Every year, shifting circumstances inside and outside the workplace force HR teams to adapt and reevaluate their People strategies. Human Resources books offer those professionals a path for staying current, improving skills, and learning the ins and outs of their field.

Whether you’re early in your career, leading your organization’s People strategy, or starting your own business, reading about HR is a great way to develop a fresh and informed perspective on the world of work.

For anyone interested in expanding their HR knowledge, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite books below:

HR Strategy

1. People Strategy: How to Invest in People and Make Culture Your Competitive Advantage

Author(s): Jack Altman
Audience:
HR leaders, managers, and executives

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller, People Strategy provides a unique framework for executives, HR teams, and people leaders to build effective and authentic company cultures, increase employee motivation, and drive high-performing teams. By outlining a step-by-step plan for supporting employee growth and success, Lattice CEO and co-founder Jack Altman demonstrates how adopting a people-centric HR strategy creates meaningful work experiences and inevitably drives business results.

“Ask yourself this: you wouldn’t go into your annual planning stage without a sales strategy or a marketing strategy or a product strategy, so why would you go forward without a People strategy?”

2. Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance

Author(s): Lars Schmidt
Audience:
HR professionals and business leaders

As the founder of the HR firm, Amplify, Lars Schmidt has spent over 20 years driving innovation in the HR industry. Redefining HR walks readers through the evolution of Human Resources and People Operations, with a focus on the fundamentals of successful HR practices at leading companies like Hubspot, Reddit, and Asana. Intended as a practical playbook for modern HR teams, this bestselling book explores the future of human resources, from recruiting and talent management to analytics and ROI.


“Next-generation HR leaders (and teams) are much more secure in their impact on the business. They are focused on success enablement and designing programs that allow leaders to lead and employees to thrive.”

3. Work Rules!

Author(s): Lazlo Bock
Audience:
HR professionals and business leaders

Companies have long regarded Google as a symbol of excellent corporate culture and strategy. As their former VP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock has gained invaluable knowledge from driving Google's reputation as a top employer for over 30 years. InWork Rules! Bock shares several HR best practices that made Google successful, such as learning from high and low-performing employees and relying on data rather than gut instincts. As a proven guide for building successful HR strategies,Work Rules! is considered one of the best HR books available.

“If you believe people are fundamentally good and worthy of trust, you must be honest and transparent with them. That includes telling them when they are lagging behind in their performance. But having a mission-driven, purposeful workplace also requires that you approach people with sensitivity.”

4. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't

Author(s): Simon Sinek
Audience:
Business leaders

Many people know Simon Sinek from his viral TED Talks, but in addition to being a motivational speaker, Sinek is also a bestselling author. In Leaders Eat Last, he urges readers to imagine a world where people feel inspired and trusted at work on a daily basis. Sinek places the onus on business leaders to put their employees first, drawing from the leadership practices of Marine Corps Officers as an example of successful management. As an added bonus, Sinek includes an entire chapter devoted to effectively leading the millennial workforce.

“For [leaders], the will to succeed and the desire to do things that advance the interests of the organization aren't just motivated by recognition from above; they are integral to a culture of sacrifice and service, in which protection comes from all levels of the organization.”

Growth & Performance

5. High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups From 10 to 10,000 People

Author(s): Elad Gil
Audience:
CEOs, founders, and executives

Elad Gil has been a driving force behind  companies like Airbnb, Square, and Twitter. Drawing from his experience as an investor and entrepreneur, High Growth Handbook is Gil’s playbook for growing a startup into a major corporate enterprise. This definitive guide covers a range of topics for growing companies, from the role of CEOs to best practices for hiring. Interviews with top Silicon Valley business leaders are included throughout the book and are chock-full of valuable insights for ambitious organizations.

“Every high-growth company eventually needs to tackle the same set of challenges around organizational structure...Since most founders are dealing with these issues for the first time –– and navigating many of them simultaneously –– hypergrowth tends to feel like a hyperstressful roller coaster.”

6. Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation

Author(s): Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi
Audience:
HR Leaders and managers

As co-founders of Vega Factor, Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi are experts in building high-performance cultures. In Primed to Perform, they explore how businesses can tap into human psychology to achieve sustained  innovation across organizations. They also delve into the practical applications of Total Motivation (ToMo) Factor, a predictive measurement tool that enables businesses to measure the strength of their culture and track improvements over time. The end result is higher sales, more loyal customers, and more passionate employees.

“The highest-performing cultures are built on a simple truth: why people work affects how well they work.”

7. The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

Author(s): Hubert Joly
Audience:
HR leaders and executives

It’s easy to see corporate America as a negative result of capitalism; companies make decisions to maximize money, often at the expense of everything else. You may be surprised to hear a former CEO argue against this model. Hubert Joly’s book offers what he calls “a far more inspiring and positive alternative to the traditional notion of work,” where companies aren’t single-mindedly focused on profits. Instead, they need to consider all of its stakeholders, including its employees, to create an inspiring purpose for people to unite behind, which leads to engaged employees, which then results in better business results. Businesses should be a force for good, but in order for that to happen, you need to start with the people instead of the profits.

“Capitalism as we have known it for the past few decades is in crisis. More and more people hold the system responsible for social fractures and environmental degradation. Employees, customers, and even shareholders expect much more from corporations than a blind pursuit of profit.”

8. Talent Makers: How the Best Organizations Win Through Structured and Inclusive Hiring

Author(s): Daniel Chait and Jon Stross
Audience:
CEOs, hiring managers, and talent recruiters

As the co-founders of talent acquisition platform Greenhouse, Daniel Chait and Jon Stross know a thing or two about hiring. In Talent Makers, they share proven methodologies for business leaders who want to transform their organization's hiring practices to attract top talent, diversify workforces, and build winning teams. They even include a “hiring maturity” model so that businesses can evaluate and measure the effectiveness of their existing hiring and onboarding practices.

“Your HR department needs you to step up and not just say but show that hiring is a priority. You need to create the space for people on your team to work on the business, as well as in the business.”

9. Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It

Author(s): M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish
Audience:
Managers

As talent management experts, M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish have a lot to say about the power of feedback in the workplace. Their book, Feedback (and Other Dirty Words), takes an unfiltered look at why feedback can feel like a negative thing to many people and presents an alternative perspective of feedback as a tool for trust and collaboration. Chandler and Grealish also offer actionable strategies for providing feedback equitably and effectively to create a strong feedback culture within your organization.


“If so many of us are walking around wounded by our feedback experiences, then it’s obvious that we’re doing it wrong as a culture. We’ve got our work cut out for us: rebranding feedback as something we want to run toward and not away from is going to require some serious changes to both out heads and our hearts.” 

Culture & Retention

10. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

Author(s): Daniel Coyle
Audience:
HR leaders, managers, and executives

If you’ve ever wondered why some teams work well together while others don’t, this book may explain why. Daniel Coyle says the answer is culture, or cultural chemistry, which turns a group of individuals into a successful team. He shares research, stories, and examples of companies with collaborative cultures and identifies three essential tenets of good corporate culture: build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose. Whether you’re trying to strengthen a good team or fix a bad one, there are actionable ideas for all.


“Like any language, belong cues can’t be reduced to an isolated moment but rather consist of a steady pulse of interactions within a social relationship. Their function is to answer the ancient, ever-present questions glowing in our brains: Are we safe here? What’s our future with these people? Are there dangers lurking?”

11. Love 'Em Or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

Author(s): Beverly L. Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans
Audience:
Managers

Beverly Kaye are Sharon Jordan-Evans are HR executives who provide talent retention, engagement, and management services to enterprise-level corporations. The two of them combined their expertise in solving workplace challenges to create the bestseller Love ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em, which outlines how managers can build a supportive environment to fight burnout and hold on to top-performers. The book is structured around twenty-six strategies lettered from A-Z, and the newest edition contains specific emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

“[Many managers] believe retention is largely about money, perks, and benefits –– areas where they have little control. We know that is not true. In addition to fair pay, people want challenging and meaningful work.”

12. 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

Author(s): Erica Keswin
Audience:
Business and HR leaders

Cited as one of Business Insider’s most innovative coaches of 2020, Erica Keswin is an expert on science of workplace relationships. She’s also the author of the Wall Street bestseller, Bring Your Human to Work, which argues that companies who recognize the human need for connection will have productive, creative, and loyal employees The book features numerous case studies from top brands like Lyft, and Starbucks to illustrate the importance of building an organizational culture centered around wellness and humanity both in and out of the workplace.

“Bringing our human to work is both about putting technology in its place in order to build strong relationships and about inhibiting technology to the table, making good use of everything that can create a more human workplace.”

13. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Author(s): Kim Scott
Audience:
Business and HR leaders

Most of us are not great at giving (or receiving) feedback, but communication is crucial for driving individuals and organizations forward. And without radical candor — caring personally and challenging directly — bad behavior within a company can go unchecked and problems are not solved but merely temporarily covered up. Kim Scott explains the framework around radical candor (and its related but dangerous counterparts like ruinous empathy) to help you manage up, down, and in every direction inside an organization.


“If you think that you can [fulfill your responsibilities as a manager] without strong relationships, you are kidding yourself. I’m not saying that unchecked power, control, or authority can’t work. They work especially well in a baboon troop or a totalitarian regime. But if you’re reading this book, that’s not what you’re shooting for.”

14. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

Author(s): Amy C. Edmondson
Audience:
HR leaders, managers, and executives

Companies can hire tons of smart, talented people, but without psychological safety, or “a climate where people are comfortable expressing and being themselves,” those people will not thrive. Ideas need to be shared, concerns voiced, and mistakes admitted without fear in order for teams to perform at their best. Amy Edmondson not only explains why psychological safety is crucial for working better together, but also provides ways to create it.


“But in a psychologically safe workplace, people are not hindered by interpersonal fear. They feel willing and able to take the inherent interpersonal risks of candor. They fear holding back their full participation more than they fear sharing a potentially sensitive, threatening, or wrong idea."

Diversity & Inclusion

15. Unleashing the Power of Diversity: How to Open Minds for Good

Author(s): Bjørn Z. Ekelund
Audience:
HR professionals, business leaders, managers

Bjørn Z. Ekelund is the chairman of HR management company, Human Factors. Known internationally as the creator of the Diversity Icebreaker® –– a popular training and development program used in over 70 countries –– Ekelund outlines his approach to breaking down barriers in his book, Unleashing the Power of Diversity. His plan teaches readers how to improve communication between people from various cultural experiences, with the goal of unifying organizations in a way that is authentic and sustainable.


“Using one’s own standards, norms, and values as the reference point means the reference point is usually implicitly and explicitly, consciously or unconsciously self-evaluated as a ‘gold standard.”

16. Belonging at Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate an Inclusive Organization

Author(s): Rhodes Perry
Audience:
Business and HR leaders

Rhodes Perry is a leading voice in the growing dialogue around workplace inclusivity who believes that cultivating a successful company culture is about making employees feel accepted, valued, and respected for their contributions. Perry uses a combination of case studies, practical strategies, and personal experiences to make his point. With a focus on authenticity and accountability, Belonging at Work encourages leaders to join Perry’s #BelongingMovement and aims to positively impact workplace cultures around the globe.

“Equity in the workplace is rooted in the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement of an employee while simultaneously attempting to identify and eliminate structural barriers that have prevented the full participation of underrepresented groups.”

17. Come into My Office

Author(s): Mai Ton
Audience:
HR leaders and managers

Come into My Office eBook by Mai Ton - 9781637303047 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

Get an honest and inside look at Silicon Valley from Mai Ton, an HR veteran with a unique perspective, as a woman of color. You’ll learn about the perks, non-perks, and first-hand stories of an industry that, like many others, still has a ways to go in terms of diversity. It’s an easy-to-read book that will encourage everyone to understand why creating a more inclusive workplace isn’t just a job that falls on HR’s shoulders.

“My experiences have helped me see that lasting change can only be created when everyone does their part to shape their workplace to make it safe for everyone. Be an ally, be compassionate, and be kind to each other. The hours we spend together as working adults are the hours that we spend away from our family and friends, and I strove (and still strive) to make work worth the sacrifice.”

18. Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work

Author(s): Kathryn Jacob, Sue Unerman, and Mark Edwards
Audience:
HR leaders, managers, and executives
Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and  Equality at Work: Unerman, Sue, Jacob, Kathryn, Edwards, Mark:  9781472979612: Amazon.com: Books

Kathryn Jacob, Sue Unerman, and Mark Edwards reframe diversity at work into the concept of belonging — where everyone feels accepted and supported — and emphasizing that it is less of a box to check and more of an essential component of positive organizational culture and ultimately, business success. With a blend of stories, interviews, research, the authors help provide practical advice and a positive approach to creating an environment that goes beyond surface-level diversity.

“The job of building a culture of Belonging in the workplace is down to everyone, from top to bottom. The board must set the vision of inclusion, but it's up to everyone to make sure that it is lived every day. Just as old-fashioned traditional culture is kept alive by thousands of tiny acts of exclusion and alienation of those who are different from the supposed norm, a new positive culture of Belonging will be created from everyday actions of positive affirmations of inclusivity.”

19. Inclusion Revolution: The Essential Guide to Dismantling Racial Inequity in the Workplace

Author(s): Daisy Auger-Domínguez
Audience: HR leaders, managers, and executives

In the last few years, many companies have talked about the importance of diversity and inclusion, but not many have been able to successfully execute on that vision. This book provides a step-by-step guide by Daisy Auger-Domínguez, who has spent her career helping integrate DEI strategies into large organizations, on how to make a more inclusive workplace by asking some uncomfortable questions, addressing the root causes of racial inequity, and how to drive long-lasting change and engagement.


“The positive stats keep on coming: workplaces with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to innovate and weather market change, and workplace engagement (an additional indicator of beginning) is closely correlated with increased productivity, profit, and innovation, as well as decreased employee turnover.”

20. Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair

Author(s): Kim Scott and Trier Bryant
Audience:
Business and HR leaders

Author of the New York Times bestselling book Radical Candor, Kim Scott, partnered up with Trier Bryant to write this powerful guide on creating fair work environments. JUST WORK: Get Sh*t Done, Fast and Fair delves into the harmful effects that bias and discrimination can have on businesses, and argues that respectful cultures are actually beneficial for organizations. Scott and Bryant’s framework for eliminating workplace injustice is essential for any business leader looking to transform their company into a collaborative powerhouse.

“When we take proactive measures to create the kinds of working environments where we respect one another’s individuality and collaborate more effectively, we all enjoy our jobs and our colleagues more, make better decisions, and become more successful.”

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The HR space is constantly evolving with new ideas and expectations, and staying on top of all of them can be challenging –– especially during times of accelerated change. These books are a great place for any HR professional, manager, or business leader to start learning about what it takes to create a successful workplace.

If you want to learn more about investing in the full potential of your employees, grab your copy of People Strategy: How to Invest in People and Make Culture Your Competitive Advantage.