| 1 July, 2021 | 16 Min Read

Best HR books: 20+ essential reads recommended by HR pros

A Google search may never be good enough to give you the knowledge you're looking for. But books can. That's why we have gathered 20 of the best HR books recommended by the HR community to elevate and inspire you.

As an HR professional, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all the latest trends in Human Resources. With the various ways to educate themselves, reading a book is still a significant way to gain knowledge. So, we took it upon ourselves to gather 20 of the best human resources books from famous HR authors recommended by HR Pros. This list covers the best HR books for beginners and HR leaders. 

These books will assist you in getting valuable insights and in-depth information regarding several Human Resource management practices ranging from effective recruitment to building and maintaining inclusive company culture

In no particular order, the best 20 books recommended by HR Pros are:

1. Catch the new wave: Performance Enablement

Authors: Grove HR ft. Raymund Chua, Rachele Focardi, Syukri Azman, Vivek Iyyani, Adrian Tan, Ian Choo.Grove HR - HR booksHere comes the new wave of Employees Enablement in the labor market. Employees flinch in the sight of micromanagement and excessive control over their work processes. They desire development, the authority to decide the best possible ways to execute certain functions, access to technology and resources, and frequent feedback. Modern talents want to be 'enable' to excel at work, not 'managed'.

For employers to meet the demands of these highly-skilled workers, the need for a holistic Performance Enablement strategy is important.

Grove HR has developed the Performance Enablement Playbook in collaboration with some of the top leaders in the HR community and inter-generational professionals that’ll help leaders and managers rise to the occasion. In this playbook, you will find resourceful tips and best practices to retain high performers and maximize the potential of their workforce.

2. Work Rules!: Insights From Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead (2015)

Author: Laszlo Bock 

Grove HR - HR books - Work rules

This book is one of the best HR books available as it shows you how to balance your company's creativity and structure. Laszlo Buck, former VP of Peoples' Operation at Google, wrote in detail about the best HR practices at Google that you can implement at your company. 

The book places much emphasis on workplace culture, and it provides practicable examples of how Google has been able to select high performers and exceptional talents continually. 




Source: Amazon


3. HR From The Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources (2012)

Author(s): Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich

Grove HR - HR books - HR from the outside in



In HR From The Outside In, Dave Ulrich and his fellow authors listed the key competencies of a modern HR professional by outlining the importance of capacity building, technology proficiency, and the ability to innovate and integrate.




Source: Amazon

Best HR books: 20+ essential reads recommended by HR pros

4. The Essential HR Handbook (2008) 

Author(s): Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell 

Grove HR - HR books - The essential HR Handbook

This book covers a couple of trending topics in the present HR industry. The authors address HR operations from recruitment, training to create a diverse and inclusive company culture. The 10th edition was rated in best HR books 2020. 

The Essential Handbook is one of the best books for HR professionals. 




Source: Amazon

5. The HR Answer Book (2004)

Author(s): Shawn Smith and Rebecca Mazin

41SFfrLBL7L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The HR Answer Book is the go-to book for quick answers around HR issues. It provides solutions to over 200 questions every employer needs to deal with, from recruitment to onboarding/offboarding to benefits to training, e.t.c. It is one of the essential HR training books. 

It touches on the general HR issues and provides quality insight on employee relations and workplace management. 



Source: Amazon


The HR answer book is easy to read, and its answers range from the most simple to the most complex questions. Therefore, it is excellent quick reference material and easily one of the best books for HR professionals. 

"The HR Answer Book provides practical advice to executives and business owners for creating a positive work environment and managing the complex employee issues that routinely arise."

—Zachary T. Julius, Chief Executive Officer, Professional Disposables. International, Inc.

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 (2018)

Author: Erica Keswin

Grove HR - HR books - Bring your human to work

Source: Twitter


Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and business coach with 20+ years of experience in consulting and speaking within the HR industry, provides 10 surefire ways you can transform your workplace as an HR professional. 

It is one of the insightful books on HR practices that provides practicable guides on building meaningful relationships in the workplace; hence, it is recommended as one of the best books for HR leaders. 

7. Human Resource Management (2020)

Author: Gary Dessler

Grove HR - HR books - HRMArguably one of the top HR books to read and study, Human Resource Management by Gary Dessler is widely referred to as the HR Bible and rightly so. 

The book includes practical, step-by-step guidelines on the critical cornerstones of HR. It is divided into five parts; recruitment, placement & talent management, training & development, compensation, and employee relations.  


Source: Pearson


Human Resource Management by Gary Dessler is one of the most famous books on human resource management, and it's an insightful must-read for HR professionals. 

8. The HR Scorecard (2001)

Author(s): Brian Becker, Mark Huselid, Dave Ulrich

Grove HR - HR books - HR scorecardA timeless book. In The HR Scorecard, three experts in Human Resources introduce a measurement system that convincingly showcases how HR impacts business performance. It explains how people, strategies and performances can be linked and quantified. 

The book describes how to embed HR systems into a company's overall strategy in seven steps and measure its activities through KPIs and ROIs. 



Source: Amazon


The authors analyze how each element of the HR system can be constructed to strengthen a company's performance and maximize the overall quality of human capital. 

9. Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It (2017)

Author(s): Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich

Grove HR - HR books - Victory through organizationIn this exceptional book, Dave Ulrich and his co-authors take a closer look at the function of HR itself. The book is based on a competency study that involves over 30,000 HR Professionals, business leaders, and associates. 

Based on the research, Victory Through Organization provides you with everything you need to know how HR can contribute the most value to an organization. 



Source: Amazon


10. HR on Purpose (2017)

Author: Steve Browne 

Grove HR - HR books - HR on purpose


HR on Purpose offers a refreshing insight on HR through an engaging assortment of real-life examples, insights, and epiphanies and encourages practitioners to drop the preconceptions of what HR should be and instead look to what HR could be. 

It packs practical advice delivered in a fun way. It is a good HR book to read for HR professionals. 



Source: Amazon


11. Fire Well: How to fire staff so they thank you (2015)

Author: Sue Ingram

Grove HR - HR books - Fire wellThere'd be a time you'd be faced with the difficult situation where you'd have to let an employee go or break to them that their performance hasn't been good enough. With HR Expert, Sue Ingram's people management book you can unlock the secrets to effective people management. 

Discover how to: Handle important feedback conversations; Motivate individuals to change; Communicate key messages to your team; Work within UK employment law; Fire someone - and have them thank you for it!


Source: Amazon


12.7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (1989)

Author: Stephen Covey

Grove HR - HR books - 7 habits of highly effective people

Source: ICRRD


The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, which was named the Number 1 most influential business book of the twentieth century, is one of the best books for HR professionals. 

Best HR books: 20+ essential reads recommended by HR pros

13. Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups (2017)

Author: Daniel Coyle

Grove HR - HR books - Culture code

Source: Yourstory


An essential book that unlocks the secrets of highly successful groups and provides readers with a toolkit for building a cohesive, innovative culture, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code. 

14. Investing in people. Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives (2008)

Author(s): John W. Boudreau, Wayne F. Cascio, and Alexis A. Fink.

Grove HR - HR books - Investing in people

In this book, Cascio and Boudreau take a well-structured and data-driven approach to solve common problems in HR. The book explores strategic HR measurements, and though it is a bit technical, it is still understandable to the layman. 

For HR professionals tasked with taking on measurements or any other quantitative HR challenges, this book is a top HR book to read. 




Source: Amazon


15. The Talent Delusion (2017)

Author: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Grove HR - HR books - The talent delution

The Talent Delusion is an exciting book packed with several scientific facts on how to manage talents. The book covers what talent is (not everyone is talent), what talent isn't, how talent is measured, engaged, developed, and the dark, unpleasant side of talent.

The book provides valuable insights into differentiating talent from fodder and what the future holds for talent in the industry. 




Source: Amazon


16. HR Disrupted: It's Time for Something Different (2017)

Author: Lucy Adams

Grove HR - HR books - HR disrupted


This book describes what the future holds for HR, how to manage the changes and how to achieve success regardless. 

The book explores different methods to manage employees and customers alike in the new normal. 





Source: Amazon


17. Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011)

Author: Daniel Kahneman

Grove HR - HR books - Thinking, fast and slowBased on extensive research carried out by the author, the book provides a detailed explanation of modern psychology. It explains that there are two systems of thinking that always compete. The first system is the Fast, automatic thinking and the second system is the Slow, logical thinking. 

It is an HR-related book that shows you how knowing these systems can either fool you or be helpful to you.



Source: Amazon


18. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

Author: Dale Carnegie.



How To Win Friends and Influence People is an HR-related book and one of the most popular self-help books of all time. Ranking at number 19 on Time's Magazine list of the 100 most influential books, How To Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read for every HR professional. 





Source: Carousell


19. HR Rising!!: From Ownership to Leadership (2020)

Author: Steve Browne

Grove HR - HR books - HR rising

Source: Amazon

HR Rising is an inspiring book by Steve Browne that provides fresh insights on fostering collaboration, developing credibility, and building trust.

20. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity (2017)

Author: Kim Scott

Grove HR - HR books - Radical Candor

Source: Vox


As a manager or a "boss" in the HR department, finding a balance between being aggressive and showing empathy is very important. Radical Candor, one of the best HR management books, offers a guide on managing bosses and those who manage bosses. 

From her wealth of experience earning her stripes at Google and then becoming influential at Apple, the author, Kim Scott, shows managers how to be successful while still maintaining their humanity. The book also about finding excitement in their job and creating a working atmosphere where people love their jobs and colleagues. 

Grove HR - Best HR books: 20+ essential reads recommended by HR pros

21. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009)

Author: Simon Sinek

Grove HR - HR books - Start with why


The book was based on the exceptional TED talk Simon Sinek gave years ago, and its message is still as crucial as ever. 

Understanding your "Why" gives you the passion and drive to succeed in what you want to do.




Source: Amazon


Grove HR - Best HR books: 20+ essential reads recommended by HR pros

Read more from Simon Sinek - Transforming company culture: 5 advice from Simon Sinek.

Relax and read a book

It is important to take time off the hustle and bustle of constant work and observe what's happening around you. Self-help is a way to develop yourself, and gaining knowledge personally doesn't have to be stressful; neither should it be a tiresome chore. 

You can gain valuable HR knowledge by;

  • Reading HR books
  • Watching leadership movies
  • Listening to awesome HR podcasts
  • Watching YouTube videos about leadership, people management, and out-of-the-oven HR knowledge
  • Attending online HR webinars (you can rewatch our latest webinar here)
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  • Conduct 360-degree performance management easily.