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(HR) Holiday Reading List

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year.  Many of us are counting down to a well-earned break over the Holiday /New Year period.  With travel options limited, we have the chance to unwind and take the opportunity to rejuvenate our minds with fresh contemplation. Some of us even make it a New Year’s resolution to read more – especially those key business reads that we mean to get around to.

We asked a number of Human Capital industry thought leaders about what’s on their (HR) Holiday Reading list.  So, whether you pack the paperbacks, load up the Kindle or pop on the noise-cancelling headphones for an audiobook or podcast, you’ll find some great business reading ideas here, curated for your inspiration.

I’m really looking forward to spending more time going for walks and relaxing at the beach this summer break. Taking time to reflect and recharge.  My hope for 2021 is that we continue to reimagine work and we put in place lasting changes to make work better for people, and people better at work.  I’ve become big fan of listening to podcasts, as they allow me to engage with new content whilst out and about.

I’m planning on catching up on Adam Grant’s “WorkLife” podcasts, as well as the ABC’s “This Working Life”. As the names suggest, these podcasts engage experts to unpack different ideas and experiments for improving our work-life balance and overall work experience.  

For books, my top picks are a re-read of “Atomic Habits” by James Clear as I am keen to think through what habits I can establish for myself and our teams to improve work and life; secondly I am looking forward to reading “Seeing Around Corners” by Rita McGrath in order to reflect on key inflection points and how we can take advantage of these.  Finally, for shorter reads, I am going to delve into the articles in our Deloitte 2021 Global Human Capital Trends Report. Having only just been published, this exciting new report details how organisations can shift from a ‘survive mindset’ to a ‘thrive mindset’ in the coming year.

I’m a great believer in exploring thinking and ideas outside the traditional HR boundaries and integrating new learning into the future of People Management. Two readings stood out for me this year which I would recommend. “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”, a book by Social Psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, which is a fascinating and timely read on why we think in particular ways and why we struggle to change. Don’t let the book title distract you, I found it very inciteful from a COVID, WFH perspective and it has great value to offer how we change our future workplaces.

My second recommendation is an audio book called “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. This listening experience will simply astonish you about the power of our brains, and how neuroplasticity can transform us. It’s inspirational and I found myself applying the insights to how we may need to adapt as humans in a future AI world.

Like many people, the loss of my daily commute has meant that I’ve forgone books for quick reads – mostly online articles and blogs.  I’m already planning my summer reading, both fiction and non-fiction. Top of my non-fiction list is “Be Fierce” by Gretchen Carlson who is speaking at AHRI’s International Women’s Day event in March next year. I’m fascinated by the concept of emotion-AI as pioneered by Rana El Kaliouby so I’m looking forward to reading “Girl Decoded: My Quest to Make Technology Emotionally Intelligent – and Change the Way We Interact Forever”. And I had a great conversation with Dave Ulrich recently so his and Arthur Yueng’s “Reinventing the Organization” is also on my list for summer.

I’m going to be driving for a few days over the break. I’m looking forward to using that time to catch up on podcasts, including the “Unlocking Us” and “Dare to Lead” series by Brene Brown, “Walking Your Talk” by Carolyn Taylor and a new one I’ve recently heard about called “Terrible Thanks for Asking” by Nora McInerny.

As far as books go, I plan on finishing “Emotional Agility” by Susan David and “The 100 Year Life” by Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton. I’m also packing “Self-Fidelity” by Cassandra Goodman and “Reinventing the Organisation” by Yeung and Ulrich. When it’s time for a good novel I have “The Dictionary of Lost Words” ready to go.

Two from me:  “What the CEO wants to know” – by Ram Charan.  Why? Well, it’s time to be business person in HR, not a HR person in business.  And also “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, for wanting to live and work better and perhaps change your life ….

Marc Benioff’s book, “Trailblazer”, takes a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of one of the world’s most admired companies.   Benioff has created a resilient organisation and he credits that success to the strength of the company’s values, which have inspired employees to do the best work of their lives, empowered them to be agents of change and created a culture that has thrived in the face of disruption.  Furthermore, Benioff has a view that success requires an organisation to look outside their walls and serve the greater good.

Salesforce is a company which draws many parallels with Workday, where our company values firmly guide everything we do.  At Workday, we believe that we’re not here to just make the world of work brighter, but to create opportunity for all and make a positive impact on our communities.   I’m looking forward to reading Marc Benioff’s book to learn more about how he has fostered a culture that brings about positive change.