Best HR software of 2023
Gusto is the best human resources (HR) solution based on our testing. See our picks for the best HR software.
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.
Digital.com tests providers to offer trusted and reliable recommendations for the best business tools. See how we rate HR software.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
BambooHR does not share its pricing information publicly and operates on a quote-based model.
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:
Namely does not share its pricing information publicly and operates on a quote-based model.
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:
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.