Nothing beats a good book while you’re soaking up the sun. Our summer HR book shortlist takes you out of the realm of pure productivity tips to get you thinking about your biggest challenges. Before you jet off, slip one of these titles into your carry-on and return to the office rested and ready to go.
Cubed: The Secret History of the Workplace
Why HR pros will enjoy it: You spend a lot of time analyzing your team’s culture and environment. Instead of giving casual productivity tips (open plan office or casual seating?), Cubed mixes it up by taking you back to the beginning of office work itself. Whether you work in a felted cubicle or at a spacious shared table, Saval will give you a new perspective on the place we call work.
Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
Rich Karlgaard and Michael Malone
Why HR pros will enjoy it: What Cubed does for the workplace, this book does for teams. Authors Karlgaard and Malone ask, “we depend on [teams] for both our professional success and our personal happiness, but isn’t it odd how little scrutiny we give them?” How many people are in an ideal team? How do you improve teams? How can teams weather change? How are they born, how do they scale, and when should they die? Team Genius is an in-depth look at everything you’d ever want to know about teams and how they function.
Why HR pros will enjoy it: Friedman blends up Cubed and Team Genius, chewing on what differentiates engaging workplaces from boring ones as he documents a formula for creating great workplace vibes. How do you hire and motivate top people? How do you create a culture that makes people happier, more creative and more productive? He distills this advice into entertaining stories and practical advice for readers.
Why HR pros will enjoy it: If the idea of Work from Home Wednesdays sparks nightmares of mass unproductivity, take a peek at how Automattic makes it work. Their team works remotely from all around the globe building web-devouring products like WordPress. Remote work skeptics and supporters will come away from Berkun’s book with a deeper understanding of when and why flexible work arrangements work.
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
Patrick M. Lencioni
Why HR pros will enjoy it: What makes an organization healthy? Lencioni’s answer: when management, operations and culture are in harmony. Too often, management dismisses notions of “organizational health” as fluffy and secondary to “results,” when in reality, bad culture is a silent killer, generating high turnover, lack of engagement and, simply, bad work. Lencioni’s book is great if you need to make a stronger case for getting HR a seat at the table.
Why HR pros will enjoy it: HR isn’t just about admin and compliance. It lives at your company’s core and has the greatest insight into the company’s health, starting with its people. A “surprising, unconventional book” that argues against many common HR practices around topics like hiring, pay and performance, Bock’s book is required reading for those who want to jumpstart their strategies.
Why HR pros will enjoy it: What’s success? In Thrive, the co-founder of The Huffington Post asks readers to take a long, hard look at what they’re striving for. For Huffington, money and power aren’t enough. Instead of focusing exclusively on climbing the career ladder, she offers a third metric for success, well-being, that should factor into how we think of “the good life.” HR pros will love Thrive for its personal lessons, but can apply those lessons broadly to their teams, too, helping workers set sights as much on meaning as profit.
Play it Away: A Workaholic’s Guide to Anxiety
Why HR pros will enjoy it: Too much caffeine, too little sleep. For many power performers subsisting on little more than 3 a.m. espresso shots and the promise of growing bigger, better, faster and more successful, the end result is burnout, even if it accompanies success. Hoehn delivers the antidote and frames a new way of thinking about work—days and networking events fused with play. Because wrangling unproductive workaholism starts with HR, see where play fits in and how it makes us happier, better workers.