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Lucy McCarraher

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The six most inspirational HR and Management books for 2021

Which books should you be adding to your reading lists for the year ahead?

The year 2020 will always be remembered as a pivotal one for HR as a profession, as organisations around the world had to adapt to unprecedented challenges and new ways of working. It was fascinating to see how the entries we received for the ‘HR and Management’ category of the Business Book Awards reflected these challenges, with some really strong advice to help leaders thrive in the new world of work.

The shortlist for the Business Book Awards 2021 was recently announced and our expert panel of judges selected the titles that should be on every HR professional’s bookshelf.

Here are their top six picks…

Flexible Working: How to Implement Flexibility in the Workplace to Improve Employee and Business Performance by Gemma Dale, RRP £29.99.

The past year has seen many businesses introduce new flexible working as a business necessity, but a desire for flexible working has now become a key concern for many employees. It spans genders, ages and family circumstances, with 37% of millennials declining a job offer if working flexibly isn’t an option and 78% of employees over 50 wanting more flexible hours.

This book is a practical guide for HR practitioners showing how to develop an effective flexible working strategy that meets the needs of both employees and the business. Learn how to develop effective flexibility policies and processes as well as how to communicate and train line managers on these practices.

It also includes advice on how to overcome barriers to flexible working, dispels common myths and offers guidance on the different forms of flexible working available to organisations. A must-have for the post-pandemic business world.

Leap into HR Consulting: How to move successfully from Corporate to HR Consulting by Sarah Hamilton-Gill, RRP £19.99

The world of work has changed forever. With Covid-19, Brexit and new working patterns, HR professionals are encountering increased uncertainty in the workplace. The upside of this is that many have realised that they no longer need to leave their future in the hands of others and many HR professionals are leaving the corporate world behind to gain flexibility, freedom, and more control.

But without guidance, the transition into consulting is rarely straightforward. You may be excited but held back by fears or concerns about how to do this, or overwhelmed with too much information and conflicting advice. Author Sarah Hamilton-Gill draws on 26 years of consulting experience to guide would-be HR consultants in setting up, launching and running their own HR Consultancy business.

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees by Gill Hasson & Donna Butler, RRP £12.99

The importance of good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is a subject of increased public awareness and governmental attention, and likely to become even more so in the coming months. 

The Department of Health advises that one in four people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. This important book contains expert guidance for improving mental health and supporting those experiencing mental ill health. It addresses the range of issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing in work environments. Detailed, real-world case studies illustrate a variety of associated concerns from both employer and employee perspectives. 

Personalization at Work: How HR Can Use Job Crafting to Drive Performance, Engagement and Wellbeing, by Rob Baker, RRP £29.99

The potential benefits of personalisation on workforces are huge. When job roles are personalised, employees are more interested, engaged and motivated at work. The responsibility for enabling this lies with HR and people professionals, and a key approach to doing this is via job crafting. 

This is a practical guide explaining what job crafting is, why it’s important, what the benefits are and more broadly how a personalised approach can be brought to all aspects of HR including recruitment, learning and development, performance management, diversity and inclusion, and reward. 

Case studies from companies who have already seen the benefits of a personalised approach include Virgin Money, Widerøe airlines, Logitech, Google and Connect Health. 

Solving the Productivity Puzzle: How to Engage, Motivate and Develop Employees to Improve Individual and Business Performance by Tim Ringo, RRP £19.99

We all know that an engaged and productive workforce is essential for organisational growth and business success. But record levels of disengaged staff, a lack of motivation and employees feeling that they lack necessary skills and support is putting this in jeopardy.

This book offers a practical guide that shows how to address the challenge of stagnating people productivity. It covers how to embed learning and development activities to ensure that employees feel equipped with the skills they need to meet their goals. It shows how to motivate a workforce made up of six generations with competing priorities. And it demonstrates how to develop an effective workforce planning strategy to make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time, with the right motivation in the organisation to build a company culture that allows people to thrive.

Essential reading for HR professionals needing to supercharge productivity in their organisation for both employee and business success.

The Energized Workplace: Designing Organizations where People Flourish by Perry Timms, RRP £19.99

Many people would argue that productivity today is flatlining, employee wellbeing is at an all-time low and stress at an all-time high. Mental health issues are now the biggest single disability affecting the UK and are estimated to cost the economy £105bn each year. 

Traditional company design, structures and processes are making these issues worse and leading to unprecedented levels of staff burnout. This not only impacts individual employees, there is also a detrimental effect on overall company performance when employees can’t perform to their full potential. This important book provides a blueprint for HR leaders to address these issues and redesign work to allow people to flourish and businesses to thrive. 

The winners of the Business Book Awards will be announced at a live event in May 2021. Find out more:

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