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Human resources (HR) software systems handle most — if not all — of the essential people management tasks to help your business thrive. We tested leading HR software solutions based on price, features, and performance to recommend the best HR software for your business.
The Best HR Software: Our Top Pick
We chose Gusto as the best HR software for its strong payroll features, reporting, and automations, unlimited monthly payrolls for users in all 50 states, and robust third-party integrations.
Digital.com dives deep into every topic it covers to offer trusted and reliable recommendations for the best business tools. See how we review HR software.
Tips From an Expert
Match HR software to the needs of your employees.
HR solutions help you manage your most important assets: your employees. Before choosing an HR product, evaluate the best HR solutions on the market to make sure you’re investing in the right product for the unique needs of both your business and employees.
The Top HR Software of 2023
#1 Top Pick for 2023
With its affordable pricing plans, strong payroll features, and highly customizable platform, Gusto tops our list of HR software solutions.
$40 + $6/employee
Employee database, payroll & performance management, applicant tracking
With its affordable pricing plans, strong payroll features, and highly customizable platform, Gusto tops our list of HR software solutions. From its unlimited payrolls each month to core HR features, Gusto is a great all-around platform for small to midsize businesses that need an affordable, easy-to-use HR solution that packs a punch.
I selected Gusto as the best overall HR solution due to its highly-intuitive platform with an easy yet thorough set up process, a great range of core HR features, and an excellent full-service payroll tool.
From the get-go, Gusto’s set-up process is exhaustively thorough, intended to help you customize the interface and get the most out of the platform according to your business needs. You’ll be asked to provide comprehensive company details, pay schedule information, state tax details, workers’ compensation information, and more. During our review, I set up and used the platform in under an hour.
The platform’s most impressive offering is its payroll function. Aside from allowing you to run an unlimited number of payrolls per month, it’s also incredibly easy to automate deductions, tax filings, and direct deposits. You can also establish different pay schedules and easily make use of editable fields to add bonuses, commissions, or reimbursements. Unlike many of its competitors, Gusto calculates, files, and pays federal, state, and local taxes.
On top of its robust payroll functionality, Gusto’s benefits administration feature stood out during testing. Gusto excels at creating custom benefit packages that adhere to legal requirements, and even presents you with the best package options based on your employee and company information at no extra cost.
- Who is Gusto best for?
I found that Gusto is a great all-around platform for small to midsize businesses that need an affordable, easy-to-use HR solution.
- Recent upgrades to Gusto
Recognizing the shift in the labor market, Gusto recently bought Remote Teams, a start-up that enables growing businesses to hire remote workers internationally. Additionally, Gusto now supports the payment of contractors in 80 countries and quick tax registration in all 50 states.
In the same vein, Gusto recently launched the Gusto Economic Trends Tracker. This interactive dashboard enables you to see the latest trends in employment, wages, and hours worked across small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. to help business leaders make better business decisions.
- Gusto pricing
Unlike many well-known HR software solution providers, Gusto publishes detailed information about its pricing tiers on its website. While it’s not the cheapest solution on the block, Gusto provides many core HR functions, including an employee database, payroll processing, and benefits administration for a reasonable price, as well as a contractor-only option coming in at $6 per contractor, per month.
Reasons to choose Gusto
- Automatic pay runs and tax filing
- Unlimited pay runs per month
- Great employee benefits management
- Offers two-, four- and next-day deposits
Reasons to avoid
- Health insurance plans in 39 states
- Not as customizable as others
- Unresponsive customer support
- Per-employee pricing can get expensive
What Customers Are Saying About GustoGusto is a great payroll solution for small businesses that want to comply with complex wage laws and automate many HR tasks. Their onboarding process is simple, and their reporting is top-notch. It is perfect for smaller businesses that want to process payroll quickly and affordably. However, the price jumps significantly for the time clock feature, and it can be challenging to get clients to use it. The main downside is the customer service which can be challenging to reach and slow.
- Intuitive interface
- 75 pre-built reports & dashboards
- Customizable performance management
Employee database & performance management. More features on higher tiers
Zoho People is less well-known than its counterparts—but I can’t understand why. The platform is suitable for businesses of all sizes due to its affordable pricing structure.
Despite being one of the lesser-known HR tools, Zoho People is a very strong contender within the crowded HR software solution market. I’ve selected Zoho People as the most affordable solution for small businesses, but the platform also packs a punch in terms of its feature set.
Zoho People provides tools to manage many core HR processes, beginning with employee onboarding, training, and performance management through to time and attendance tracking, shift scheduling, and performance management.
The platform’s library of over 75 pre-built reports and dashboards is a game-changer for small businesses who really want to drill down into their people data and make meaningful changes and improvements.
The customizable performance management module is a surprisingly impressive feature for such an affordable tool. You can give five different types of feedback — including positive, negative, training, observation, and rewards — to your peers, direct reports, and your manager.
Zoho People is very easy to navigate and customize to suit your business needs. Using the free trial that’s available, you can easily get to know the platform before you take the plunge. Finally, Zoho People offers basic email and telephone support to all customers with a guaranteed 24-hour response time, which is essential for growing businesses.
- Who is Zoho People best for?
My testing showed that Zoho People is a great fit for smaller businesses that want to begin to transition the management of their employees to HR software at a low cost.
- Recent upgrades to Zoho People
Zoho People’s AI-powered virtual support assistant is a great feature for better self-service when you need instant product support. It also empowers your employees to perform HR tasks, answer common questions, and automate routine tasks. Recognizing the shift to remote working practices, Zoho People Kiosk also facilitates employee check-in via a facial tool.
- Zoho People pricing
Zoho People’s pricing begins with a free plan for less than five users and gradually increases to $10 per month as you opt for plans with more features. This is significantly cheaper than Gusto so Zoho People may work better for recent startups with five employees or fewer.
Reasons to choose Zoho People
- Fully integrated and customizable
- Tons of reports and dashboards
- Virtual support assistant
- Simple, yet robust platform
Reasons to avoid
- No built-in payroll module
- Employee profiles cost extra
- Slow customer support
- Limited integration options
What Customers Are Saying About Zoho PeopleCompanies looking to simplify their human resources operations can benefit by using Zoho People. It offers a number of features and customizes easily to meet the HR needs of most small businesses. Although easy to use, some glitches, especially with the mobile app, have been noted.
- Strong benefits management
- Great user experience
- Robust core HR functionality
Employee database, payroll & performance management. Plus modular add-ons.
Offering an enjoyable user experience and robust functionality as an all-in-one HRIS tool, Zenefits is a great HR solution for medium-sized businesses. Be mindful that Zenefits’ add-ons— including its payroll module —come at an extra cost on top of the original subscription price, though.
Zenefits is an HRIS solution designed for small to medium-sized businesses that provides core HR features like core employee management, employee onboarding, benefits administration, payroll, time and attendance tracking, and performance management.
I’ve chosen Zenefits as the most robust HRIS solution due to its solid and comprehensive feature offering, although some core HR features are only available as “add-ons” and come at an additional cost.
While the product is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses, I found that it might be too feature-heavy for very small businesses.
Zenefits’ interface is sleek and easy to use, and all operations modules can be found below the task and news feed on the main dashboard. For both employees and administrators, the system is simple to navigate, which is often hard to find with products as feature-rich as Zenefits.
Zenefits’ payroll tool, although an add-on service, is highly functional. It supports direct deposits, unlimited payroll runs, multiple schedules and pay rates, and contractor payments. Running payroll can be done in a few clicks, and the Payroll Timeline that displays recent payroll-related tasks is handy for a quick overview.
- Who is Zenefits best for?
I found that Zenefits is a great choice for medium-sized businesses that are looking to replace legacy systems or simply modernize their HR operations. Smaller businesses that are looking for an HR system with a built-in payroll module, however, could look to a less feature-heavy, stand-alone payroll solution.
- Recent upgrades to Zenefits
Zenefits was acquired by TriNet, a provider of HR solutions, in early 2022. Despite searching, I was unable to find any resources relating to Zenefits’ product upgrades or updates.
- Zenefits pricing
For such a robust solution, Zenefits offers several reasonably-priced tiers. The Essentials plan costs $8 per employee/month and includes automated onboarding, employee management, time-off tracking, and scheduling. The Growth plan costs $14 per employee/month and includes all Essentials plan features plus compensation and performance management. And the Zen plan comes in at $21 per employee/month and includes all Growth plan features plus employee engagement surveys and a “people hub.”
Reasons to choose Zenefits
- All-in-one HRIS tool
- Deep benefits administration
- Holistic employee database & records
- Easy-to-use and thorough payroll
Reasons to avoid
- Lackluster customer service
- Not suitable for very small businesses
- Payroll costs extra
- Reporting is lacking
What Customers Are Saying About ZenefitsSmall businesses that need help with human resources (HR) will find Zenefits to be relatively simple to use. It offers several payroll and benefits features in a user-friendly platform. However, there are issues related to its customer service offerings.
- Simple, clean, and easy-to-navigate
- Good roster of customizable reports
- Strong workforce management
Employee database, performance management, and applicant tracking.
BambooHR is a well-known HR solution aimed at small and medium-sized businesses to help them manage their core HR processes. While the platform is packed with excellent features, its lack of transparent pricing options is disappointing for such a popular HR solution.
BambooHR is a well-known and popular HR solution designed with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. The product revolves around five central pillars of HR management: data and analytics, hiring, onboarding, compensation, and culture. I’ve selected BambooHR as the most customizable HR solution due to its long list of add-ons, customizable reports, and open API.
BambooHR’s centralized database enables you to manage employee data efficiently by combining personal information and time off requests, vacation and sick leave information, benefits, and training details in one place. I also found BambooHR’s employee reports on PTO usage, employee satisfaction, and employee well-being to complement the thorough employee profiles.
I was impressed with BambooHR’s hiring module. You can easily access a quick view of all job openings, hiring leads, the length of time the position has been open, and how many applications have been received. I also found it easy to create a new job listing using drop-down menu options and a built-in text editor.
BambooHR’s employee engagement feature stands out against competitor solutions. With Net Promoter Scores and easy access to employee survey responses, the tool is great for businesses that want to measure staff engagement and satisfaction, tackle any workplace issues, and reduce employee turnover.
- Who is BambooHR best for?
I found that BambooHR is a feature-packed tool for small and medium-sized businesses that want to modernize their HR processes. Given its range of integration options and open API, it’s also a great fit for businesses that are already using other HR tools to manage their employees and want to bolster their HR tech stack.
- Recent upgrades to BambooHR
BambooHR recently announced the following product upgrades to help you better manage your workforce:
- Improvements to its candidate sources report that provides you with better knowledge of your recruiting sources
- Advances in filtering options for your employee lists to enable you to access better people insights
- A Missing State Tax Info add-on to aid better management of remote employees
- BambooHR pricing
BambooHR does not share its pricing information publicly and operates on a quote-based model.
Reasons to choose BambooHR
- Highly customizable modules
- Strong employee management
- Great roster of customizable reports
- Open API allows you to track and share data across systems
Reasons to avoid
- Lack of transparent pricing
- No payroll module
- Basic recruitment features
- Phone support only available on top tier
What Customers Are Saying About BambooHRBamboo is easy to use, has great customer support, and is very versatile. However, it is not very robust and has limited reporting capabilities.
- Good range of core HR features
- Intuitive self-service employee portal
- Easy-to-use, social media-style interface
Employee database, payroll management, performance management.
Namely offers a good range of core HR features, and modern teams will love its social media-style UI. Yet since Namely doesn’t make its pricing information public, it’s hard to gauge the value it can provide smaller businesses.
Namely is an easy-to-use HR tool with a unique social-media style interface that offers a full suite of core HR features. The platform’s modern interface and high level of configuration give you almost full control over how you want the system to work. But setting up the platform and onboarding can therefore take a lot longer than many other plug-and-play HR solutions.
Despite this, Namely offers almost a full spectrum of features for medium-sized businesses with over 50 employees. Payroll, onboarding, recruiting, compliance, benefits administration, and time and attendance are offered within one package, with managed payroll and benefits offered in a separate package.
I put Namely’s strong onboarding function to the test with its templates for different types of employees, including full-time, international, and contractors. The platform’s e-signature tool helps you provide a seamless onboarding experience, while its compliance tool ensures that all new hire forms are stored securely with its delivered integration to E-Verify.
I was impressed with Namely’s open enrollment dashboard, a feature we haven’t come across in other HR solutions’ benefits administration modules. From the platform’s plan setup assistant and paperless benefits enrollment “wizard” to its visual enrollment status and timeline, the process is well-handled and intuitive.
I also rated Namely’s robust compliance solution that helps you handle risk mitigation. It has updates and resources on current and pending employment regulations. Also, you can use over 300 detailed trainings and gain unlimited access to certified HR advisors that can help you with any compliance issues you come up against.
- Who is Namely best for?
Since Namely does not provide public pricing information, it’s difficult to gauge how suitable the product is for smaller businesses. Given its wide range of core HR features, however, we believe that the platform is more geared toward businesses with at least 50 employees.
- Recent upgrades to Namely
While Namely’s product update page seems to be updated infrequently, it does list the following upgrades from 2018 and 2019:
- Pay equity benchmarking: Namely added pay equity reports its selection of Human Capital Management (HCM) Benchmarking reports, including pay breakdowns by job level, department, and tenure — plus industry benchmarks.
- Extended electronic signature functionality across the entire platform: This enables HR teams to streamline paperwork throughout the employee lifecycle by giving employees the ability to digitally sign almost any type of document with ease.
- Namely pricing
Namely does not share its pricing information publicly and operates on a quote-based model.
Reasons to choose Namely
- Excellent UI
- Highly customizable solution
- Open API for seamless integration
Reasons to avoid
- Lack of transparent pricing
- No payroll module
- Not suitable for smaller businesses
- Long system setup
What Customers Are Saying About NamelyNamely is a great HR system that saves time and makes it easy to keep track of employee information. The only downside is that it can be difficult to learn the ins and outs of the system, but this is manageable with a little patience.
- Easy implementation
- Great workflow automation
- Only pay for the modules you need
Employee database, performance management, and applicant tracking
Sage HR operates on a modular basis. You only pay for the modules you need. While its recruiting features stand out, the platform’s lack of a native payroll module and built-in templates and workflows is unusual for what’s marketed as an HR tool.
Sage HR is a people management solution that offers several core HR modules. During testing, I found Sage HR to be fast and easy to set up—that’s why I selected it as the easiest HR solution to implement.
From the outset, it’s clear to see that Sage HR isn’t as robust as some of its competitors. Zenefits and Zoho People, for example, offer fully-fledged HRIS systems with deep functionality. Sage HR’s platform, while modern and intuitive to use, offers basic functionality.
What I liked about Sage HR was its high level of customization options. All modules are highly customizable according to your company policies, and setting up automated workflows comes easier than with some of the platform’s competitors.
Time off policies are easy to create, and it’s also simple to set accrual rules according to the type of time off an employee takes. You can also select time-off eligibility for certain employees and create workflows that include automatic approvals and the duplication of requests under another policy.
In addition, you can customize your candidate pipeline with a drag-and-drop tool, and create customizable scorecards to evaluate your candidates.
I also liked the platform’s “recipes” feature that enables you to create custom workflows that are triggered after specific actions occur. For example, you can schedule a welcome back message to be sent once an employee returns from vacation. However, most recipes are limited to message sending rather than performing important tasks.
- Who is Sage HR best for?
Sage HR is a great tool for businesses primarily interested in a tool for leave management, hiring and recruiting. Since the payroll, benefits administration, and timesheet modules come at an extra cost, we wouldn’t recommend Sage HR to businesses that are looking for an all-in-one package.
- Recent upgrades to Sage HR
Sage HR has a comprehensive product update page and has recently listed the following upgrades:
- Improved e-signature capabilities including the ability for employees to upload an image of their signature from their computer
- The ability to set up and assign employees working patterns and use them to differentiate full-time employees from other types without the Timesheets module
- Testing for a new tool that uses AI and machine learning to forecast absences
- Sage HR pricing
Pricing operates on a per-module basis and is calculated based on how many employees you have. You must purchase the core HR and leave management package as standard, and then choose to add modules to your overall package. Sage HR’s pricing is higher than Zoho People or Freshteam, but is a good platform for growing businesses that need help with recruiting, hiring, and managing employee’s time off.
Reasons to choose Sage HR
- Simple UI
- High level of workflow automation
- Job postings and performance management
Reasons to avoid
- No payroll module
- No benefits administration feature
- Lack of third-party integrations
- Lack of built-in templates and workflows
What Customers Are Saying About Sage HRSage HR is a user-friendly, modular, customizable platform perfect for small businesses. It is easy to use and helps simplify HR activities. It is also cloud-based and scalable, and you can access it from anywhere. However, it is not suited for companies with more than 50 employees.
Compare HR Software Providers
What You Need to Know
What is HR software?
HR software is a digital solution for managing and optimizing the daily human resources tasks and overall HR goals of an organization. HR software allows HR staff and managers to better allocate their time and resources to more productive, profitable efforts.
Why is having an HR solution important?
HR solutions support your company’s internal processes. By using a set of time-saving tools and automation, the company improves its internal workflow. You retain more control with this option. As you take a more active role, HR solutions are a more cost-effective option.
What are the benefits of HR software?
- It’ll improve the efficiency of your HR team.
- It’ll improve your digital employee experience.
- It’ll save you money – or enable you to redeploy staff on other projects.
- It’ll help you make better decisions.
- It’ll improve your regulatory compliance.
What are the three types of HR software solutions?
The three major types of HR software are:
- Human Resource Information System (HRIS) This system is probably the most popular of the three, with its main focus on employee data organization.
- Human Capital Management (HCM)
- Human Resource Management System (HRMS)
What should a good HR system include?
A truly effective HR system should cover each stage of the employee lifecycle: from attracting candidates and putting them through the recruitment process, to offers and onboarding, performance and development and through to offboarding.
How We Review HR Software
I tested each HR software solution by signing up and purchasing a plan to check out what each provider offers you. I also spent time navigating the software, testing features, and evaluating integration options. On top of this, I noted the level of customer support available.
I evaluated each platform’s core features and how well they serve the intended audience and took note of any unique features, assessed pricing options, and ascertained whether a free trial or demo is available. I took an in-depth look at each HR solution as a whole and evaluated them based on:
- Management features: core HR features such as employee management tools, time and leave tracking, onboarding, and compensation and benefits management; payroll management; employee database; and performance management
- Third-party Integrations: Does the solution support third-party integrations for other software solutions you already use?
- Ease of use: How easy is the software solution to use, focusing on its: interface, navigation, customer support, and how seamless processes within the platform can be performed.
- Trial options: By accessing demos and free trials, you can get a true feel of how suitable the solution is for your needs, and how well it can scale.
- Costs and ease of cancellation: When selecting HR software, you’ll need to keep your growth goals in mind and consider whether your chosen platform can scale with you at a cost that you can afford.
Learn more about our review methodology.