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:
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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 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, 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.
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.
- 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
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.
HR software for small business: Summary of options
Updated Jan. 2, 2018.
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