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Home / Blog / 40 Best HR Books: For Beginners and HR Professionals (Q1 2024)

40 Best HR Books: For Beginners and HR Professionals (Q1 2024)

A list of the best HR books for beginners and experts in PeopleOps we recommend checking out

J.R. Johnivan
Business and HR Tech Journalist
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It can be tough keeping up with the evolution of human resources— a constant flux of HR trends, strategies, and standards. Luckily, plenty of experts in the field of HR and PeopleOps have shared their wisdom in written form for your benefit. The best HR books can help you optimize outdated processes and create new policies for the modern workforce, but, with so many options available, it’s difficult to find the right resources.

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of HR or an established professional, you can use our list of human resources books to get facts and strategies that will help advance your career to the next level.

In This Article


A young HR professional reading an online copy of an HR book.

16 Best HR Books for Beginners

1. The Essential HR Handbook

Author: Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell

Rating: 3.59 / 5

Targeting HR professionals on every level, The Essential HR Handbook serves as a quick reference regarding the fundamentals of HR and workforce management, performance management, team leadership, coaching, and more. It’s one of the most comprehensive books on human resources available today.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

Guides for HR and people analytics professionals.

2. The 9 Faces of HR: A Disrupter’s Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change

Author: Kris Dunn

Rating: 4.19 / 5

Written by an HR blogger for one of the most popular HR websites of all time, The 9 Faces of HR classifies every HR professional into one of nine different faces. From there, the book outlines the typical career path, behavioral tendencies, and market demand for each one of the different faces. Not only can it help you clarify your exact role in your company, but it can also help you plan out your future road to success.

Available Formats: Hardcover / Paperback

3. People Analytics for Dummies

Author: Mike West

Rating: 4.32 / 5

If you’re looking for an “HR for Dummies book”, look no further than People Analytics for Dummies by Mike West. While it does offer a general approach to HR, it goes in-depth with topics like how to execute people analytics, how to utilize qualitative data to your benefit, how to collect relevant data, and how to find an approach to people management that meets your specific needs.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

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

Author: Bjorn Z. Ekelund

Rating: 3 / 5

Meant to provide an introduction to diversity in the workplace, this book introduces a brand new program – known as the Diversity Icebreaker – that is used to connect with staff members of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The program itself has seen success throughout 70 different countries and with more than 250,000 participants to date, so it already has a reputation as a highly useful and informative book.

Available Formats: Hardcover / Paperback / eBook

Recommended books for beginners in HR and workplace diversity (DEI).

5. Rituals for Work: 50 Ways to Create Engagement, Shared Purpose, and a Culture that Can Adapt to Change

Author: Kursat Ozenc and Margaret Hagan

Rating: 3.79 / 5

Rituals are a great way to create bonds, motivate staff, and transform organizational culture. By drawing on examples from their past experiences, the authors of this book provide 50 different rituals that are easily applied to the workforce. Case studies backup these suggestions with hard facts and pertinent data, so you can fully digest and understand each strategy.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

6. The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals

Author: Shawn Smith and JD and Rebecca Mazin

Rating: 3.84 / 5

A handy go-to guide that is suitable for any HR expert’s desk or bookshelf, The HR Answer Book provides insightful answers to 200 of the most common questions encountered in the HR department. While it does focus on very specific issues and questions, the guidance offered in the book can be extended to help you solve other, more complex issues in the workplace.

Available Formats: Paperback / Hardcover / eBook

7. HR Analytics: Understanding Theories and Applications

Author: Dipak Kumar Bhattacharyya

Rating: 3.43 / 5

If you’re struggling to understand HR analytics, this is the book for you. The author begins with a rudimentary introduction to HR analytics before taking a deep dive into advanced HR metrics and scoring, data collection and visualization, and more. It also features teaching materials and various exercises for current students of college-level HR analytics courses.

Available Formats: Paperback

8. Running Remote: Master the Lessons from the World’s Most Successful Remote-Work Pioneers

Author: Liam Martin and Rob Rawson

Rating: 3.51 / 5

Does your organization maintain a large number of remote workers? Or maybe you’re a remote worker yourself? If so, Running Remote is one of the best human resource books for your money. Not only does it cover the fundamental differences of remote work, but it provides useful tips from experienced remote workers on how to succeed in these roles.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

Recommended Reading:

If you’re still trying to determine if the HR industry is right for you, take a look at our handy guide of HR salaries. We compare HR salaries across several different positions and cities, so you’ll be able to make the most of your time in the HR industry.

Book recommendations for HR professionals.

9. Bring Your Human to Work

Author: Erica Keswin

Rating: 3.72 / 5

With so many books providing in-depth how-to guides and specific instructions regarding HR, Erica Keswin’s Bring Your Human to Work dares to go outside of the lines with a unique perspective on human resources, people management, and professional development. The book offers various leadership lessons that are meant to help bring employees together and foster a team-oriented workplace.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

10. Do More Great Work: Stop the Busywork. Start the Work That Matters

Author: Michael Bungay Stanier, Seth Godin, Michael Port, Dave Ulrich, Chris Guillebeau, and Leo Baubanta

Rating: 3.85 / 5

Given the competitiveness of the modern workforce, those who are satisfied with doing a good job often get left behind. Instead, you need to focus on doing a great job whenever you have the chance. This book expands on the value of doing meaningful work that matters.

Available Formats: eBook / Audiobook

11. Belonging at Work: Cultivate an Inclusive Organization

Author: Rhodes Perry

Rating: 3.88 / 5

Are you struggling to fit in with your workplace culture? Do employees regularly ask you for advice on assimilating into your workplace culture? If so, Belonging at Work is the book for you. It covers the basics, such as why it’s important to get along and fit in with your teammates in the first place, but it also covers more advanced strategies like affecting positive change in the workplace, holding yourself accountable, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

HR book recommendations for beginners in the field of HR.

12. HR Disrupted: It’s Time for Something Different

Author: Lucy Adams

Rating: 4.17 / 5

According to the author, Lucy Adams, traditional HR has lost its way. With that in mind, this book attempts to shed some light on new HR trends, practices, and strategies that can help drive true organizational change. Her plan revolves around three primary pillars – treating employees as adults, treating employees as consumers, and treating employees as human beings – that will help you change the way you look at the modern workforce.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

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

Author: M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish

Rating: 3.83 / 5

Feedback is a double-edged sword. On one hand, constructive criticism gives you the opportunity to make changes and improve. However, feedback often comes as a result of some negative action or behavior. In this book, the authors stress the importance of providing focused, fair, and frequent feedback – also known as the three Fs.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

14. Winning on HR Analytics: Leveraging Data for Competitive Advantage

Author: Ramesh Soundararajan and Kuldeep Singh

Rating: 4.00 / 5

The world of HR analytics is very insightful – as long as you know how to interpret the data. This guide teaches you how to identify, collect, measure, and articulate complex HR analytics in order to predict employee performance, forecast future workforce needs, and process incoming resumes with more efficiency than ever before.

Available Formats: Paperback

Books about HCM and performance management for HR professionals.

15. Digital HR: A Guide to Technology-Enabled Human Resources

Author: Deborah DeWolfe

Rating: 3.43 / 5

Modern technology is transforming every aspect of business – including HR. Digital HR provides an in-depth look at some of the current innovations that are shaping the world of HR, including tips, recommendations, and case studies, that showcase exactly how these technologies are being used today.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

16. The ROI of Human Capital: Measuring the Economic Value of Employee Performance

Author: Jac Fitz-Enz

Rating: 3.65 / 5

As a beginner in the field of HR, it can be difficult to understand the value that individuals bring to their organizations. Thankfully, The ROI of Human Capital, one of the best books on human capital available today, provides a detailed explanation that revolves around three critical points: organizational contributions, functionality impacts, and the value added by basic HR department activities.

Available Formats: Hardcover / Paperback

16 Best Books for HR Professionals

HR books for experienced professionals in HR and PeopleOps.

1. People Processes: How Your People Can Be Your Organization’s Competitive Advantage

Author: Rhamy Alejeal

Rating: 4.50 / 5

Human resources is all about managing people, so it makes sense that this HR book is focused solely on people management. It teaches you how to deal with unmotivated employees, how to address struggling performance, how to counteract a high employee turnover rate, and how to use modern technology to strengthen and streamline your entire HR department.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

2. HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion

Author: Steve Browne

Rating: 4.18 / 5

Published in 2018 and written by a prominent HR blogger, HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion shows you how to take a people-oriented approach to human resources. Drawing on real world examples from the author’s prior career, the book provides unique insights and information without getting bogged down by preconceptions of what HR should look like.

Available Formats: eBook

3. The SHRM Essential Guide to Employment Law

Author: Charles Fleischer

Rating: 4.17 / 5

Unlike many other HR books, The SHRM Essential Guide to Employment Law dives right into one of the most complicated areas of HR. One of the most comprehensive guides available on the subject, this book covers 200+ different topics related to HR and legal compliance. It’s a must-read for any established professional who wants to stay on top of all the laws, standards, and regulations of human resources.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

4. Beyond HR: The New Science of Human Capital

Author: John W. Boudreau and Peter M. Ramstad

Rating: 3.70 / 5

Pioneering a new form of science known as “Talentship,” this book demonstrates how companies can go beyond the typical HR strategies and processes to develop talent that creates tangible value for your organization. It uses real world examples from companies such as Boeing and Disney to highlight unique opportunities in talent acquisition, retention, and development.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

5. HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the Outside In

Author: Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, Mark Nyman, and Justin Allen

Rating: 3.97 / 5

Written by a team of experienced authors and HR experts, HR Transformation presents a step-by-step guide and a comprehensive transformational program that comprises four distinct phases. Originally published in 2009, the book has 30+ endorsements from all around the HR industry.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

Book recommendations for HR professionals.

6. The Practical Guide to HR Analytics: Using Data to Inform, Transform, and Empower HR Decisions

Author: Shonna D. Waters, Valerie N. Streets, Lindsay McFarlane, and Rachael Johnson-Murray

Rating: 3.96 / 5

Leveraging the experience of several HR experts, The Practical Guide to HR Analytics guides you through the common challenges faced by organizations when implementing HR analytics. The book guides you through common HR analytics functionality, including the common pitfalls and roadblocks that you’ll encounter on your way.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

Recommended Reading:

Are you an HR team-of-one looking to improve your HR Tech stack? If this is the case, or you are generally interested in learning more about HR software for a small business, check out our handy buyer guide for an in-depth review of the most popular options.

7. Agile Workforce Planning: How to Align People with Organizational Strategy for Improved Performance

Author: Adam Gibson

Rating: 3.75 / 5

Often used in project management and software development, the agile methodology has viable uses elsewhere, too – including workforce planning and workforce management. Agile Workforce Planning shows how to predict future requirements, forecast workforce demand, and fill the gap between your levels of supply and demand.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

8. The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance

Author: Dave Ulrich, Mark A. Huselid, and Brian E. Becker

Rating: 3.80 / 5

Based on an ongoing study of 3,000+ organizations, The HR Scorecard demonstrates exactly how human resources affects long-term productivity and overall business performance. The book introduces a seven-step system – the HR scorecard – that provides a benchmark for organizational success.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

Advanced HR book recommendations.

9. Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives

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

Rating: 3.82 / 5

Drawing inspiration from disciplines such as psychology, finance, accounting, and economics, Investing in People is a data-driven guide on the effects of established HR initiatives on the workforce in general. It also covers topics like talent acquisition, employee engagement, customer support, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / Hardcover / eBook

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

Author: Lars Schmidt

Rating: 4.26 / 5

Much of your success in HR hinges on your ability to adapt to change. Schmidt’s book, Redefining HR, serves as a comprehensive guide to workforce disruption and change. It utilizes real world examples from the likes of Mastercard, Asana, Siemens, Hubspot, and more, to highlight common HR practices and people management techniques.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

11. The Big Book of HR

Author: Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem

Rating: 3.98 / 5

Written by two experienced and reputable HR experts, The Big Book of HR, now available in its 10th anniversary edition, covers the fundamentals of HR leadership as well as some of the newest HR trends, strategies, and changes seen in the HR world as a whole. It includes topics like diversity, inclusion, compensation, employee development, legal compliance, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / Hardcover / eBook

Books about HR and creating an inclusive workplace culture.

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

Author: Daisy Auger-Dominguez

Rating: 4.17 / 5

Written by an expert in workplace diversity, Inclusion Revolution tackles one of the biggest problems facing the modern workforce today – racial inequality. The book offers a step-by-step process to driving inclusion while empowering HR professionals with the tools needed to address sensitive issues in the workplace.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook / Audiobook

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

Author: Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank, and Mike Ulrich

Rating: 3.84 / 5

Calling on the continuous research of HR expert, Dave Ulrich’s, Victory Through Organization delivers valuable insight on such topics as gauging the value of your talent, how to build integrated solutions that appease multiple stakeholders, and exactly how HR departments can use information to their advantage.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

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

Author: Amy C. Edmondson

Rating: 4.02 / 5

First published in 2018, The Fearless Organization is an up-to-date guide that centers on talent acquisition, employee engagement, and inclusion. It takes a look at the link between safety in the workplace and employee performance, while also providing the framework for you to bolster safety in your own organization.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

Recommended reading for HR professionals.

15. Predictive HR Analytics: Mastering the HR Metric

Author: Martin R. Edwards and Kirsten Edwards

Rating: 4.11 / 5

An in-depth and practical guide to HR analytics, this book is meant for HR novices, established HR leaders, and everyone in between. Topics include employee engagement, team motivation, turnover, performance management, diversity analysis, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / Hardcover / eBook

16. The Drama-Free Workplace: How You Can Prevent Unconscious Bias, Sexual Harassment, Ethics Lapses, and Inspire a Healthy Culture

Author: Patti Perez

Rating: 3.73 / 5

Written by an HR expert, attorney, trainer, and former state regulator with more than 1,200 workplace investigations under her belt, The Drama-Free Workplace is an up-to-date guide that touches on some of the most sensitive HR subjects – including sexual harassment, hiring bias, low morale, legal compliance, and more. First published in 2019, it’s a comprehensive HR guide that was written with the modern workforce in mind.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

8 Best HR Leadership and Talent Management Books

Book recommendations for improving leadership skills.

1. Strategic Human Resource Management: An HR Professional’s Toolkit

Author:  Karen Beaven

Rating: 3.75 / 5

While sophisticated tools like HRMS software can help streamline your job as an HR manager, very few resources actually help you use the insight gained to cultivate advanced skills in HR leadership. That’s exactly where Strategic Human Resources Management comes into play. This book gives you all of the tools needed to manage people while providing useful advice for managing and maintaining your own mental well-being.

Available Formats: Paperback / Hardcover / eBook

2. Talent Keepers: How Top Leaders Engage and Retain Their Best Performers

Author: Christopher Mulligan

Rating: 3.25 / 5

Even the best and most successful HR leaders have to deal with turnover to some extent. Not only does Christopher Mulligan’s book teach you some of the best methods and strategies for employee engagement and retention, but it tells you how to create and establish an engagement plan for the very first time. It also gives you insight into actionable strategies that can help keep employee turnover at a minimum.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

3. Human Resource Management

Author: Gary Dessler

Rating: 3.95 / 5

One of the classic human resource management textbooks available, Human Resource Management covers everything from essential HR concepts and methodologies to advanced techniques and strategies. The #1 human resource management book on the market today, this guide is broken down into five distinct parts that make it easy to read, understand, and follow.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

HR books about leadership.

4. Performance Management for Dummies

Author: Herman Aguinis

Rating: 3.60 / 5

Another great entry in the HR for Dummies series, Performance Management for Dummies provides a step-by-step guide to combining performance management with organizational goals, priorities, and objectives. It shows you how to create benchmarks for measuring staff performance, how to identify areas of improvement, how to track progress over the course of time, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

5. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Author: Simon Sinek

Rating: 4.10 / 5

Serving as the inspiration for one of the most popular TED Talks yet, Simon Sinek’s HRM book answers some of the most difficult questions facing the modern workforce. If you’ve ever wondered why some organizations are more innovative than their competitors or why some people have more influence than others, this book is a great place to start.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

6. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Author: Laszlo Bock

Rating: 4.13 / 5

Written by the former Head of People Operations with Google, Work Rules! combines years of hands-on experience with various studies and research on behavioral economics and human psychology to help you connect with employees and gain a better understanding of the modern workforce as a whole. It was originally published in 2015.

Available Formats: Hardcover / Paperback / eBook

Recommended book about leadership and HR.

7. The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential

Author: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Rating: 3.93 / 5

Do you find it difficult to retain employees? Maybe you’re having trouble finding good employees to begin with? In either case, The Talent Delusion can help you locate and retain top talent in your industry. This useful guide takes a data-driven approach to topics like employee acquisition, selection, engagement, management, and more.

Available Formats: Paperback / eBook

8. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

Author:  Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

Rating: 4.13 / 5

Let’s face it – there is a lot of misinformation out there about work. This guide gets to the bottom of some of the most common bits of misinformation around – whether they’re half-truths, incorrect assumptions, or downright lies.

Available Formats: Hardcover / eBook

Finding the Best HR Books for You

The myriad of human resources books on the market today cater to HR professionals on all levels. Whether you’re an experienced HR leader, an HR employee looking to move with the times, or a college student exploring human resource course certifications, these HR books will empower you to make the right decisions for your career.

J.R. Johnivan
Business and HR Tech Journalist
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Combining a lifelong love of technology and the written word, J.R. is constantly balancing traditional arts with next-gen breakthroughs and advancements. With 30-plus years of experience working with computers and IT of all kinds, including over a decade of reviewing HR software, he caters to audiences all around the globe from his quaint home in West Michigan.

Featured in: project-management.com

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