New look for the workplace as the next generation takes over

Two "mid-career" businesswomen were talking about workplace etiquette over lunch.

Two "mid-career" businesswomen were talking about workplace etiquette over lunch.

Both were dressed conservatively, with blouses and tailored jackets, the longstanding uniform for professional women.

Both were criticising a new, young hire who wore trendy, low-cut summer tops to work. Worst of all, the new recruit wore flip-flops to the office.

"I'm sick of seeing people's gnarly toes," one of them said.

Whatever you think about feet, the conversation showcased a generational difference in the workplace - a divide that goes beyond wardrobes.

Listen to Max Valiquette, chief executive of Youthography.

Valiquette splits time between Los Angeles and Toronto for his business, which does research, consulting and marketing about youth culture.

Valiquette says most under-30 workers would be shocked that their work performance evaluations can be affected by what they wear.

"They don't understand the reason for rules that don't hurt productivity," he said.

Today's 20-something workers also don't understand why some employers block their access to Internet sites, or instant messaging.

Older workers might cringe, but here's what Valiquette finds:

"There's a huge gap between how young and older people approach the workplace, partly because of the young people's comfort with technology and partly because young people feel they're in control of pretty much everything. They have been raised that way. Their parents and teachers fed them self-esteem."- The Kansas City Star