One way to keep your employees happy and excited about coming to work is to offer them huge salaries and plenty of time off for vacations. Unfortunately, for the majority of businesses, that’s also a good way to go bankrupt.
A more practical way to keep employees happy is to pay a fair wage and offer desirable benefits. In fact, offering a good benefits package could be the difference for an employee trying to pick between two job offers, citing your benefits as a reason for opting to join your team.
Managing these desirable benefits packages is the job of a human resources department. For small businesses, finding someone to manage HR can represent a significant expense that simply may not be possible at this point in the business’ growth curve.
If this describes your SMB, you can make use of the best HR software package to help you manage employee benefits tracking, as well as other areas an HR department would handle, including hiring, training, and payroll. HR software will simplify the task of tracking this information, greatly enhancing accuracy, which will keep employees informed about the benefits they’re receiving, meaning they’re more likely to access those benefits.
The 7 Best HR Software Options to Consider:
When it Makes Sense to Invest Into HR Software
Although HR software is an extremely beneficial tool for small business owners, it’s not a necessity for every small business. You may not need the added expense of using human resource software just yet in your business’ evolution. Here are some tips to help you determine whether now is the right time to invest in an HR software package.
- Saving time: The biggest reason a small business will choose to begin employing an HR software package is to save time. If you find you are spending too much of your time performing HR services, the best HR software package can take some of this work off of your plate.
- Reducing turnover: If you find your business is losing employees because of frustrations over keeping them notified about the benefits they’ve earned, having an HR software package should allow them to see this information easily through a web portal.
- Empowering employees: Many HR software packages allow employees to take care of tasks like enrolling in a retirement savings package or scheduling vacation days on their own, which saves time for the employer, while allowing employees to feel more in control of their own situation.
- Managing hiring: Hiring new employees can be a time consuming task, but HR software often will help with managing applicant information and helping with onboarding, once the new employee accepts the job.
- Managing growth: When you find that the sheer number of employees you currently have is overwhelming your ability to track HR features manually using your own system, it’s probably time to use HR software to simplify tracking this information. Additionally, HR software is easily scalable, so you can keep up with a growing employee base.
#1 – BambooHR Review — The Best For Ease of Use
A small business owner who has made the decision to implement HR software is almost certainly looking to save time. An easy-to-understand interface in the HR software, such as is found with BambooHR, is a great way to be up and running quickly. You’ll also save time each time you use it because of the simple, yet effective, interface.
BambooHR simplifies setting up different levels of user permissions, which is helpful when multiple people in the organization will be accessing the HR software. BambooHR streamlines the process of finding new employees as well, thanks to its strong job posting feature.
We were a bit disappointed in BambooHR’s mobile app interface. With such a good desktop interface, we expected better performance than we received from the mobile app. A simpler pricing structure would have been nice too.
- Well-designed interface will save you a lot of time
- Nice collection of all-around features
- Helpful in advertising your job openings
- Setting up user permission levels is a snap
- Pricing is confusing and a bit higher than average
- Mobile app interface could be better designed
- Must obtain an individual pricing quote
#2 – Gusto Review — The Best For Generating HR Reports
As one of the best HR software packages, Gusto’s roots are in payroll generation. But it does a nice job with managing all aspects of human resources for employers, especially in terms of onboarding, time clock tracking, and helping with creating employee surveys.
When you want to learn more about how the business is running from an HR standpoint and from an employee satisfaction standpoint, Gusto makes it easy to generate many different kinds of reports. It also will help a small business develop a thorough employee handbook, which can be a key document as your business grows to keep everyone in the organization on the same page.
To obtain comprehensive HR features, you will have to subscribe to the Concierge tier of the Gusto HR software, so it’s a little pricier than some others. If you stick with the Complete tier, your HR features will be extremely limited, and the lowest priced Core tier has no HR services, other than payroll generation.
- Very strong payroll generation features
- Reporting capabilities let you study the business’ performance from an HR angle
- No contracts required
- Must subscribe to priciest tier for full HR feature set
- Customer service responsiveness could be better
- Complete: $39 per month and $12 per month per employee
- Concierge: $149 per month and $12 per month per employee
#3 – Insperity Review — The Best For Simplifying HR
Insperity’s strengths match up well with the small business that wants to offload all of its human resources requirements to a PEO with an HR software arm.
Customer service is excellent with Insperity, ensuring you have the answers to any questions you need. You’ll have access to all of the basic HR services here, as well as benefits packages and payroll processing. Insperity also offers a strong risk management program, ensuring your business is always in compliance with required industry standards.
As a PEO instead of pure HR software, Insperity may have more features than you need, taking away some of the control of your company’s HR management from you. But if you want to keep HR management as simple as possible by outsourcing the majority of the work, leaving you with only minimal tasks to do through the HR software, Insperity does the trick.
- Checks all of the boxes for managing HR
- Works for nearly any size of business
- Will help you with your needs for risk management and industry compliance standards
- As a PEO, it may be more powerful than you need
- Pricing can be a little confusing
- Must obtain an individual pricing quote
#4 – Zenefits Review — The Best For Complete Benefits Management
Best For Complete Benefits Management
Zenefits is one of the easiest HR software packages to use, delivering strong mobile and desktop portals, but it doesn't skimp on performance, offering a strong feature set.
For small and medium businesses seeking a powerful HR software package that helps them operate like a much larger enterprise, Zenefits has the capabilities they need. Even with an excellent feature list, Zenefits remains easy to use for SMBs that may not have a person dedicated to handling the needs of human resources.
We were especially impressed with Zenefits mobile app, which helps an HR administrator manage the company’s benefits package from anywhere. Zenefits primary web portal is easy to use as well.
For those businesses that also need strong payroll services in their HR software, Zenefits offers payroll management, but it’s not quite as strongly integrated with the software as some others on our list of the best HR software packages.
- Excellent interfaces in both mobile and web portals
- Outstanding feature set
- Relatively easy to use
- Software is scalable as your business grows
- Payroll generation features feel tacked on to the HR software
- Numerous add-on costs for extra features
- Essential: $8 per month per employee
- Growth: $14 per month per employee
- Zen: $21 per month per employee
#5 – ADP Workforce Now Review — The Best For Tracking Analytics
ADP Workforce Now
Best for Tracking Analytics
Keep your business on track from both a performance and human resources standpoint with the detailed real time analytics found in ADP Workforce Now.
As your SMB grows, tracking your business’ performance and the HR department’s performance can become challenging. ADP Workforce Now has you covered in this area, as its real time analytics tracking ensures you can study your performance from a multitude of angles.
For those who must manage HR services while out of the office, ADP’s well-designed web based interface carries over into its mobile app. Onboarding employees and enrolling them into the benefits plan is easy with ADP as well.
Workforce Now is made for those businesses with 50 or more employees. Smaller organizations will want to consider RUN Powered by ADP instead. Either way, you will have to subscribe to a higher priced tier to receive HR management services, as ADP’s basic services focus on payroll generation.
- Easy-to-use web and desktop portal
- Tracks business data in real time
- Simplifies the process of enrolling new employees in the company’s benefits plans
- Pricing could be easier to understand
- The best HR features are only offered in the higher priced tiers
- Must obtain an individual pricing quote
#6 – Paycor Review — The Best For Payroll Management
Best for Payroll Management
When it comes to payroll management, all HR software is not designed the same. Paycor stands out from the crowd with its excellent mix of advanced payroll generation features and its basic HR management capabilities.
For the small business owner who wants strong payroll management services from the best HR software, Paycor provides a great starting point. Paycor certainly can simplify other aspects of HR management in your business, but its core and strongest features involve handling payroll.
When you are looking for help with hiring and onboarding, Paycor has a strong feature set in these areas too, greatly simplifying the process of tracking job applicants. Obtaining the information needed for onboarding a new hire goes quickly with Paycor’s streamlined process.
However, if your business offers anything but the basics for employee benefits, Paycor may struggle to keep up with what you need. Pricing isn’t as easy to understand as it should be either.
- Delivers outstanding payroll management features
- Will help you with hiring and onboarding new employees
- Web portal interface is well-designed
- Doesn’t handle nontraditional employee benefits tracking well
- Customer service is below average
- Basic: $99 per month to start
- Essential: $149 per month to start
- Complete: $199 per month to start
#7 – TriNet Review — The Best For Extremely Small Businesses
Best for Extremely Small Businesses
TriNet merges the best features of a PEO with a strong HR software package, giving your small business the resources it needs to deliver excellent HR management results to your employees.
If your business needs the best of both a PEO service and HR software, TriNet will give you excellent results. It offers a multitude of specialists to help with your human resources needs, many of whom match up with the type of industry in which you work.
TriNet does not require a minimum number of employees, and it doesn’t require its clients to sign a long-term contract, so it works nicely for extremely small businesses.
If you’re seeking customized packages of features, TriNet does not give you this option. You’ll have to take all of its features when you begin using the service.
- Does not require a minimum number of employees
- Reasonably priced with no contract required
- Will provide access to specialists that match your line of business
- Very limited customization
- As more of a PEO than an HR software only service, it may be more restrictive than you want at this time
- Must obtain an individual pricing quote
Methodology For Choosing The Best HR Software
As you compare the items on our list of the best HR software, you’ll find a variety of features to consider. However, not all of these features will add value for your business. You don’t want to be paying extra for features that you don’t really need.
Think about the features that are most important for your business’ human resources needs. Then focus on an HR software service that delivers those above all else. Here are the features we emphasized when selecting our list of the best HR software services.
With HR software, you could encounter a few different types of costs, including:
- Setup fee
- Monthly base fee
- Monthly fee per employee tracked
- Percentage of total company salaries paid each month
- Extra fees for extra features
Some HR software packages will require that you agree to a 12-month contract for service, while others will operate on a month-by-month basis. If you agree to an annual contract, you may receive an introductory discounted monthly base fee for a few months, or you may receive a month or two of service with no base fee.
With an employee portal in the HR software, you’ll be able to save a lot of time answering questions from employees about the status of their benefits. Employees can check their information any time they want through the portal. They also may be able to schedule vacation days or enroll in programs like retirement plans.
Hiring and Performance Tracking
When it’s time to hire, some types of HR software can help you track applicants, manage the hiring process, collect information for employee enrollment, and schedule training sessions.
Once the employee is onboarded, your HR software should track employee performance, schedule quarterly or annual reviews, and monitor whether the employee is reaching his or her goals.
Some types of HR software give companies a mobile app through which the HR administrator can make changes to the plans from anywhere. This is an especially helpful feature for those HR administrators who don’t spend a lot of time in the office.
HR software that helps you manage your employees’ benefits plans will greatly simplify the amount of work you need to do with these plans.
If your business has some nontraditional employee benefit plans, look for an HR software package that gives you the ability to customize the software to match the way you need to track these features.
Many types of HR software packages will allow you to run your payroll, automatically calculating the amount of time each employee has worked and the proper salary. The HR software then will submit payment to the employee through the desired method, including cutting a check or making a bank account deposit.
You may have a separate payroll software package already. If so, look for an HR software that’s compatible with your current payroll software or consider switching to an HR software package that can take over your payroll duties.
HR departments must track extremely sensitive data about the company’s employees. The company must protect this data, or it could face some significant problems.
When the HR software exists in the cloud, the HR software provider will be able to apply significant security measures, giving you a higher level of protection that you probably can achieve on your own with hardware on your premises.
Tracking Time Off
One benefit that employees find especially important is the tracking of sick days and vacation time. If the HR department makes a mistake in the amount of vacation time an employee has accumulated, the employee is going to be extremely upset.
HR software should track all of this information automatically for you, catching data entry mistakes and ensuring all employees can see exactly what their vacation time and sick days look like.
The administrator of the HR software may be able to set up user permissions, only allowing those accessing the software to see the parts of the software that they need to do their jobs. This is a valuable tool when multiple people will be using the HR software.
Summary: Running a Business With HR Software Versus a PEO
When considering the best HR software, you may also hear about PEOs, or professional employer organizations. PEO services perform some of the same features as HR software packages, but the two types of services are different at the core.
A PEO works with you to provide human resources features. The PEO will help with employee training, tax calculation, compliance with industry standards, and other items. With HR software, you are simply tracking the human resources information in the software. Think of a PEO like an outsourced human resources department, while HR software is a tool that helps you manage your HR features yourself.
With HR software, you or your designated HR administrator must do the data entry and management of the HR features and employee benefits for the company. The HR software keeps things organized, helping with calculations and error checking.
HR software is less expensive than hiring a PEO, and it allows you to maintain more control. HR software is an excellent starting point for many small businesses, allowing them to try to manage human resources on their own initially. If you later find that managing the HR software is taking up too much of your time, you can always migrate to a PEO if desired.