HR Books

Top 16 HR Books to Read in 2020

Emily BarrHR Professionals, Performance Culture, Performance Management


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HR Books


Top 16 HR Books to Read in 2020 


The field of Human Resources is constantly changing, and like any industry, employees who work in Human Resource Management (HRM) must make the effort to continuously educate themselves on the latest trends and best practices. Being aware of the most relevant HR books is a great way to do so. 

Staying up to date with the latest information on how to best succeed in a Human Resources department is more important than ever. From driving industry-leading employee engagement, to what the workforce of the future will look like, there are many important topics that HR professionals can benefit from studying. 

In this article, we will list 16 great Human Resource Management books that will help any HR professional do their job better, whether they are an experienced employee or just getting started in the field. 


Top 16 HR Books


1. The Power of People: Learn How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics to Improve Business Performance

By: Nigel Guenole, Jonathan Ferrar & Sheri Feinzig 

Authors Nigel Guenole, Jonathan Ferrar, and Sheri Feinzig are all respected consultants in HR strategy, workforce analytics, and organizational transformation. Guenole consults with some of the world’s most successful organizations, working to improve their organizational performance through psychological science. Ferrar is listed as one of the global Top 50 HR Analytics Influencers, as well as being one of the 15 HR and People Analytics Experts to Follow. Feinzig has used her expertise on successful projects relating to employee retention, engagement, performance feedback, and organizational culture. 

In The Power of People: Learn How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics to Improve Business Performance, these three HR professionals dissect workforce analytics, discussing how organizations can leverage analytics to inform decision-making, improve communication, and drive performance. This is an excellent primer for workforce analytics, showing how it can be used to predict outcomes and improve on organizational capabilities.  


2. Human Resource Management

By: Gary Dessler 

Author Gary Dessler is a pioneer in terms of Human Resource Management literature, and his scientific work Human Resource Management is arguable one of the most read and studied HR books out there. The latest edition, no. 15, covers all the key aspects of HR. It includes a practical, step-by-step explanation of the key cornerstones of Human Resources. Dessler breaks this down into five parts: recruitment, placement & talent management, training & development, compensation, and employee relations. 


3. HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion

By: Steve Brown 

Steve Brown is an acclaimed writer, speaker, and thought leader in the field of HR. His career efforts have all been aimed towards constructing and connecting a global HR community, facilitating monthly roundtables and running online messaging boards for HR professionals. 

In HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passions, Brown draws on real-life examples and insights in order to encourage all HR professionals to rethink their approaches to the practice itself. He emphasizes the need to let go of any preconceptions of what HR should be, and instead focus on what HR could be.  


4. Standout HR: Transform Your Company’s Human Resources from a Generic, Low-Value Commodity to a Strategic System That Fuels Business Results

By: Vero Vanmiddelem 

Working as a professional in the industry for over 25 years, author Vero Vanmiddelem teaches, writes, and speaks about many HR topics, and is dedicated to helping HR leaders broaden their horizons and embrace the “people side” of their profession.  

In Standout HR: Transform Your Company’s Human Resources From a Generic, Low-Value Commodity to a Strategic System That Fuels Business ResultsVanmiddelem outlines what it takes to redesign an organization’s HRM strategy in order to produce value. She emphasizes how standout HR paths should pave the way to a targeted and customized HR strategy, guiding readers to build a “company-original” HR roadmap for organizational success. 


5. HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

By: Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich 

Dave Ulrich is a university professor, author, speaker, management coach, and management consultant. Working in the HR industry for decades, he and his colleagues have written over 30 HR books that have helped shape the profession, defined organizations as capabilities, and shown the impact of leadership customers and investors. Jon Younger is a fellow HR thought leader, teacher, and early-stage investor, who contributes tremendously to the production of HR textbooks. Wayne Brockbank is a Professor of Business at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, as well as a co-faculty director and core instructor in the school’s Advanced Human Resource Executive Program. 

In HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, Ulrich and his colleagues list the key competencies of the modern HR professional. They outline the importance of an HR professional’s capability building, technology proficiency, championing of change, their ability to innovate and integrate. They go on to argue that one of the most important roles of an HR practitioner is to be a credible activist, both for the employee and for the business as a whole. HR from the Outside In frames the modern HR professional within a larger, strategic context, making it a must-read when it comes to modern HRM. 


6. 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 

Author Erica Keswin is a workplace strategist and business coach, who has spent over 20 years consulting, speaking, and writing in the HR industry. Her book 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, offers ten ways HR professionals can transform their workplace. She argues that this can be done by applying one simple truth to all HR efforts: Smart companies honor relationships. 

Bring Your Human to Work reminds readers that despite the digital age we live in, we cannot forget the value in real, human connections. Keswin provides helpful insights to inspire HR professionals to continue building meaningful relationships in the workplace. 




7. The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional

By: Sharon Armstrong & Barbara Mitchell 

Authors Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell are experienced writers, speakers, consultants, and thought leaders in the HRM industry. In the fully updated 10th edition, The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional covers several trending topics in the current HR industry. Armstrong and Mitchell discuss topics ranging from recruitment through social media, to training a diverse and multigenerational workforce.  

The newest edition of The Essential HR Handbook is a must-read for HR professionals looking for a thorough discussion on the time-honored techniques and newest trends in the field of Human Resources.  


8. Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives

By: Wayne Cascio and John Boudreau 

Wayne Cascio is an American economist and a Distinguished Professor and the Robert H. Reynolds Chair in Global Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, previously the President of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. John Boudreau is widely acknowledged as a breakthrough thinker on human capital, talent, and sustainable competitive advantage in business. His research focuses on the future of the global HR profession, HR measurement and analytics, decision-based HR, executive mobility, HR information systems, and organizational staffing and development. 

Cascio and Boudreau’s work Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives takes a highly structured and data-driven approach to solving common HR problems. The book, though technical, does an excellent job of explaining the foundations of solid measurement in HR, continuing to explore a multitude of case studies. Topics include absenteeism, employee turnover, engagement, and much more, all of which are approached structurally and in detail, with tools being offered to the reader to assess the cost and measure the impact of interventions. This is a highly valuable read when tasked with HR measurement or other quantitative challenges in HR.  


9. HR Disrupted: It’s Time for Something Different

By: Lucy Adams 

Lucy Adams is the CEO of Disruptive HR, an agency that focuses on renewing outdated HR practices. In addition to this, she is a prominent writer, speaker, and thought leader in the world of complex HRM change and the disruption of HR itself. 

HR Disrupted argues that the HR industry itself has lost its way and needs to find a new direction, encouraging HR departments to take a renewed approach to their efforts, eventually working towards changing them completely. This book offers a refreshing perspective on the modern HR industry, sharing useful, eye-opening tips and tangible solutions. 


10. The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance

By: Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and Dave Ulrich 

Brian E. Becker is a Senior Associate Dean Professor in the Organization and Human Resources Department at the University of Buffalo, as well as a prominent author in the field of HR. In The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance, Becker and colleagues explain how people, strategy, and performance can be linked and quantified through HR efforts. 

HRM has never been regarded as a strict science. For many HR professionals, aligning HRM activities with the organization-specific strategy, and measuring their impacts on the workforce, can be a challenge. However, when done well, it enables HR departments to quantify impacts and measure the effectiveness of their efforts.  


Sprigg Performance Management
Sprigg Performance Management


11. Data-Driven HR: How to Use Analytics and Metrics to Drive Performance

By: Bernard Marr 

Author Bernard Marr is a best-selling author, acclaimed keynote speaker, strategic advisor to companies and governments, and recognized by LinkedIn as one of the world’s top give business influencers. He has produced a number of books relating to big data and analytics in business, contributing frequently to the World Economic Forum. 

In his book Data-Driven HR: How to Use Analytics and Metrics to Drive Performance, Marr outlines the ways in which data analyses can contribute to organizational success, driving performance, optimizing processes, and improving decision-making in HRM. He encourages HR professionals to leverage the data available to them. This book is a great resource for any HR professional looking to embrace innovation through data and technology. 


12. Agile People: A Radical Approach for HR & Managers (That Leads to Motivated Employees)

 By: Pia-Maria Thoren 

Author Pia-Maria Thoren is the founder of the Agile People movement, specializing in agile HR and leadership and consulting for some of the largest international companies in Sweden. 

Her work Agile People: A Radical Approach for HR & Managers (That Leads to Motivated Employees) outlines the ways that HR professionals can adopt flexible, fluid mindsets, creating a structure and workplace culture that is geared to meet future challenges. Thoren emphasizes that the key to motivated and successful teams is in HR professionals’ ability to become agile, stepping outside of their comfort zone and adapting to newer ways of thinking. 

This HR book is a must-read for any professional looking to become an agile leader. It is a thorough guide to embracing an agile mindset, one that can help drive cultural change in the workplace and prepare the organization for future challenges. 


13. 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 and Mike Ulrich 

Another work by Ulrich and colleagues, Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It takes a closer look at the function of HR itself. The discussion in this book is founded on an HR competency study involving over 30,000 HR professionals, business leaders and associates. 

Based on this research, Victory Through Organization provides its readers with everything they need to know about how HR can add the most value to an organization. It outlines how value can be created for HR, the employee, the business, investors, owners, communities, and line managers. It also discusses the HR activities that are rated best, and which add the most value. Themes like employee performance, integrated HR practices, HR analytics, and HR information management are also explored. 


14. Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement

By: Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey 

Author Glenn Elliott is an award-winning Entrepreneur of the Year, acclaimed CEO and prominent growth investor. He is the founder of Reward Gateway, making him a category leader in employee engagement technology. His colleague Debra Corey possesses over 30 years of experience in senior HR roles at many well-known, global organizations. 

Their book Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement outlines a model for building company value through sustainable employee engagement. Discussing what they refer to as “The Engagement Bride”, the book emphasizes the key areas that leaders should assess in their organizations in order to build an engaged company culture. This work shares a unique and useful approach to the construction of an engaged workforce, drawing on case studies and offering actionable tips to help HR professionals transform the workplace. 


15. On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out

By: Eric Chester 

Author Eric Chest is an award-winning author and speaker, and is also a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a prestigious credential awarded by the National Speakers Associated. He is also a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame, a title of which only 5% of professional speakers around the world share. 

In his book On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out, Chester compiled exclusive interviews with over 25 company founders and CEOs. The book is a practical guide that can help any company build an engaged and successful workforce. Chester lays out a roadmap for creating an inspiring work culture that employees will love, serving as a handbook for attracting and retaining exceptional talent at any organization. It is a must-read for any HR professional looking to inspire the modern workforce. 


16. Predictive HR Analytics: Mastering the HR Metric

by Kirsten & Martin Edwards 

Dr. Martin R. Edwards is a leader in HRM and Organizational Psychology and King’s College in London, and has worked for a number of years as an HR consultant. Kirsten Edwards is an analytics professional, working in HR and management consulting and also as a visiting lecturer at Kent Business School and King’s Business School. Their book Predictive HR Analytics: Mastering the HR Metric is often used as reading material for HR analytics classes. 

Predictive HR Analytics explores HR metrics and analytics in much more detail. Drawing on a multitude of case studies, the book explores the metrics and analytics related to diversity, employee attitudes, employee turnover, employee performance, recruitment analytics, and much more. While the above listed books help guide readers into what HRM is all about, and how these areas can be used to strategically support an organization, Edwards’ book shows how the progress in these areas can actually be measured. 

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