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6 HR Books You Should Be Reading

Whether you’re looking to make a move into HR, studying for an HR qualification or are a seasoned professional, reading is a great way to expand your knowledge, keep you up-to-date and get a fresh perspective. 

We know that your time is precious and at the end of a long day you don’t want to waste your time reading something that just isn’t worthwhile.

So, to help you out, we’ve scoured the HR bookshelves and can recommend that these 6 books will be worth the investment of your time.

#1 Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice by Michael Armstrong

Described as the ‘gold standard’ of HR books, this doorstop of a book consists of 80 chapters and covers pretty much everything you will encounter in your HR career.

Now in its 14th edition, it covers key areas such as employment law, learning and development and employee relations in detail with handy case studies to give you real-life examples.

It’s aligned with the CIPD professional map and standards and judging by reviews, it’s the ‘go to’ book for anyone studying for a CIPD Level 5 Diploma. You can also access extra online materials like flash cards and multiple-choice questions that will help you with your studies.

It really is a must read! Pick up a copy at Amazon

#2 Managing the Human Resource in the 21st Century by Zorlu Senyucel

A much slimmer option than Armstrong’s textbook, this guide still provides valuable insights into modern HR management. It covers a range of topics including organisational culture and challenges for Human Resource Management.

Senyucel frames the discussion around up-to-date trends and debates, ensuring that the more theoretical information still has relevance in the modern HR world.

Whether you’re still studying towards your HR qualification or are an established professional, it’s worth taking a look at this book to give your industry knowledge a refresh.

We haven’t even got to the best part yet, it’s completely free! Download a copy at Book Boon.

Woman Reading Next To A Window

#3 Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business Strategy by Perry Timms

It’s a sad fact, but the key role the HR department plays in an organisation’s performance can sometimes get overlooked. Timms’ book sets out to ensure that the role of HR is recognised and that HR professionals are experts in the many ways that they can add value to their organisation.

Timms is an advisor to the CIPD so you can be sure that he really does know what he’s talking about. He leaves you under no illusion about the difficulties you may face implementing transformational HR, but he does provide you with extensive real-life examples of what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

Along with these case studies, Timms provides models and advice that will help you put his ideas into practice. Reviews have praised the book for being very accessible and straightforward, so no matter what stage of your career you're in, you'll be able to use it to enhance your knowledge.

Pick up a copy from Kogan Page.

#4 HR Disrupted: It’s Time for Something Different by Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams is on a mission to modernise the HR industry and this book is all about encouraging HR professionals to transform their strategy and approach. She focuses on providing practical solutions for changing outdated HR practices.

There are no scarily complicated theories on offer here: everything Adams offers seems pretty simple and a bit obvious when you think about it, but the key takeaway is that too few companies are thinking about how their current policies impact their people.

This is a great read for anyone in need of some inspiration on how to shake up their department in an innovative yet practical way. Grab a copy at Amazon.

Man Reading

#5 Managing Difficult People in a Week: Teach Yourself by David Cotton

We’d love to live in a world where we got on with all our co-workers and we never had to navigate any disagreements at work. That would be lovely, don’t you think?

Realistically, though, that’s never going to happen, as each workplace is made up of different people with differing opinions, backgrounds and ideas.

Which is, of course, how it should be. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

That said, there are some people who can be a more difficult to deal with than others, and this book aims to help you learn how to manage them over the course of just one week.

The book is designed for you to read one chapter covering a different topic each day of the week. Cotton covers key areas that people often struggle with like managing conflict and preventing difficult behaviour.

We’re not totally sold that you’ll be an expert conflict manager after just a week of reading, but you will at the very least have a good understanding of the skills you need to develop.

Sound useful? Give it a try.


#6 Myths of Work: The Stereotypes & Assumptions Holding Your Organisation Back by Ian MacRae & Adrian Furnham

Like Lucy Adams, McRae and Furnham are keen to get rid of outdated workplace stereotypes and assumptions. They use up-to-date research to debunk 27 so called ‘myths of work’, covering a broad range of workplace issues such as working hours, retirement age and gender in the workplace.

The book’s format of one myth per chapter makes it easy to dip in and out of and allows you to easily find the issues that are most relevant to your own organisation.

Some chapters like ‘Listening to Music Whilst Working is Distracting’ might seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but will allow you to get a better understanding of how we work - and how it can evolve.

The idea is that having an awareness of these ‘myths’ and the knowledge of how to overcome them will enable you to become a better manager of people, it could perhaps even give you an edge in a highly competitive job market.

Snap up a copy from Kogan Page.


Reading widely is key to becoming a forward-thinking, insightful and respected HR practitioner.

You might not get the chance to read all of our suggestions right away (unless you happen to be this guy), but even adding one or two to your reading list will expand your understanding and help you stand out to colleagues, managers - and future employers.


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