Don’t spend your hard-earned cash on expensive textbooks – here’s our pick of the free HR ebooks
1. Good Work, Great Technology: enabling strategic HR success through digital tools by Jo Faragher
What: An inside look at how organisations are using different technologies to attract, engage, develop, and manage their workforce, and the positive impact that’s making to HR teams and the wider employee experience.
Why you should read it: The book presents actionable strategies, research and lessons learned from around the world of work, while making the case for the power of integrated people technology – showing how rather than trying to get every single software solution from a single provider, there are significant benefits to be had from selecting the best technologies for an organisation’s particular needs that can easily link with the people data in their central HR system.
2. Staying Relevant in the Workplace: Develop Lifelong Learning Mindsets by Dr J Brassey and Professor Dr Nick H M van Dam
What: Two senior partners from global consulting firm McKinsey have teamed up to create this essential guide to continuous learning and professional development.
Why you should read it: Too often HR and L&D professionals fall foul of the old ‘cobbler’s children’ adage: of supporting others to learn while neglecting their own development.
3. HRYP Guide: Tips and advice for young HR professionals, by Ben Eubanks
What: Advice for HR young professionals (HRYPs) from a seasoned SHRM member
Why you should read it: Those starting out on their HR careers will find the advice invaluable, while more established HR professionals will discover what their younger colleagues are worried about – and how to help.
4. Conflict management in the workplace: how to manage disagreements and develop trust and understanding, by Shay and Margaret McConnon
What: A substantial guide to one of HR’s perennial problems.
Why you should read it: It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of using the same techniques to solve recurring challenges. Step back and get a different perspective.
5. The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders, edited by Dave Ulrich, William A Schiemann and Libby Sartain
What: A 2015 collection of essays from HR’s global leading lights, covering pretty much every current HR concern you can think of, from strategy to digital transformation, culture, transparency, talent, analytics, and much more.
Why you should read it: It’s quite long, but it’s probably the best free summation of the profession’s current thinking and concerns you’ll find.
6. The Anatomy of Ethical Leadership, by Lyse Langlois
What: An exploration of where ethics can come into conflict with modern business goals, and how to take a more ethical approach to HR.
Why you should read it: Few organisations can afford the potential reputational damage caused by a collapse in ethics.
7. The 4th Industrial Revolution & the Future of Jobs, by Professor Dr Nick H M van Dam
What: A thorough yet easily digestible overview of how technology might transform the future of work.
Why you should read it: Technology is moving fast and HR can’t afford to be left behind.
8. HR Most Influential Interview Book by HR magazine
What: Experts from Ashridge Executive Education interview top HR thought leaders such as Sandy Begbie, global head of people and integration at Standard Life, and Valerie Hughes D’Aeth, group HR director at the BBC
Why you should read it: Your chance to find out what’s keeping top HR practitioners up at night – and the secrets you can emulate in your own organisation
This article was first published in October 2012. It was updated in April 2018, March 2021, and September 2022 for freshness, accuracy and clarity.