NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you're a fan of dogs in the office, wellness programs and jeans at work, this may be the year for you. Here's a look at 10 of the top workplace trends rolling out this year at companies across the U.S.
1. You won't have to wear as many suits.
More companies are moving away from the "stuffiness" of formal work attire, says Andy McCall, managing partner at recruitment firm McCall & Lee.
"It's one of those things where a tie used to be required, or a suit coat, but companies are taking it down a notch, and now the tie is off. A lot of companies allow jeans all week," he says. "Casual Fridays are every day."
Even on interviews with some companies it's now acceptable to wear a polo shirt and slacks, and that casual vibe is only expected to continue in 2015.
"Today it's what you do at work that matters," he says.
2. There will be more emphasis on your future.
Many companies know they'll be facing a shortage of leadership talent in the decade ahead, and they're keeping an eye out for employees who can step into management roles, says Joe Ungemah, vice president at member-based advisory company CEB.
"Shifts in demographics, the recent recession and a decrease in development budgets have culminated in a scarcity of ready-now successors who could comfortably take on more responsibility," Ungemah says. "To solve for this issue, organizations are turning towards identifying and developing early career talent who have the best chances of making it to an executive level role and thriving there."
3. You may find a mentor in the office next door.
Companies want to retain top talent, and this year they'll be investing more in career development for existing employees. Yes, this means training seminars and leadership sessions, but it also means real hands-on mentorship and coaching, says Angela Hills, executive vice president and managing director at HR consultancy Cielo.
"Companies are going to provide mentors within their organization, offering more genuine connections," Hills says. "They know that people can leave and go to another company if they want, so they're doing more than just paying for someone to attend a leadership retreat."
4. People will be wearing more tech.
Wearable technology has been around for a while, but 2015 will be the year we see it emerge more in the workplace, says Shehryar Khan, principal at Deloitte Consulting and mobile and web practice leader at design and development agency Deloitte Digital.
"Many companies will be implementing wearable devices for workforce automation — giving their employees context specific, relevant information when they need it straight to their wearable device, thus enabling them to do their jobs much more efficiently," Khan says.
While wearables won't be an "overnight success" at workplaces across the country, Khan says decision-makers should start planning for how wearables can fit into and improve their overall digital strategy.
5. You can bring your dog (or cat) to work.
Companies that can't offer employees 100% work-from-home schedules are trying to make the office feel more like home, and pets are one way they're doing that, McCall says.
"In this marketplace, it's tough to find good people, and companies are willing to go the extra mile to make sure employees feel comfortable, that they have perks beyond just coffee and a paycheck," he says.
6. More money won't always translate to career development.
This year it's going to be easy to "jump ship for more money," Hills says, but the extra cash won't always equate to more professional development.
"If you're looking for growth, the job that's offering you the most money may not be the one that's going to provide the right career trajectory," she says. "There will be an increased need for employees to be really clear about what they want to learn and accomplish over the next few years so they make the right choices in the market."
It's easy to be lured away to another job that sounds great, Hills says, but before you accept an offer, ask yourself, "Where do I want to be in five years, and how is this job going to help me get there?"
7. You won't have to keep the same schedule Monday through Friday.
Flexible hours are a common offering at many companies today, McCall says, but this year companies may be even more flexible when allowing people to work from home, come in late or leave early.
"When people have a sick child or need to make it to a doctor's appointment or game, it almost goes without saying that you'll be able to do that," he says.
Many companies will also look at implementing a four-day workweek whenever possible, allowing employees to work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.
8. You'll see more diversity.
Historically, employees who lead digital marketing, e-commerce and infrastructure technology groups within companies have been male, says Jeremy Cohen, general manager at executive search firm The Talent Studios.
"The uniformity of this executive demographic is troubling, particularly for companies that have a multi-ethnic and multi-gender customer base," he says. "Companies that have embraced proactive technology management diversity have scored big wins with engaging consumers."
Expect more companies to support programs that seek out and empower female technology leaders.
9. You may have incentive to lose weight.
This year, employers will achieve a new realization of what a successful wellness program entails, how to better measure results and how to encourage participation by incorporating health into corporate culture, says Bridgette M. O'Connor, wellness account executive at CBIZ Wellness Solutions.
"'Wellness' encourages a variety of workplace activities and improvements: yoga classes, stand-up desks, fitness trackers and healthy cafeteria choices," she says.
10. You may use mobile even more than before — and stay home more often.
Mobile is nothing new, but this year employers will enable mobile access to systems and programs like never before, Hills describes.
"Employees are going to see more flexibility and better work/life balance. Organizations are being pressured to interact on a whole new level," she says. "Companies are going to be making it easier for people to dial in and do things when they want, where they want."
— By Kathryn Tuggle for MainStreet