I’m not alone in finding a visual way to express myself at work. Increasingly amongst friends, clients, and colleagues, I’ve observed a clear and public stand for self-expression in the form of permanent markers, such as visible tattoos, or via fleeting ones, such as the colorful sock selections that men sport with increasing frequency today. And as more young professionals participate, I predict standards of etiquette and tolerance inside the workplace will shift.

This evolution in culture is being led by Millennials, who more so than previous generations want to work for employer brands that align with their personal ones and use Twitter and Instagram to vet companies for authenticity.

Self-expression via personal style also highlights our country’s shifting notions of sexual and gender identity. Re-appropriating traditional garb like the suit, tie or high-heeled shoe is also flouting traditional masculine and feminine norms when those identities are transforming. A conversation currently about bathrooms may shift focus to the board room in the coming years as the high costs for men and women of conformity to rigid, heteronormative standards are better understood.

How can employees and employers reduce their respective anxieties and create a more productive and inclusive future of work? For millennial professionals, I suggest they share with colleagues and managers what’s important to them by choosing self-expression through a medium such as personal style and reconsider their beliefs that those around them who may be unfamiliar are inherently unaccepting.

Employers targeting millennials can start by recognizing the link between their most urgent business objectives and self-expression. According to a recent PWC survey, 77% of CEOs name creativity as their greatest skill shortage, so providing an environment that actively fosters creativity is essential. Further, numerous studies have proven the positive impact on employee engagement, retention and performance when companies focus on individual expression rather than group

The workplace is changing more rapidly than ever before and a new wave of personal style choices is one prominent expression. Employees and employers can embrace and support respectively these changes knowing that they lead to better performance outcomes, greater innovation and deeper professional satisfaction for all.

Anastasia Alt is the founder and CEO of Pathspark.

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