Best HR Books For Beginners

As an HR professional, you may face a variety of situations that require attention. You need to find solutions for situations, yet before that, you need to understand and evaluate situations. Read this article to find HR books that will help you get better understanding and practical ideas to find solutions.

Why do HR professionals need to stay updated?

As an HR professional, you act as a connecting medium between the management and the employees. Even though you learn human resource management in college, you need practical ideas for handling diverse situations. Moreover, if conditions change, you need to adapt to the changing times. For this, you may need to enhance your understanding of human resource management.

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HR Books on human resource management are extremely valuable to people who are in the HR profession. These books keep you updated in a constantly shifting setting and provide new insights.

Topics you may want to be constantly updated on …

  • Company culture
  • Leadership 
  • Data handling
  • Technological advancements
  • Millennial employees
  • New methods of retaining employees
  • Improving employee experience
  • Understanding resource costs
  • Helping employees find purpose
  • Upskilling employees

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Updating skills is especially beneficial in an environment that is volatile. Having a few HR books handy at your office can assist you to get a deeper understanding and finding new ways to engage with employees while they are on the job. If you are curious as to which HR Books you and your team ought to be reading this year?

I have compiled a list of 5 HR Books for your convenience.

Best HR Books To Read

1. Performance Conversations

  • Author – Christopher D. Lee
  • Publisher – Society for Human Resource Management
  • Year of Publication – 2020
  • Pages – 226
  • Genre – Human Resourse Management, Analysis and Strategy
  • Reader Audience – Human Resourse Professionals, Management and Leadership
  • Stars – 4.5 out of 5

What I liked about this book is it tells you how to use questions to build employee productivity. Questions have so much power, it makes the other person think. Asking strategic open-ended questions can make employees reflect and this can be used as a tool to build confidence and find a shared purpose.

Thoughtful and positive questions that are not interrogative will elicit deep conversations that will give insights. Rather than once a year appraisals, employee conversation that make them feel safe and cared for, will be great for getting a feedback and problem-solving. 

Millennials are impatient and in a hurry to get results. They are ambitious and find ways to get ahead in their goals. So, this kind of coaching/mentoring by management will help in many ways. 7 fabulous questions are suggested by the author in this book. These and other ideas in the book are usable and practical. 

2. The Next Rules of Work

  • Author – Gary A. Bolles
  • Publisher – Kogan Page
  • Year of Publication – 2021
  • Pages – 279
  • Genre – Business strategy and management, Human resource management
  • Reader Audience – Business leaders, HR professionals
  • Stars – 4.5 out of 5

In the changing world, college education is valid only for a few years after college. Technological advancements, political, global issues and socio-economic changes mean the old normal is no longer constant.

Therefore, life long learning becomes essential. This means the rules of work step up to the next level. Cubicles are no longer effective. A flexible mindset is something all workplaces have felt the need for it. 

Resistance to change will not take the company on the path to success. Major disruptions can make change indispensable. Even managers can resist change. Accept strategy, choose one or more groups to role model adaptation to change. The CEO has to model growth mindset. 

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 Workplace skills must be updated with constant learning and updation. Obsolete skills means an obsolete culture and under-productivity. Creativity and innovation needs intrinsic motivation. Next rules require the right mindset. The author talks about four types of mindset.

Physical, mental, financial health all go together for increasing productivity. Problem solving is one of the most important skill along with empathy, adaptability and agility. These and many other ideas are available to readers in this book. 

3. Scaling Up Compensation

  • Author – Verne Harnish and Sebastian Ross
  • Publisher – Forbesbooks
  • Year of Publication – 2021
  • Pages – 114
  • Genre – Human Resourse Management
  • Reader Audience – HR professionals, Management team
  • Stars – 4.5 out of 5

What I liked about this book is that it gives practical ideas about optimizing company culture. The culture and values of your company, as well as your overall business strategy, are directly influenced by money that you give your employees. Don’t make it complicated. 

Gamify incentives by including non-monetary prizes such as entertainment, food, travel, and other experiences. This will help to increase the emotional impact and create memories of the award. 

Most businesses spend a lot of money on salaries, bonuses, and other forms of payment. Employees may not work harder because of their salary in the long run. People’s actions and behaviours are influenced by the incentives that are provided to them.

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Define your culture to bring your compensation plan and processes to match with your company’s mission and principles.There is no correlation between higher compensation and increased levels of productivity. Create the environment necessary for high performance.

It’s possible that pay could reduce motivation, although it does not always do so. Instead of paying for the number of years someone has worked for you, pay for their talents and qualities.

Yet, external motivation can backfire. You need their talents and qualities now and in the future so try to boost their intrinsic motivation rather than external motivation. These and a lot more awaits you in this book.

4. The Revelation Conversation

  • Author – Steve Curtin
  • Publisher – Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • Year of Publication – 2022
  • Pages – 176 
  • Genre – Human resource management, Business management
  • Reader Audience – HR professionals, Business leaders
  • Stars – 5 out of 5

Why I selected this book is because the author talks about increasing employee engagement by connecting them to their purpose. I think finding your purpose in your work is the ultimate pathway to intrinsic motivation. 

If employee’s purpose and the companies purpose align for the big picture, this would make it a sustainable proposition for building company culture. Self discovery is a result of being on the path of clarifying purpose and meaning.On the other hand, boredom and disengagement can lead to frustration in employees. 

Employee engagement can decline. This affects the organizations, it has an impact on rate of absenteeism and attrition. When the employees find meaning in their work, they find a higher purpose.

A reflection of work knowledge and skills is on the productivity in the company. Study the motivation of employees, their actions and behaviour to create loyalty in employees.

“Revelation conversation” is informal open ended dialogue to examine connections, to let their purpose drive their work and skills. These are some of the ideas to motivate desirable behaviours in employees, given in this book. 

5. The Cactus and Snowflake at Work

  • Author – Devora Zack
  • Publisher – Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • Year of Publication – 2021
  • Pages – 192
  • Genre – Communication and social skills, Workplace psychology, Human resourse management
  • Reader Audience – HR managers, Counsellors, Leadership
  • Stars – 5 out of 5

Why I liked this book is because it’s a common experience in a workplace that some people are rather practical and some are emotional. Though there cannot be sterotypes in a workplace because its the employee engagement and productivity that matters rather than gender.

Why cactus and snowflake? This means that the author puts people into categories based on their personalities, their behaviour and decision making. You must know, in which category you fall in. In the cactus category or the snowflake category? 

The cactus category people are extroverted. They are more rational and logical in their thinking. On the other hand, snowflake people are slightly introverted and have deep feelings. 

The author says everyone falls somewhere is the spectrum between Cactus and Snowflake. This makes a difference in the way a person communicates and behaves. It reflects in whether you make decisions based on reason or feelings.  Do you have kindness, compassion, reason, analytical mind, speak the facts or think creatively. 

All of these are capabilities based on cactus or snowflake personalities. How does this reflect in the workplace? Cactus and snowflakes perceive situations differently. This impacts the interactions and trigger responses. 

3 More HR books you must explore

High Impact Tools for Teams (4.5 stars out of 5)

The Empathetic Workplace (4.5 stars out of 5)

Work Better Together (4 stars out of 5)


After reading this article, you will find some great HR books for human resource professionals, business leaders, management team members and working professionals. 

Keeping up with new changes within the company and conditions in general, can require brainstorming ideas. HR professional, managers, or business leaders who want to start learning about what it takes to establish successful work pratices, should start with these books. They are terrific books to begin with.

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