Best HR management books to read right now
Engagement 6 minute read

Best HR management books to read right now

Rise | October 20, 2020

HR management books are a great resource for human resources professionals to stay on top of industry trends and keep their HR skills sharp.

As an HR professional, you need to be versed in a myriad of workplace and HR topics. To name just a few: employee engagement, how to effectively manage employee performance, company culture, the ins and outs of succession planning, talent management, organizational culture (similar to but not quite the same as company culture), and crafting a strong talent management strategy. 

Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts Limited, sums it up nicely: “Human resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”

One way to continue sharpening your HR competency, knowledge and skills is through reading HR management books, penned by other human resources managers or industry experts with decades of experience. 

To get you started, we've rounded up a few of the best HR management books. 

HR management books to add to your library

Here's our list of popular HR management books, in no particular order. To make it easy to share or bookmark, we’ve linked to each book’s listing on Amazon Canada.  

1. HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion by Steve Browne

One reviewer describes this book as “the most honest, straight from the heart HR book” they’ve ever come across, and notes that “it doesn’t talk about complex processes, charts, graphs, policies, AI, etc. It talks about the most important and fundamental aspect of the HR profession, THE PEOPLE.” 

Its author, Steve Browne, is described as “an accomplished speaker, writer, and thought leader on Human Resource Management for more than 30 years”, someone who has “held HR roles in various industries, including manufacturing, consumer products, professional services, and restaurants.” 

In other words, he’s someone worth reading. 

2. The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Era by Amy Blankson

Amy Blankson outlines five strategies you can use to thrive in the digital age, including how to stay grounded and focus on improving productivity, how to use data from apps "to help you live to your fullest potential", how to be a conscious innovator and help make the world a better place, and more.

As the book’s description states: “By rethinking when, where, why, and how you use technology, you will not only influence your own well-being but also help shape the future of your community. Discover how technologies can transform the idea of “I’ll be happy when...” to being happy now”.

3. HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich 

This reviewer sums up why this HR management book is one you want to read: 

“When you list the departments of a business and rank them according to their perceived (not actual) contributions to the bottom line, human resources is sadly given short shrift. What is surprising is the fact that many HR professionals are among those who don’t recognize their critical role in delivering value to a company. In HR From the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, authors Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich take the results of their massive research undertaking and chart a new course for HR in the 21st century.

Reinforced by memorable case studies, HR From the Outside In provides all of the tools to help HR assume its place among every company’s most admired departments.” 

4. Do More Great Work: Stop The Busywork. Start The Work That Matters by Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier, a Canadian business consultant, discusses spending productive time at work rather than “busy time”. As touted by some readers, “this book is the definitive guide to achieving higher productivity in the workplace and becoming a great worker who relies on creativity to reach his (or her) goals.”

If you constantly find yourself complaining that “there aren’t enough hours in the day” to get everything done, we heartily recommend this book. Being distracted by “busy work” and unproductive meetings lowers the quality of your work and increases your stress levels. The exercises Stanier provides can help you take back control of your work hours, including how to manage your seemingly endless workload and improve the likelihood that you’ll do what you actually want to do.

As the book’s description says, “Do More Great Work will not only help you identify what the Great Work of your life is, it will tell you how to do it.”

5. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

This HR management book has some impressive accolades. It’s a New York Times bestseller, a Wall Street Journal Bestseller, a Globe and Mail Top Leadership and Management Book, and a Forbes Top Creative Leadership Book. 

Written by Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google, the book is described as “a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work—and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.” 

“Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries—including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees.” 

6. The Essential HR Handbook, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional by Sharon Armstrong & Barbara Mitchell

One reviewer praises this book as “a great addition to my reference materials. It is equally useful for anyone who is a manager needing up-to-date information on both best HR practices and current laws.” 

Its description states that “since 2008, busy managers by the tens of thousands have turned to this bestselling book as a handy guide to the ins and outs of human resources. And no wonder! Because whether you're a small business owner, a manager in a business without an HR department, or even a seasoned HR professional, The Essential HR Handbook will help you handle any personnel problem—from onboarding to outplacement—quickly and easily. This fully updated 10th anniversary edition is packed with information, tools, checklists, sample forms, and timely tips to guide you through the maze of personnel issues in today's complex business environment.” 

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