the survey, with 31% of respondents selecting this option. Cashback schemes were the most popular with Xennials (37%), Generation X (34%), and Millennials (34%). With cashback schemes being the second most popular choice, it was interesting to see that only 9% of employees say they currently receive such help.

The energy crisis has seen fuel prices fluctuate in recent months, so it’s unsurprising that company cars were another popular form of assistance. 30% of the office workers surveyed selected this option as a form of free help that would be most welcomed by them. Of those that favoured this option, the majority were baby boomers (37%). However, of all respondents, only 7% said they have a company car.

Gym memberships were a popular choice, with 30% of respondents selecting this option. This form of assistance was most favoured by Millennials (34%) and Gen Z (32%). Surprisingly, only 10% of the office workers we spoke to said that their employer provided a gym membership.

Additionally, other welcomed assistance included financial advice (16%), an on-site nursery (13%), and life coaching (9%) – all most favoured by Gen Z and Millennials.

A further 7% of the office workers surveyed said that there was no one particular form of free help that they would welcome more than another. 12% of the office workers surveyed said that their workplace provided financial advice, whilst just 6% had access to life coaching and an even smaller 4% said that their workplace provided an on-site nursery.

On-site facilities

Finally, we wanted to find out which on-site facilities office workers that work in the office either full-time or part-time would most like to see. The respondents were given the option to select up to three responses.

The five most-desired on-site facilities were:

  • Free car parking for employees (47%)
  • Free restaurant for lunch (45%)
  • Free transportation to/from the office (26%)
  • Latest technology in the office (19%)
  • Garden/green space at work (18%)

The most popular choice by far was for workplaces to offer free car parking for employees, with just under half (47%) of respondents saying they would like to see free parking. Of these, 59% of baby boomers highlighted this facility as important to them, alongside 50% of Xennials.

In close second-place was a free restaurant for lunch (45%). With inflation pushing up prices in shops, it’s unsurprising that so many office workers want to see their employer provide them with somewhere to eat at lunchtime for free.

Generationally, a free on-site restaurant was most popular with Xennials and Millennials, with around 47% of each generation selecting this facility as something they would like to see.

Free transport was another big factor for many office workers. 26% of the survey respondents said that they would like to see free transportation to/from the office, with this being most popular amongst Gen Z (32%).

For some, it seems that a workplace filled with the latest technology is what they want from their employer. 19% of the office workers surveyed said that they most wanted to see up-to-date technology, including VR and the latest-model computers in their workplace. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, this response was most common with Generation X (27%) and baby boomers (22%).

Another popular choice was for workplaces to include a garden or other green space, with 18% of respondents selecting this option. Xennials were the generation that most wanted to see green spaces in the workplace, with 21% of respondents from this generation selecting this option.

Many people brought pets into their families during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and are now reluctant to be away from them for long periods of time. 14% of the office workers surveyed said they most wanted to see dogs being allowed into the office, which could be a great mood-booster for those spending long days at work.

Of those that wanted to see pets allowed at work, the majority were Gen Z (21%).

One of the main benefits of working from home was the element of comfort that most people felt, so it’s unsurprising to see that 13% wanted to see comfortable seating areas, such as sofas and beanbags, introduced into the workplace. Once again, it was Gen Z that most favoured this facility (22%).

Other less-popular facilities included:

  • Nap/sleeping pods (8%)
  • Pool table/ping-pong table in the office (8%)
  • Free bar (7%)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, all three facilities were most popular amongst Millennials, Gen Z, and Xennials. Additionally, a further 6% of respondents said they didn’t want to see any particular facilities in the workplace.

Final thoughts

This survey has highlighted that, whilst different generations do have a tendency to want different things in the workplace, there are more similarities than you would initially expect.

Where we saw the most generational variation was in the on-site facilities, with older generations favouring free parking and up-to-date technology, whilst younger generations wanted to see more progressive facilities and workplace perks – such as bringing their pet into the office and making green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Overall, we hope that this report has provided a unique insight into what different generations value in their workplace. We definitely found the results of the survey quite interesting.

Methodology

Censuswide surveyed 1,002 UK office workers over the age of 18. The survey asked them questions about what they would most like to see in the workplace, in terms of financial incentives, on-site facilities, free assistance from employers, and most-desired working styles. The survey was carried out between the 15th November 2022 and the 18th November 2022.

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