9 Books Every HR Pro Should Read in 2020

Quarantine leaves us with a healthy chunk of time to reassess and spend time with the ones we love. But as quarantine goes on, the work must go on as well and for HR professionals, that means developing professionally as much as everyone else within the organization.

With all this time on your hands, a nice relaxing read is not only good for your development, but also your health. To help you develop a reading list that can fuel your own growth, we’ve provided a quarantine reading list of the best HR focused books to read in 2020.


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

A well-known thought leader in HR, Brown spends a great deal of time facilitating conversations about the possibilities in HR. In this book, he looks to challenge assumptions and preconceived notions about what HR should be and instead challenges the reader to think of the possibilities and tap into their passion for HR.

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

A cast of HR veterans has put together a handbook of competencies that sets the modern HR professional up for a more strategic role within the business. The put forward the argument 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.

  1. Generation Z: A Century in the Making by Corey Seemiller and Megan Grace

When Millennials (Gen Y) hit the workforce it created a shift in expectations of employers, workplace cultures and the way employers think about processes and employee relationships. Now, a new generation is entering the workforce and their lifestyles, expectations and world view are once again different.

To manage the Gen Z demographic effectively, HR leaders need to look at how the way this generation manages money, pursues education, values their relationships and what they want for their careers. This book explores these topics in a way that will help HR teams manage the generational diversity of their teams.

  1. Unleashing the Power of Diversity: How to Open Minds for Good by Bjørn Z. Ekelund

As cultures collide and the nature of work becomes more global, there are differences which could divide teams if we can’t develop a common language and a culture that highlights our common struggles. In this book, the author unveils a step-by-step program for communicating across cultural lines to develop a culture of trust that facilitates greater diversity within the organization and the construction of global teams.

  1. Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First by Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey

Talent planning is changing and requires a new way of doing things. This book uses examples from some of the world’s largest companies all the way down to Silicon Valley startups to show how HR can become the partner the business needs to acquire, develop and manage talent that can meet the technological and analytical demands of the modern workplace.

  1. Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It and How to Fix It by M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish

Good, honest feedback can be difficult to take, but as HR leaders, collecting feedback and being able to package it into constructive conversations that fuel employee growth is an art. In this book, the authors take a deeper look at where negative reactions to feedback come from and how to limit negative physical and emotional responses to it. It introduces the three F’s of feedback, (focused, fair and frequent) to help ease the tension that sometimes accompanies these discussions.

  1. Predictive HR Analytics: Mastering the HR Metric by Martin R. Edwards and Kirsten Edwards

Advanced HR metrics can be difficult, but are becoming a necessary part of the modern HR professionals work as employee engagement and experience take center stage. Being able to predict turnover, analyze and forecast diversity and fine tune employee interventions are all key skills discussed in this book. The authors focus on statistical techniques and predictive analytics models that can help improve the HR practitioner’s ability to do those things in an ethical manner.

  1. Talent Keepers: How Top Leaders Engage and Retain Their Best Performers by Christopher Mulligan and Craig Taylor

Through six case studies, the authors of this book reveal how organizations can develop and implement employee engagement plans that use tactics which have shown proven results. Starting from the time a new hire walks through the door to years into their development, this systemic approach will help HR leaders create a culture that retains and nurtures employees to grow within the organization.

  1. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

Culture is everything, but there are misconceptions and lies that pervade the workplace and cause dysfunction. That is the central tenet behind this book which seeks to identify those lies and highlight freethinking leaders are able to see through the fog to see the unique nature of their teams and reveal truths about the workplace or what the authors call the real world of work.

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