In the industry of Human Resources, literature relative to the profession is readily available by the dozen. Whether your field is performance management, recruiting, or any other HR function, plenty of material is at your disposal. In the ever-changing playing field of HR, it’s imperative to stay on top of new theories and strategies that emerge to adapt to shifts in workplaces and their culture. Authors are oftentimes seasoned experts on the subtopics and nuances within HR, and it is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to learn and develop crucial skills needed to advance your career and stay on top of industry trends.
While HR books are readily available, some miss the mark. You might be looking to learn about a very niche aspect of HR, and it’s important to be sure the book you’re picking up and reading at the end of the day is relevant to your needs.
You may listen to audiobooks while driving, read a paperback before sleep, or sit down with an e-reader to relax after a long day. Whatever medium you choose to digest literature, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of the 16 best HR books.
1. HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich, 2012
HR From the Outside In explores competencies needed for the future of human resources. Written in collaboration by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, and Mike Ulrich, this book covers HR’s horizon and how to approach technological, societal, economical, demographic, political, and economic changes from the outside in.
It is a technical and thought provoking read on handling many potential changes in the workplace by starting and grounding your work in the business – hence the outside in. Using this approach, HR From the Outside In will provide readers with the tools and framework to bring even more value to a business’s HR.
2. The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance by Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and Dave Ulrich, 2001
Regarded as something of an HR professional’s bible, The HR Scorecard serves as a seven-step guide that links business strategy to HR objectives. Throughout this book, authors Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and Dave Ulrich draw on the study of nearly 3000 firms to definitively outline the steps allowing businesses to measure the performance, efficiency and alignment of their HR functions.
The HR Scorecard, created and published in 2001, has served countless HR professionals with a new approach to properly implement a strategy that aligns business and their HR. Surely a must-have for any HR professional’s bookshelf.
3. Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It by Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich, 2017
The talent war – one of the biggest challenges facing modern HR professionals. In an environment of rapid growth and expansion, it has become increasingly difficult to find the best people for the job. Competing among a massive hiring force for the perfect employee with aligning values, drive and motivation can seem impossible. In Victory Through Organization, this dilemma is tackled by USA Today bestselling author Dave Ulrich alongside David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank, and Mike Ulrich.
In this 2017 publication, the focus is shifted away from the war for talent, and directed towards helping individuals thrive in your organization. The goal of this approach is to create a value within the organization that is greater than its individual parts. Through fact-based research and examples, Ulrich, Kryscynski, Brockbank and Ulrich demonstrate how HR professionals can operate in an effort to grow competitively.
4. The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, 2017
Every year, HR professionals rely on gut feelings and unscientific methods to make critical business decisions. This decision making process has cost organizations billions in solutions that don’t hit the mark. In 2017’s The Talent Delusion, the common mistake of relying on intuition is remedied by a more scientific approach that leverages data to make evidence-based decisions.
Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic discusses the science in people’s organizational behaviour, and how HR professionals can measure, understand, and predict it in order to find and retain top talent in today’s modern workforce. A must-read for anyone looking for a fresh perspective on making critical HR decisions.
5. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead By Laszlo Bock, 2015
Google is widely regarded as one of the best places to work. But why?
Google has consistently been able to strike a perfect balance between creativity and structure. Laszlo Bock, former senior vice president of people operations at Google, and author of WORK RULES! writes about the behavioural economics and psychology behind striking that perfect balance that has made Google a talent powerhouse.
Whether you’re an HR professional or entrepreneur, WORK RULES! provides a groundwork to building a great company from within rather than the top down. This engaging and fun read will show you how to measure your business’s success by the quality of your employees’ lives.
6. HR Disrupted: It’s Time for Something Different by Lucy Adams, 2017
Lucy Adams believes HR is lost and is in desperate need of a new direction, and disruption is the key. In this 2017 publication, Adams sets out to discover how HR professionals can change the way they lead workforces in a rapidly changing environment.
In this book, you will be challenged on the way you think. How do you view your people? How do you treat them? How do you make people-driven decisions? Hr Disrupted provides guidance on how to change these processes so you can begin to work with employees in an equitable manner.
7. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, 2013
Nobel Prize winning author of Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman sets out to explore the way we think. Kahneman takes the reader on a journey through the mind where two separate methods of thinking take place – fast and slow. System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional while system 2 is a slow operating thought process that is calculated, analytic and logical.
Thinking, Fast and Slow outlines the influence and impact each of these systems have on our decision making, especially in our work lives. Knowing how these two sides of the mind work can help HR professionals leverage their own behaviour and judgement in the workplace to make more effective decisions. Relying less on intuition, and letting slow thinking help you make fact based decisions may be the difference maker in your work.
8. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham, Ashley Goodall, 2019
As an HR professional, there is often a common groundwork laid for how to approach your job and the people you work for. “The best people are well-rounded,” “people care which company they work for,” “leadership is a thing.”
These are 3 of the nine lies in Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall’s Nine Lies About Work.
In this 2019 book, Buckingham and Goodall dive into these common lies about the nature of work and why they are so prominent today. For freethinking leaders, Nine Lies About Work shows how to focus on building a strong workplace by focusing on the employees that make them rather than the business itself.
9. HR Rising!!: From Ownership to Leadership by Steve Browne, 2020
HR Rising!! is a book that discusses the power human resources wields, and what it can do to truly improve the lives of people, businesses and yourself.
Bestselling author Steve Browne offers insights into bringing change into the workplace, fostering connections and building trust.
10. Belonging at Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate an Inclusive Organization by Rhodes Perry, MPA, 2018
The feeling of belonging at work is something that we all want – HR professionals included. Working at a job where you don’t quite fit can really hurt your productivity, focus, and motivation, often leading to higher turnover. As an employer, it’s important to know how to create that synergy in the workplace that gives your employees that satisfaction knowing they belong. It’s not an easy task, but this is what Rhodes Perry discusses in Belonging at Work.
Written in 2018, Belonging at Work provides guidance for leaders to create a space that is inclusive and can make their employees feel valued. With an abundance of case studies and personal experience from Perry, it’s hard not to see how you can make your employees feel like they belong.
11. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson, 2018
When you think of safety in the workplace, you may think of fire exits, hazardous material training and PPE, but what about psychological safety?
A safe space to foster innovative dialogue and let free thought flow can enhance the creativity of your team more than you might think.
In Amy C. Edmonston’s 2018 book, The Fearless Organization, Edmonston explores the topic of fostering psychological safety in the workplace. Providing your employees with an environment that can generate new and creative ideas is extremely valuable, and The Fearless Organization shows leaders exactly how they can create this kind of space.
12. The Practical Guide to HR Analytics: Using Data to Inform, Transform, and Empower HR Decisions by Shonna D. Waters, Valerie N. Streets, Lindsay McFarlane, and Rachael Johnson-Murray, 2018
In today’s modern workplaces, using HR analytics is paramount to an organization’s success. In The Practical Guide to HR Analytics, authors Shonna D. Waters, Valerie N. Streets, Lindsay McFarlane, and Rachael Johnson-Murray create a thorough guide on how to best leverage data while making critical HR decisions.
13. Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance by Lars Schmidt, 2021
Lars Schmidt is a leading HR innovator, and the author of 2021’s Redefining HR. In this book, Schmidt provides readers with a unique perspective into the field of talent management, recruiting and more. Redefining HR’s forward-thinking guide on human resources focuses on progressive ideas and practices from various HR innovators in business – Reddit, Stripe, Hubspot, and more are featured.
If you are interested in changing the status quo of your workplace to help your employees reach their full potential, Redefining HR is for you.
14. The 9 Faces of HR: A Disruptor’s Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change by Kris Dunn, 2019
As an individual in human resources, it’s important to be aware of who you are and how you work. That’s why Kris Dunn wrote The 9 Faces of HR. In this entertaining read, 9 archetypes in human resources are explored in an effort to help readers understand themselves and other HR professionals they will encounter in their careers.
Dunn provides readers with the opportunity to look inwards through The 9 Faces of HR in a practical and no-nonsense type of way.
The cop, the assassin, the judge, what face of HR are you?
15. HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion by Steve Browne, 2017
Can you be in HR for over 30 years and still get excited about it?
The answer is yes.
In HR on Purpose, Steve Browne discusses many real-life examples, insights and experiences to highlight the many misconceptions of HR. Browne takes an in-depth look at what HR can be, rather than what people believe HR should be. This is a great read for any individual looking for motivation and change with their HR role.
16. Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World by Erica Keswin, 2018
Humans and work – two things that don’t always go together.
In Bring Your Human to Work, workplace strategist and business coach Erica Keswin explores businesses such as Lyft, Starbucks and SoulCycle to uncover what makes a workplace human-friendly.
It is a nuanced subject, but Keswin makes the guide on creating positive and trusting relationships with your employees easy to follow. As an HR professional, this book will give you some fantastic insights on making your workplace more welcoming to your people.
Bonus Read: The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature by Julia Levashina, 2013
At VidCruiter, we are a big proponent of structured interviews. Structured interviews are a recruiting best practice, and ensures that candidates are given the same questions in the same order to give an objective ranking of each candidate. Many unstructured interviews experience the pitfalls of hiring bias and can reduce the chance of finding the right candidates for the job.
The Structured Employment Interview, an article in the 67th volume of Personnel Psychology, talks about structured interviews and how they can be applied to the hiring process. It includes in depth research and interesting conclusions that can help recruiters implement structure into their hiring. An intriguing academic read for recruiters looking to give their candidates a more equitable and fair shot at the job.