People & Leadership
10 essential HR books to read in 2023 – and why they should be top of your list
Hands up if you’ve got HR and management books languishing on the shelves, gathering dust, waiting for their turn to be read?
If so, are they still relevant to what’s going on in HR today? Are they future-focused and inspirational?
To keep your reading list up to date, we’ve compiled a list of 10 must-read books for HR leaders in 2023 that cover the HR challenges and opportunities we identified in our research, The changing face of HR.
Read on for our top picks that will enable you to come away with the knowledge to drive the change you want to see in your organisation in 2023 and beyond.
Here’s what we cover:
- 1. HR disrupted: It’s time for something different (2nd edition)
- 2. Agile HR: Deliver value in a changing world of work
- 3. Redefining HR: Transforming people teams to drive business performance
- 4. People strategy: How to invest in people and make culture your competitive advantage
- 5. Feedback (and other dirty words): Why we fear it, how to fix it
- 6. HR for hybrid working: How to adapt people practices to support employees and the organisation
- 7. Inclusion revolution: The essential guide to dismantling racial inequity in the workplace
- 8. Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace: A practical guide for employers and employees
- 9. The 9 faces of HR: A disruptor’s guide to mastering innovation and driving real change
- 10. The heart of business: Leadership principles for the next era of capitalism
- A shorter essential read for you…
1. HR disrupted: It’s time for something different (2nd edition)
Isn’t it about time for HR’s big rebrand? With so much change that HR’s experienced over the past few years, nearly three-quarters (73%) of HR leaders say the term ‘human resources’ is outdated.
With this dramatic shift in the way we work, HR disrupted author Lucy Adams insists that traditional HR is no longer fit for purpose and needs to evolve into a more modern function.
This book provides HR leaders with a compelling case for changing the way HR works, offering practical solutions for a disrupted world, strategies to make the changes you want to see, and ways to equip you with the right capabilities and mindset to rethink HR.
Find out more about: HR disrupted: It’s time for something different (2nd edition)
2. Agile HR: Deliver value in a changing world of work
Natal Dank and Riina Hellström’s book is an essential guide for all HR practitioners wanting to make their HR practices agile and drive business performance but don’t know where to start.
The book covers every aspect of HR, from people processes and ways of working to organisational design, operating models and HR teams. It also deals with resistance within the organisation and how to prioritise activities effectively.
More than 80% of HR leaders believe that HR today is organised for speed, agility and adaptability, our Sage research found, and there is a widespread consensus in the HR community that the days of HR being seen as an admin function–simply managing ‘humans as a resource’ – should have moved on.
In reality, more than 70% of HR leaders say their teams are still stuck on process. Does this sound like your organisation? If so, now is the time to rethink how you do HR – and adopting a more agile way of working could be the ideal place to start.
Find out more about: Agile HR: Deliver value in a changing world of work
3. Redefining HR: Transforming people teams to drive business performance
Business performance is a top priority for business leaders – but what about HR? Worryingly, just 13% of HR leaders are focusing on financial growth today, despite looking after the company’s biggest asset – its people.
Redefining HR author Lars Schmidt demonstrates how important understanding your people analytics and the return on investment (ROI) of the work that you do contributes and drives business performance.
In his in-depth guide to the fundamental components of modern HR, Lars provides a tangible framework of progressive ideas and practices, including new perspectives and approaches for rethinking recruitment, talent management, performance, and rewards to save time, reduce costs, and achieve greater business success.
Find out more about: Redefining HR: Transforming people teams to drive business performance
4. People strategy: How to invest in people and make culture your competitive advantage
83% of HR leaders told us that employee experiences and satisfaction will continue to become more of a focus for HR, as the function moves away from admin towards a more strategic and people-focused role.
In this book, Jack Altman offers a framework for developing high-performing teams, improving employee motivation, and using data to create a positive company culture.
He shows how to establish the values for your organisation, develop feedback processes that empower employees, monitor employee engagement, and use data and insights created by your people strategy to drive business results.
Find out more about: People strategy: How to invest in people and make culture your competitive advantage
5. Feedback (and other dirty words): Why we fear it, how to fix it
Performance management is one of the most crucial areas of focus for nurturing your talent. But worryingly, 75% of HR leaders don’t believe their current performance management process is fit for purpose.
Feedback’s authors, M Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish, offer a practical guide to taking the sting out of feedback and reclaiming it as a motivating, empowering experience for everyone involved.
They offer a new and more ambitious definition of feedback, exploring the roles we each play as Seeker, Extender and Receiver, and introduce the three Fs of making feedback focused, fair and frequent.
Find out more about: Feedback (and other dirty words): Why we fear it, how to fix it
6. HR for hybrid working: How to adapt people practices to support employees and the organisation
As hybrid working increasingly becomes the norm, our research found that a hybrid working strategy is in the top five priorities for HR leaders in 2024.
If you’re on the lookout for a thorough how-to guide for hybrid working, Gary Cookson covers everything that HR need in a hybrid working model in this read.
He shows why and how contracts, policies, pay and reward terms need to change. He also covers how to manage changing employee expectations, and how to assess and communicate how work can be done remotely as well as managing the impact on company culture.
He also reveals how to adapt learning and development and wellbeing activities to ensure they support employee development, and what technology solutions to use.
There’s a dedicated section on the new skills needed by HR professionals as organisational roles, structures and processes change in a hybrid-working model.
Find out more about: HR for hybrid working: How to adapt people practices to support employees and the organisation
7. Inclusion revolution: The essential guide to dismantling racial inequity in the workplace
More than half of HR leaders told us that they will play a leading role in diversity, equity and inclusion in their organisations.
In this book, Daisy Auger-Domínguez focuses on how you can take a leading role by accurately tracking diversity metrics for hiring, retention and growth.
She provides frank answers to why popular efforts fail and presents the definitive roadmap for revolution via her dynamic step-by-step process: reflect, visualise, act and persist.
She also offers proven, research-based strategies for racially inclusive management.
Find out more about: Inclusion revolution: The essential guide to dismantling racial inequity in the workplace
8. Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace: A practical guide for employers and employees
HR leaders told us dealing with employee health and wellbeing will be increasingly important in the next three years with 65% saying they will play a leading role in this area.
In this book, Gill Hasson and Donna Butler discuss why and how to promote mental health in the workplace and the importance of having an effective wellbeing strategy.
They provide guidance on managing staff experiencing mental ill health and dealing with two of the most common issues facing employees: stress and anxiety.
With 81% of HR leaders saying they feel burnt out today, this book provides practical advice to support your employees – and it will help you and your HR team, too.
Find out more about: Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace: A practical guide for employers and employees
9. The 9 faces of HR: A disruptor’s guide to mastering innovation and driving real change
A whopping 90% of HR leaders told us that a major challenge facing HR teams’ success is the perceived value of their worth internally.
In this book, Kris Dunn depicts the nine personas in HR. Written in his usual wicked humour and wit, Kris invites readers to identify their own ‘HR Face’ then understand their career tracks, behavioural markers, ROI, macro-trends driving behaviour and market demand.
Which persona are you?
Which one do you want to be?
Whichever one it is, this is your playbook for empowering your HR career and elevating the value of HR within your organisation.
Find out more about: The 9 faces of HR: A disruptor’s guide to mastering innovation and driving real change
10. The heart of business: Leadership principles for the next era of capitalism
Finally, 91% of HR leaders say they have the right skills to become business leaders, our research found.
In this Wall Street Journal bestseller, Hubert Joly shares his philosophy on leadership: pursue a noble purpose, put people at the centre of the business, create an environment where every employee can blossom and treat profit as the right outcome but not the goal.
The approach is easy to understand but putting it into practice is harder to do, which is why this book provides hints and tips to reimagine work, motivate and lead with purpose and humanity.
Find out more about: The heart of business: Leadership principles for the next era of capitalism
A shorter essential read for you…
There you have it – 10 essential HR books to read in 2023.
However, if you’re too busy to get stuck into this reading list right now, have a read of our research, The changing face of HR in 2024.
The report shares more revealing findings from HR leaders and C-suite execs about how HR’s changing, its future and how to solve HR’s challenges.
It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for a much shorter next read that’s packed full of insights and takeaways.
Recommended Next Read
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The changing face of HR in 2024
From process to people, take a peek at the paradoxes facing HR leaders today by downloading this research report.
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