America’s employers may have as many as 4 distinct generations in the workforce for the first time in history, a new report points out.

Because each generation carries its own set of values, communication styles and attitudes about work-life balance, this presents a challenge to employers and employee benefits firms trying to suit their needs, according to the study by Unum, Chattanooga, Tenn. And LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn.

Among other trends confronting employers and worksite marketers today is an evolving American household. Single Americans now outnumber married couples with children. Nearly 30% of all children live with a single parent, and many adults are caring for children, spouses or aging parents, notes the report, “HR Trends and Challenges: The Changing U.S. Demographic, Economic and Social Landscape of the Workplace.”

Other factors deeply changing the workplace is the aging of baby boomers, increasing ethnic diversity and rising healthcare costs. Such developments mean that inflexible benefit plans may not suit the requirements of the modern workforce, the study suggests. Wider choices of benefits so they can be tailored to the needs of the individual will become increasingly important, it concludes.