Human Resources

6 Essential HR Books You Need to Read in 2019



Whatever stage you’re at in your HR career, reading relevant texts will expand your knowledge, keep you up-to-date and give you a fresh perspective.

At the end of a long day you don’t want to waste your time on something that’s not worth your while, so we thought we’d help you whittle down your choices a bit.

We’ve searched the HR and L&D bookshelves and are totally confident that there will be at least one book on this list that suits your needs.


#1 Introduction to Human Resource Management by Charles Leatherbarrow & Janet Fletcher

If you’re brand new to the world of HR, then this is the perfect introductory textbook. It’s mapped to the CIPD Level 3 Certificate in HR Practice and makes the perfect study companion for anyone studying this beginner’s course.

The recently updated 4th edition now includes sections on modern workplace issues such as zero-hours contracts, the gig economy, social media and the apprenticeship levy so you’ll be prepared for any challenge your first HR role brings.

It’s also filled with up-to-date case studies to balance out the theory and comes with access to loads of additional online resources such as multiple-choice quizzes and lecture slides to help you with your studies.



#2 HR on Purpose: Delivering Deliberate People Passion by Steve Browne

HR blogger Steve Browne’s book is a refreshing change from many HR texts as it steers clear of complex theories and advice in favour of honest and insightful storytelling.

The pages are peppered with anecdotes from Browne’s own personal and professional experiences which are engaging, funny and will make you reflect on your own practices.

Browne shows a passion for people that’s infectious and will make you evaluate all the things that HR could achieve by putting people at the forefront of its agenda. 

Pick up a copy at Amazon.




#3 Build it: The Rebel Playbook for World Class Employee Engagement by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey

Employee engagement is something of a hot topic at the movement not just in the HR community, but in the business world in general.

It’s become more widely acknowledged recently that employees perform better when they’re engaged and invested in their work, but Elliott and Corey argue that many organisations are still failing to treat their staff well. They advocate following a group of companies including Brewdog, Virgin and LinkedIn who have ‘rebelled’ against traditional HR practices and achieved outstanding results.

The Rebel Playbook is easy to grasp as it’s relatively free of jargon and provides clear, well thought out solutions to many HR problems. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to overhaul their company culture.

Get your copy at WHSmith.   



#4 The New HR Leader's First 100 Days by Alan Collins

This book is well worth a read if you’re about to take on a leadership role or have your eye on one for the future. In his long running HR career, Collins has headed up HR teams in huge organisations like Quaker Oats and PepsiCo, so you can trust that he’s speaking from a wealth of experience.

Collins provides you with a ‘roadmap’ to follow during your initial period in your senior role that will guide you to taking charge and confidently making decisions. In a leadership role you’ll be expected to take responsibility from day one and look after your own personal development so having a plan to follow is a sensible move.

Collins sets out 15 ‘rules’ to follow that are easy to understand and very practical so you can dive straight in and start working on your own ‘onboarding’ plan which will help you capitalise on your first few months in your new role.

Sound useful? Give it a try.




#5 Human Resources: The Inconsiderate Truth by Stephen Michael Campbell

We’d be willing to bet that you’ve felt unappreciated at some point in your HR career. Sadly, much of what falls under HR’s purview could be described as thankless tasks.

If you find yourself ever frustrated by the lack of understanding and appreciation from other departments then Human Resources: The inconsiderate Truth is the book for you. It provides a humorous look at the issues that HR professionals face in their roles.

Campbell shares some of his own real-life experiences from his 20-year career through case studies from the fictional company, Enditall Medical Supplies Inc which will either make you laugh out loud or weep in sympathy depending on your own particular experience. In short, it’s a light-hearted glance into the essential but not so glamorous work of the HR professional.

Snap up a copy at Amazon.



#6 Workplace Learning: How to Build a Culture of Continuous Employee Development by Nigel Paine

This is a valuable read for not only L&D professionals but anyone who is looking to improve their organisation’s learning culture.  

Paine argues that to survive in today’s environment organisation’s must create a workforce that is agile, adaptable and willing to learn new skills. The way to make this happen? Create a culture in which learning is continuous and available to all. He’s extremely passionate and persuasive in his argument, so it’s not at all difficult to come around to his way of thinking.

Workplace Learning is also packed full of supporting case studies from companies like Microsoft, PwC and HT2 who have established impressive approaches to workplace learning - essential reading for those looking to make their mark in L&D.




Remember, reading forms a key part of your own ongoing professional development which will help you becoming a forward-thinking, insightful and respected HR practitioner.

Even adding one or two of these books to your reading list will give you new insight and help you stand out to colleagues, managers - and future employers.

Happy reading!


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