I’m greatly enjoying my participation this week at the HR Directors Business Summit in Birmingham, UK. I’ve already learned a tremendous amount and am looking forward to some interesting sessions on Gen Y tomorrow.

Today, Professor Lynda Gratton from London Business School led us in a great start, sharing shared research on the "Future of Work." She described the five forces at work, which are creating the future: Globalisation, Technology, Demography, Low Carbon and Society Changes. Key insights she offered for coping in this new world are:

1) Encourage collaboration, especially online between teams and the generations
2) Encourage open innovation
3) Build strong cultures & values
4) Invest in your own ability to have specialist skills
5) Realise the days of the generalist are ending fast

Professor Paddy Miller from IESE Business School really captured my attention with his definition of employee engagement. Contrary to the many finely crafted definitions we’ve all seen, his was that engagement is a Puzzle! Each puzzle has similar parts, but each company needs to figure their own puzzle solution. I couldn’t agree more. There is no cookie-cutter solution to employee engagement. Each company must (to borrow from Professor Gratton) build on their own values to create strong cultures in which engagement can thrive.

I presented myself today on strategic recognition and how it varies from other more traditional employee recognition. I was delighted to share the platform with our client Ingrid Waterfield, UK Head of Rewards at KPMG. She took the audience through the case study of their journey at KPMG as she shared the dramatic increases in levels of participation in their recognition programme, even as budget costs were reduced! If you’d like to hear more about this, watch the webinar KPMG recently presented.

More tomorrow from the HR Directors Business Summit. In the meantime, do you see any additional forces at work that are creating the future of how (and why) we work? What’s your definition of engagement? Do you think it’s a puzzle, unique to each company, or more universal to most?

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