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5 Brilliant HR Books Every Professional Should Read [2023 Update]

Discover the must-read books for HR professionals in 2023 with insightful titles recommended by industry experts.

Nick Schurk

by Nick Schurk - May 8th, 2023

Becoming an expert in Human Resources is no easy feat. It takes dedication, passion, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Yet, for the decision-makers in HR, time is simply a commodity too precious to waste. 

With all the responsibilities of managing remote teams, ensuring compliance, and taking care of employee well-being, who has the spare time to sift through endless content to improve their skills? 

We know you're busy, so we've gathered the top 5 must-reads recommended by HR professionals in the know. Whether you're new to HR or a seasoned veteran, you'll want to make time for these insightful and impactful books in 2023.

1. Diversity in the Workplace by Bärí A. Williams

Suggested by Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business at Technource

"Diversity and inclusion have become significant priorities in companies because an inclusive workplace provides financial and productivity benefits. Diversity in the Workplace is an excellent book about HR. It talks about creating more diverse and equitable organizations.

"Diverse teams create an environment that benefits the company and its benefits. You can read about eye-opening interviews to jump-start conversations about identity, privilege, and bias. The book gives you information about how employees feel in a diverse environment.

"The most insightful part of the book is that it includes 25 interviews from marginalized groups who share what life is like in the American workplace. The book splits these interviews into five groups: LGBTQ, Gender, Race, Ability, Culture, Age, and Religion."

2. The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change by Jeanie Daniel Duck

Suggested by Grace He, People and Culture Director at TeamBuilding

"My favorite book on HR is The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change, written by Jeanie Daniel Duck. This book uniquely explores the psychological forces impeding maximum effectiveness in organizational change. 

"It offers strategies to individuals and organizations undertaking a transformation and provides an uncommon perspective on the difficulties of changing an organization beyond traditional methodologies like communication, expectation-setting, and goal-planning. 

"By looking at the projections of employees' lingering fears, latent resistance, contrary beliefs, and unresolved conflicts, this book is a valuable addition to any HR professional's library."

3. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Suggested by Manuel Schlothauer, Founder at

"As a therapist, coach, and HR Leader who understands the importance of building healthy workplace relationships, my go-to book is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

"It provides practical guidance on communicating effectively, resolving conflicts, and building positive relationships in the workplace. The book emphasizes empathy, understanding, and compassion in communication, encouraging HR professionals and managers to listen actively and show respect for different perspectives. 

"Using nonviolent communication techniques can make difficult conversations productive and respectful, particularly around sensitive topics like performance issues and interpersonal relationships. The book also offers guidance on creating a positive workplace culture that supports collaboration and success. 

"Nonviolent Communication is an essential read for building healthy workplace relationships and creating an environment where everyone can thrive and know, feel, and trust that they belong."

4. Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace by Gustavo Razzetti 

Suggested by Dragos Badea, CEO at Yarooms

"In Remote Not Distant, Gustavo Razetti posits that remote and hybrid are here to stay, something we're still trying to wrap our heads around as a culture, and it provides a roadmap for companies looking to succeed in this brave new world. 

"We are keeping teams connected to improve collaboration, building psychological safety despite remote environments, and building culture outside of in-office work—all incredibly useful and well-written information."

5. The HR Value Proposition by David Ulrich

Sanya Nagpal, Head of Human Resources at Leena AI

"My favorite book about HR is The HR Value Proposition by David Ulrich. This book is an essential guide for HR professionals who want to lead their organizations toward a better future. 

"It is a practical and insightful read that applies to HR professionals in any function, industry, or organization size. The author provides a step-by-step approach to assess and address organizational concerns and strategic thought processes to enhance HR's value proposition and improve results. 

"This book is a valuable resource that has helped me to better understand my role as an HR professional. It has enabled me to impact my organization positively and build a strong foundation. The book has also helped me to develop a growing culture and build strong teams. 

"Overall, The HR Value Proposition is a must-read for HR professionals motivated to deepen their organization's natural strength and leverage their value."

Top 5 Suggestions from 2022

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (2002)

Suggested by Jenny Voigt, Sr. Human Resources Generalist at Amplify Credit Union

"I've always been a fan of two books – The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. They play hand in hand since both focus on trust and how that drives business. That single component – trust – is the lynchpin to success. When you trust your team members, they will go the extra mile. They are happier because they don't feel micromanaged. Your confidence in them multiplies their desire to inspire that confidence through their actions.

"By the same token, if your team members trust you, they know you will follow through on your commitments. And that breeds loyalty. Sometimes managing people can seem like an unsolvable puzzle, but these two books help crack that code."

Bring Your Human To Work by Erica Keswin (2018)

Suggested by Agnieszka Goulin, Head of People at Spacelift

"Bring Your Human To Work by Erica Keswin is a breath of fresh air in the HR literature. It explores how companies can put human connection at the center of their business and outlines the financial and social benefits of encouraging better communication and deeper relationships between coworkers.

"Two things contribute to this recommendation:

  1. It's a well-researched and practical book written in an accessible and comprehensive style. It offers strategies for humanizing technology, hiring the right people, designing an intelligent office layout, etc.

  2. It outlines the importance of people and their well-being. Nowadays, more companies use different practices to ensure an inclusive and meaningful workplace that nurtures innovation. And Bring Your Human To Work is a must-read for those who want to keep up with the times.

"There are classics of HR everyone should be familiar with, some more than others. Still, reading this back in 2019, I found it to be insightful and modern, and most importantly, it set off my journey into a more contemporary way of thinking in my career."

Victory Through Organization by Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank & Mike Ulrich (2017)

Suggested by Katy Smith, HR manager at Airgram

"The subtitle to this book says almost everything. Unsurprisingly, I went for a book subtitled 'Why the war for talent is hurting your company,' but the takeaways I came out with were astounding.

"HR managers in relatively small businesses tend to have challenges with small talent pools. I read this book when we were going through the ravages of the great resignation as a business. I wanted to find employees during the labor crunch, and the book gave me the greatest ideas for going about it. The book shows the value of employee experience and people-centered HR practices and highlights that businesses should package their HR practices to attract more talent."

Good to Great by Jim Collins (2001)

Suggested by Max Hauer, founder, and CEO of Goflow

"Jim Collins explains how some companies defy the norms and perform exceptionally well and why some companies do not sustain success, highlighting strategies for how mediocre or bad companies achieve success and greatness.

"Collins and his team identified various reasons and parameters that enabled some companies to scale up the ladder and become good to great while others either stayed good or perished over time. The findings of the Good to Great study emphasize different styles of leadership, the culture of discipline, the role of technology in defining the paradigms of business, and more.

"This book is a must-read for HR professionals to understand the ingrained structure of organizations and what drives people to succeed."

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