Best HR Software for Your Business in 2017

Running Your Business, Small Business
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Human resources software can save your company a lot of time and money.

As your small business grows, completing administrative tasks — such as onboarding employees, charting career paths, managing health and retirement plans and processing payroll — become more time-consuming. In fact, human resources work takes up 25% to 35% of a business owner’s time, according to a 2014 study by SCORE, a nonprofit association that offers free counseling to small businesses.

Sixty-nine percent of surveyed businesses said that executing HR processes smoothly and efficiently is their greatest challenge, according to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management.

The right HR software can help you run your business more effectively by streamlining time-intensive tasks, cutting back on paperwork and helping you become better organized. Here are some popular human resources software options:

Jump to options

HR software for small business: Summary of options

 

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  • Price: $7 per employee per month, with a minimum monthly cost of $99 (excludes payroll)
  • Features snapshot: Track employee data — such as training, benefits and time-off requests — and access company forms, documents and performance reviews online
Get started at BambooHR

 

BambooHR offers a 100% web-based human resources system for small and midsize businesses. The software lets you track training, benefits and time-off requests and store information and forms. You can keep employee data — such as job and salary history — in an online directory and store company forms, applications, documents and performance reviews online.

Recently, the company announced the release of a new payroll service that integrates with its BambooHR software.

The cost of BambooHR depends on the number of employees you have. You can try it free for seven days before signing up. The service costs $7 per employee per month, with a minimum monthly cost of $99. The price can go lower than $7 per employee depending on how big the company is, according to Daniel Dean, product marketing manager at BambooHR.

Its payroll software starts at $25 per month, plus $4 per employee per month.
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goco_logo_color
  • Price: Free
  • Features snapshot: Employee hiring and services for onboarding, payroll and benefits management, integration with Slack and WhenIWork, and access to a local benefit advisor
Get started at GoCo

GoCo provides an all-in-one online HR, benefits and payroll platform, which is best suited for small to medium-sized small businesses in all industries.

GoCo’s key features include:

  • Automated employee hiring and onboarding
  • Online employee-benefit management (health, dental and 401(k) plans)
  • Integration and syncing with existing payroll providers or setting up a new payroll system
  • Integration with Slack (team messaging) and WhenIWork (employee scheduling)
  • Digital storage of tax and employment compliance documents

Every small business that signs up with GoCo can get support from a digital benefits advisor, as well as a local benefits advisor who is available to meet in person to answer questions.

“We’re able to put benefit advisors face-to-face with customers just about anywhere,” says Nir Leibovich, founder and CEO of GoCo.

GoCo is free regardless of the size of your business. The company earns commissions from insurance carriers on its platform.
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gusto-logo
  • Price: $39 per month, plus $6 per month for each employee
  • Features snapshot: Paperless employee onboarding, time-off tracking and the option of offering health benefits and 401(k) plans through Gusto
Get started at Gusto

Gusto, formerly known as ZenPayroll, offers human resources, payroll and benefits management tools to more than 40,000 U.S. businesses.

Its HR software features include:

  • Paperless employee onboarding and time-off tracking
  • Access to all employee records in one place
  • Automatic tax filing and processing for local, state and federal payroll taxes
  • The ability to pay employees via direct deposit or check
  • The option of offering health benefits and 401(k) retirement plans through Gusto

The company serves businesses that have one to 100 employees, including dentist offices, law firms, gyms, coffee shops and startups, says Steffi Wu, who handles communications at Gusto.

The Gusto software integrates with Capital One Spark Business bank accounts; accounting software applications such as FreshBooks, Xero and Intuit QuickBooks; time-tracking software such as WhenIWork; and expense-management software Receipt Bank.

The cost to use Gusto, with everything included, is $39 per month, plus $6 per month for each employee. For example, a small business with 10 employees would pay $99 per month, but you can try it for free for the first month and cancel at any time.

Gusto’s payroll and HR services, 401(k) plans and workers’ compensation insurance are offered nationwide. However, its health benefit services are available in only 10 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

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  • Price: $15 to $30 per employee per month, plus a one-time setup fee of $50 to $80 per employee
  • Features snapshot: Payroll and benefits management, paperless onboarding of new employees and the ability to create custom surveys and get ongoing feedback from employees
Get started at Namely

Namely is an all-in-one human resources, payroll and benefits software platform focused on midsize organizations in several sectors, including tech, media, e-commerce and nonprofits. The company, which supports small businesses with 50 or more employees, serves more than 600 clients with more than 120,000 employees on its platform, says Amy Rosenberg, community marketing manager at Namely.

Besides managing payroll and benefits, Namely offers:

  • Paperless onboarding of new employees
  • Employee management software with performance reviews
  • The ability to create custom surveys and get ongoing feedback from employees
  • A social news feed to keep your company connected on big news, milestones, anniversaries and birthdays
  • An online marketplace for employees to shop for benefits
  • Time management features

Namely’s technology helps business owners with Affordable Care Act reporting and in satisfying complex payroll and benefits requirements, says Matt Straz, founder and CEO.

Namely aims to handle payroll, benefits and employee management in an “intuitive” way that will encourage employees to use it daily, he says. Bringing these human resources management functions under a single umbrella helps clients save money, the company says.

Namely costs between $15 and $30 per employee per month; the company charges a one-time setup fee of $50 to $80 per employee. The monthly per-employee pricing depends on the features and services being used by the small business, as well as the company’s needs and requirements, Rosenberg says.

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zenefits-logo-1
  • Price: Free for basic plan without payroll service
  • Features snapshot: Online dashboard for tasks such as payroll and taxes, hiring and onboarding of employees, retirement plans and stock options, managing benefits and insurance, tracking attendance and vacations; and integration with popular third-party apps
Get started at Zenefits

Zenefits is a big player in the online HR space, but the company has faced scrutiny over its licensing practices. In November 2016, it agreed to pay a $7 million fine to the state of California after being charged with allowing unlicensed employees to sell insurance.

Zenefits offers an online dashboard that allows business owners to manage all of their HR needs in one place, including payroll and taxes, retirement plans and stock options. It also helps with onboarding new employees, managing benefits and insurance, and tracking attendance and vacations.

The system is completely automated, eliminating paperwork. The company’s basic plan is free, and it includes employee management (hiring, onboarding and basic reporting) and benefits administration (medical, dental, vision and insurance). Zenefits gets paid by benefits providers on the platform when you sign up.

Zenefits’ gold package — which includes advanced onboarding features, compliance assistance, payroll and other features — costs $8 per employee per month. Its platinum offering comes with access to a certified HR specialist and costs $12 per employee per month.

The platform is also useful for employees: They can use the online dashboard to view and sign job-offer letters, access pay stubs, review and enroll in health plans and request vacation.

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HR software for small business: Summary of options

HR SoftwareFeaturesPrice
logolargegreen
  • Track employee data, including training, benefits and time-off requests
  • Online directory to store employee information
$7 per employee per month, with a minimum monthly cost of $99 (excludes payroll)
goco_logo_color
  • Employee hiring and onboarding
  • Payroll and benefits management
  • Access to local benefit advisor
Free
gusto-logo_full-berry
  • Paperless employee onboarding and time-off tracking
  • Option to offer health benefits and 401(k) plans through the platform

$39 per month, plus $6 per month for each employee
namely_presskit_logo
  • Payroll and benefits management
  • Paperless employee onboarding
  • Ability to create surveys and get feedback from employees
$15 to $30 per employee per month, plus a onetime setup fee of $50 to $80 per employee
zenefits-logo-1
  • Manage payroll, taxes, hiring and onboarding of employees
  • Integrates with third-party apps such as Slack, Asana and Salesforce
Free for basic plan (and $8 per employee per month for payroll and other features)

Updated July 26, 2017.

Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Steven.N@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.

To get more information on and compare funding options for your small business, visit NerdWallet’s small-business loans page.

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