HR Summer Reading List: 10 Great Reads


There’s nothing like cracking open a great book when lounging on the beach or sitting on the porch with a cold glass of lemonade in the summer. That is probably why summer reading lists are so popular. HR leaders are managing change, tending to mental health and wellness (their own and their hires), and redefining work. It’s a tall order and reading can help them navigate these choppy waters. 

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These titles – old and new – made HR Exchange Network’s summer reading list because they either appeared regularly on reviewer’s choices for best business or best HR reading or they are among Amazon’s bestseller’s list. All of them offer advice and cover subjects that are relevant to the times

Essential HR Handbook (Tenth Anniversary Edition)

By Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell

A perennial bestseller, this book’s tenth anniversary edition was published in January 2019 before the pandemic. However, the advice is evergreen and applicable to Human Resources regardless of what people leaders are facing. The authors recognize HR as being far more than an administrative department. Armstrong and Mitchell provide the necessary tools and lessons for creating a strategy, connecting talent management to the organization’s greater goals and mission, handling succession planning, and more. 

READ: Succession Planning in the New Normal

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

By Christopher Mulligan and Craig Taylor

Just about every HR leader is looking to improve retention, especially in the era of the Great Resignation. This book offers actionable advice and features case studies, research-based methods, and proven tactics for nurturing relationships with employees that will endure. Mulligan and Taylor promise to provide tips for highly successful organizations for strengthening culture and cultivating ties among colleagues. 

READ: 6 Popular TED Talks That Can Help HR Transform Work 

Bring Your Human to Work

By Erica Keswin

In this book, Keswin offers case studies from Lyft, Starbucks, Mogul, and SoulCycle to demonstrate how to build a human workplace. To start, she considers how companies are defining “human workplace.” Realizing that many are trying to get past digital distractions and encourage work-life balance by encouraging employees to take vacation, she suggests taking further steps and being bolder. Ultimately, this book is about going beyond those little efforts, important as they are, and putting human relationships at the forefront of the business model. 

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Help You Live and Lead

By Laszlo Bock

Bock is head of Google’s Innovative People Operations, and this book, which is a New York Times bestseller, offers an inside look on how he manages talent at the tech juggernaut. The real takeaway from this book is how to make the workplace employee-centric. The list of rules are compelling and make the book both informative, entertaining, and personal. It’s a quick read and an important one as the world shifts toward HR that champions the workers over bottom lines and executive privelege. 

WATCH: Fireside Chat with Learning and Development Leader at Google

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

By Daniel Goleman

By now everyone knows about the concept of emotional intelligence and the reason they know is because of this book. The latest edition is in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary in 2019. To begin, Goleman explains how he first came across the term emotional intelligence and was drawn to it because it tied feelings and reason, which seemed like polar opposites. He delves into the definition of emotional intelligence, explains why it is so much more than shorthand for someone who is nice, and even describes how the brain functions. 

READ: How Empathy Makes for Effective Leadership

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

By Bjørn Ekelund

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are among the top priorities of today’s HR leaders. After all, diversity leads to innovation and better business outcomes by all accounts. It also helps forge community among people who may not come together without the excuse of their work. In this book, readers will learn about identifying common language and building trust with their teams. It provides guidance on how to communicate with people who have different perspectives and come from different cultural backgrounds. The author uses a program, Diversity Icebreaker, to help leaders break down barriers and promote diversity. 

READ: HR Guide to DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Innovator’s Dilemma

By Clayton M. Christensen

Innovator’s Dilemma was reportedly a favorite book of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Apple founder Steve Jobs. This is a Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller, so it has street cred with the business folks. In addition, it is among the 100 leadership and success books to read in a lifetime, according to Amazon editors. This book is about disruptive innovation. It made the list for HR leaders because they are the disruptors of this moment when the workplace is transforming and employees are demanding something entirely different than what they had before. 

WATCH: HR Tech Live

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

By Carol S. Dweck 

Dweck is the well-known psychologist credited with introducing the world to the growth mindset. Bill Gates is a fan of the book and wrote, “Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life.” In fact, the book explains how to change the way one thinks about her abilities and talents to help move toward greater success. 

READ: Treat Employees Like Customers

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

By James Clear

Clear makes big promises to help people swiftly change the systems in their life that are enabling them to form and maintain bad habits, so they can make room for good ones. He shares advice on how to take small steps toward improving everyday life. This is aimed at teams and individuals, who are interested in performing better and reaching certain goals. It even offers solutions on creating the right environment for forming good habits. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

This book dates back to 1936, and it is on the shelf of every businessperson with a modicum of interest in achieving success. It’s not just for businesspeople. This is a guide to being human. At the heart of this book is the desire to teach people to form bonds and relationships in both their personal and professional lives. It’s a primer on being a good person, and it is as relevant now as it ever was. 

What books will you be reading on the beach this summer? Let us know on LinkedIn or Twitter

Photo by Pixabay for Pexels

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