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Operations

Paycor Review

There’s no shortage of payroll software tools on the market today. But Paycor stands out with a fairly unique approach to serving small and medium businesses. This software suite lets you handle most of your HR and payroll functions from a unified platform. Small businesses may not need to delegate these critical functions to unqualified staff or outsource to expensive third parties.

The idea that you could hire employees, manage workflow, and pay your staff using the same software sounds like a dream come true for small business owners. So we set out to find out if Paycor delivers on its promise. 

Paycor Home Page

Comparing Paycor to the Best Payroll Software Options

Paycor didn’t make it onto our top list of the best payroll software tools. However, that isn’t because it’s a bad product. On the contrary, Paycor has successfully created a hybrid payroll and full-service human capital management (HCM) system. 

It is challenging to compare Paycor to your run-of-the-mill payroll software. You can tell it’s designed for small businesses that don’t want to manage or pay for separate payroll and human resource solutions. However, Paycor is hardly unique in its approach. Industry veteran ADP Workforce Now also combines payroll with HCM, for instance. 

We’ve decided to give Paycor a fair shake and see how it compares to our top picks for the best payroll software. 

Please check out our in-depth review of the best payroll software

Paycor: The Good and The Bad 

Here’s what we liked most about Paycor:

The Good 

More Than a Payroll Solution: Paycor offers much of the same payroll features you’d expect from competitors such as Gusto and OnPay. However, Paycor also combines human capital management (HCM) solutions and human resources information system (HRIS) capabilities in its payroll offerings. 

This extends Paycor’s capabilities well beyond just payroll. For example, you can process payroll, recruit new employees, plan employee compensation, and schedule employees from a single unified platform. 

Intuitive User Interface (UI): You’d expect software with this many features to be clunky and difficult to manage. Paycor has a reasonably steep learning curve, which is hardly surprising given its extensive capabilities. But, the UI is very clean, intuitive, and easy to manage. 

Paycor has done a great job of making it easy to switch between programs and refine settings. The software also offers built-in prompts and walk-throughs if you get stuck using the programs. 

Responsive Customer Support: Even the best payroll software has issues and bugs. So you need a responsive customer support team if you have a problem. Paycor offers support across multiple channels, including phone, online chat, email, help center, in-software support, and social media. 

Paycor also has a team of payroll experts if you need one-on-one professional guidance. This support is handy if you’re running payroll for the first time. The company’s reps are also very knowledgeable and can help you get the right combination of features for your specific needs. 

Constant Updates: Paycor was founded in 1990 compared to ADP Workforce, which has been around since 1949. However, Paycor is fast catching up with its main competitor, ADP Workforce. Today, Paycor is constantly rolling out new features, updates, upgrades, and add-ons. The recent changes also automatically apply to your account, thanks to the software’s cloud-based delivery model.  

Valuable Reporting: The software has a robust reporting feature. You can generate production-quality reports from virtually any Paycor database, including custom fields. Paycor also makes it very easy to create reports across all its features. 

The Bad 

Despite being competent payroll software, not everything about Paycor is praiseworthy. The software could undoubtedly improve on a few fronts. 

Opaque Pricing: Paycor’s pricing structure is arguably its biggest downside. The software has established plans and pricing tiers. However, you’ll need to pay a setup fee in addition to a monthly base fee and a per-employee fee. By comparison, Gusto and OnPay only charge the base and per-employee fees.

Paycor waives its setup fee at the time of this writing. But it’s hard to tell if this offer is permanent. Furthermore, Paycor charges miscellaneous fees for events like minimum billing fees, check copy, amended tax returns, checks cleared early, and wire fees. Some of these extra fees, such as rollback, are justifiable. However, read the fine print to precisely understand what these miscellaneous fees are. 

Expensive Tiers: Aside from the unclear pricing, Paycor can be costly for some users. For instance, its payroll-only tier is significantly more expensive than most competitors. So if you’re just looking for payroll features, Gusto and OnPay offer a cheaper alternative for the same features. 

Paycor Pricing and Options

An overview of Paycor pricing plan options, including HCM, Complete, Essential, and Basic plans

Again, Paycor combines payroll management with human capital management. So, you’ll see a combination of payroll and HCM features in each of its four pricing tiers. 

Paycor Basic 

Paycor’s Basic plan costs $99 per month plus $5 per employee per month. This plan comes with your basic but critical payroll features, including:

  • Unlimited payroll
  • Check stuffing
  • Federal & state tax filing 
  • Employee self-service 
  • Auto-run payroll

Additionally, you get HR & Compliance features like in-product compliance, document storage, and company news and news chat. You also get hiring tax credit integration, new hire self-service, and new hire reporting for onboarding. Finally, you get all of Paycor’s support options, including phone, email, chat, customer portal, and training hub. 

Paycor targets small businesses and startups with its basic plan. But, it’s a steep price for a small business that only needs basic payroll features. Gusto’s cheapest plan costs $39 per month plus $6 per month per user for a similar feature set. 

Paycor Essential 

The Essential plan costs $149 per month plus $6 per employee per month. You’ll be paying for additional features across the board. For example, the Essential plan includes PTO tracking and time-off requests not available with the Basic plan. 

Other additions in this tier include:

  • Workers comp standard report
  • HR checklists, training, templates, and tool kits
  • Employee handbook templates
  • New hire task lists 
  • New hire i-9 completion plus signature
  • Custom report writer 
  • Schedule reports

We start to see a difference with other run-of-the-mill payroll software. But, Paycor may still not be worth the cost in this tier. For example, OnPay charges a $36 monthly base fee plus $4 per person per month. This price gives you access to all of the software’s payroll features, including:

  • Custom time paid off policies
  • W-2 and 1099 workers
  • Automated onboarding flows 
  • Compliance audits 
  • HR resource library 

This is much more than you get with Paycor Essential. You still get very basic HR features with OnPay. These include OnPay’s built-in document templates and custom personnel checklists. These may not be the same as Paycor’s HR checklists and employee handbook templates. 

However, it’s worth asking yourself whether Paycor’s HR features in this tier are worth the $149 + $6 per employee per month that Paycor charges. 

Paycor Complete 

The Complete tier is Paycor’s most popular package. It costs $199 per month plus $7 per employee. In addition, you get even more payroll features in this tier, including GL reporting and integrations, payroll analytics, and 360/401K EDI integration. 

A comparison chart of the services offered with Paycor's Basic, Essential, and Complete plans

You also get one-on-one guidance from a certified HR professional in this tier. However, you immediately notice that the Paycor Complete tier is far from complete. You’re only getting a handful of additional features that you could probably do without compared to the Essential plan. 

Alternatively, you can upgrade to the highest tier. 

Paycor HCM

Finally, Paycor HCM is the company’s premium plan. It costs $199 per month plus $12 per employee per month. It’s hard to argue with this plan. It comes with some of the most comprehensive payroll + HCM features anywhere. 

These human capital management-specific features include:

  • Employee recognition
  • HR analytics
  • Employee directory and organizational chart
  • Automated workflows
  • Forms sharing with e-signature
  • Scheduled reminders 
  • Certificate management 
  • Benchmarking 
  • Diversity and inclusion metrics 
  • Performance reviews 
  • Best practice templates

It’s hard to compare Paycor with OnPay or Gusto in this tier. However, ADP Workforce offers very similar features. However, most of these features are add-ons, so Paycor’s pricing makes sense.  

Paycor offers numerous features across multiple verticals. Let’s take a detailed look at what Paycor has to offer. Remember, the feature combination you get depends on your plan. 

Paycor Payroll

Example of Paycor's payroll feature showing a list of employees and their departments, rates, and hours worked

Paycor offers decent payroll features. These include:

  • Unlimited payroll
  • Federal & State tax filing
  • Auto-run payroll
  • Garnishments
  • Check stuffing 
  • Direct deposit + pay cards 
  • Payroll analytics 
  • PTO tracking and time-off requests 
  • Paycor mobile app

There are certainly some noteworthy features here. It’s great that you can auto-run payroll with all plans, including the Basic plan. 

There’s also the on-demand pay feature which is very useful. You can pay employees as they earn rather than wait for the traditional weekly or monthly pay cycle. You also get this feature with the Basic plan. 

Still, Paycor lags when we consider the payroll-only features. For instance, Gusto has more advanced payroll features, including integrated pre-tax benefits, FICA Tip Credit for restaurants, Expense integration, and net-to-gross calculations.

Paycor only offers the bare minimum you need to run payroll efficiently. You might need to look elsewhere if you need more advanced features. 

Paycor HR & Compliance 

Integrating HR & Compliance isn’t unique to payroll. Many payroll services are combining these features. It makes sense since employees who have issues with their salary typically consult the HR department rather than finance. 

Some of the HR & Compliance features that Paycor has to offer include:

  • Document storage 
  • Custom fields 
  • HR templates, training, checklists, and toolkits 
  • HR analytics 
  • Employee handbook templates and review 
  • Employee recognition
  • Automated workflows 
  • Forms and document sharing 
  • E-signature 
  • Scheduled reminders 

Paycor also offers one-on-one guidance from certified HR pros with its premium HCM plan. There’s also a handy company news and chat feature to stay up-to-date with your service provider’s newest offerings. 

The service looks more attractive when you tack on the HR features. By comparison, ADP Workforce Now also offers basic HR features like employee hiring and terminating, a self-service portal, HR record keeping, and employee engagement surveys. But, we still have more Paycor features left to explore.

Paycor Onboarding 

It makes sense for payroll software to have an onboarding feature. This way, you bring new employees to the fold as soon as they sign their acceptance letter. As a result, there will be far less manual paperwork during the next pay cycle. 

Example of Paycor new hire setup showing an option to delegate I-9 verification

Paycor offers onboarding features in all tiers. The Basic plan limits these features to new hire self-service onboarding, hiring tax credit integration, and new hire reporting EVS. You can access all the onboarding features when you upgrade to the next tier, which includes:

  • E-verify 
  • New hire task lists
  • New hire document signature 
  • New hire I-9 completion

These are simple but handy features. However, they are pretty much standard for payroll software. For instance, close competitors like Gusto, OnPay, and Square offer employee onboarding. So there isn’t much to write home about here. 

Paycor Reporting & Analytics 

Example of Paycor Reporting and Analytics tools

Paycor doesn’t offer any reporting and analytics features with its basic plan. However, other alternatives like Square offer custom reporting with all plans. It would be nice to have at least simple reports with Paycor’s least expensive plan.

Still, Paycor reporting and analytics features include:

  • Standard reports library
  • Scheduled report 
  • Custom report writer
  • Benchmarking 
  • Diversity & inclusion metrics 
  • Pre-built dashboards

Paycor certainly has one of the most powerful reporting and analytics capabilities. You can easily convert complex data into predictions and trends. As a result, you can easily recognize patterns and identify anomalies that may impact your organization. 

Paycor Talent Management 

Comparison chart of Paycor plans showing the talent management features available for the HCM plan

Paycor has some handy talent management features. However, these are only available with the premium HCM plan. These features include:

  • Performance reviews
  • Surveys 
  • 360 feedback 
  • Best practice templates
  • Outlook and Gmail integrations
  • 9 box functionality

You could probably get most of these features with an alternative like ADP Workforce Now. ADP’s talent management features span headhunting, recruitment, training and development, engagement and productivity, and performance reviews. 

However, it’s hard to compare the actual cost since ADP doesn’t publicize its pricing. It’s worth sticking with Paycor in this case. 

Paycor Support 

Finally, Paycor offers exceptional support in all pricing tiers. This feature is helpful if you need help setting up or working with the software. Your support options include:

  • Phone
  • Chat
  • Email
  • Training hub 
  • Knowledge base articles 
  • Communication hub 

Paycor has an excellent support team. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and responsive. There are no complaints in this regard. Paycor offers all its support features with the Basic plan. 

How Paycor Ranks 

Again, Paycor didn’t make it to our top list of the best payroll software. Comparing Paycor with most other payroll management services is like comparing apples to oranges. Paycor far exceeds the core payroll offerings. Instead, it is an all-in-one human capital management solution and targets a particular audience. 

You can check out our list of the top payroll software. Our top contenders in this case include:

  1. Rippling – Best payroll software for most
  2. Gusto – Best for flexibility and ease of use 
  3. OnPay – Best for businesses with tipped employees
  4. ADP Workforce Now – Best for keeping teams of 50+ employees happy
  5. Square – Most affordable option for paying contractors & freelancers
  6. Poppins Payroll – Best worry-free solution for paying household employees 
  7. Patriot – Best for businesses with an in-house payroll expert 
  8. TimeTrex Community Edition – Best payroll software with a $0 price tag

Summary 

So is Paycor worth it? The correct answer is: it depends. 

There are better alternatives if you are looking for payroll-only features. Gusto is cheaper and offers more payroll features, including built-in time tracking. Gusto also sweetens the pot with basic but handy hiring and onboarding features such as offer letters and new hire checklists.  

However, Paycor is the go-to platform if you need an all-in-one human capital management (HCM) solution. The product successfully combines payroll, HR, onboarding, and employee management in a way that standalone payroll software can’t compete. This combination makes it perfect for startups, SMBs, and organizations that want to save on disparate software while combining multiple HCM functions. 


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