Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Best HR Software

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best HR software for most people is Gusto or BambooHR.

Managing your Human Resources department is a lot of work.

HR needs to look after scheduling, keep an eye on compliance, handle benefits, administer company policies, and keep employees happy.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Because of all these diverse responsibilities and needs, HR software keeps improving with more capabilities and better ways to streamline routine HR work.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to make a switch, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll help you find the best HR software for your business.

The 9 Best HR Software Options

After researching dozens of HR solutions on the market today, I’ve narrowed down the top seven that you should consider:

  1. Gusto – Best HR software for small business payroll.
  2. BambooHR – Best human resources management systems
  3. Sage Business Cloud People – Best for multinational organizations
  4. Zenefits – Best all-in-one human resources software
  5. Namely – Best HR software for mid-sized companies
  6. SAP SuccessFactors – Best HCM software suite
  7. People HR – Best for applicant tracking and recruitment
  8. Deputy – Best for never worrying about scheduling again
  9. Freshteam – Best talent management solution

Continue below to learn more about the features, benefits, prices, use cases, and potential drawbacks of each one on the list.

#1 – Gusto — Best HR Software For Small Business Payroll

  • Trusted by 100k+ businesses
  • Payroll and benefits
  • Manage compliance
  • Month-to-month pricing
Get started today

Gusto is best known for its online payroll services. But the platform also has additional HR features, making it perfect for startups and small businesses.

More than 100,000 small businesses trust Gusto for payroll and HR.

The platform is super easy to use. Business owners who are managing payroll and HR on their own without a dedicated department can still navigate through Gusto with ease.

Gusto automatically calculates and files local, state, and federal taxes. It seamlessly integrates with tools like Quickbooks, Xero, Clover, TSheets, and more.

Gusto allows you to also manage health insurance. There are more than 3,500 medical, dental, and vision plans available through Gusto’s licensed advisors. Other employee benefits options available on Gusto include 401(k) retirement, 529 savings, workers’ compensation, HSA, life and disability, commuter benefits, and more.

Use Gusto to manage compliance for things like HIPAA, COBA, Department of Labor, IRS, ACA, and ERISA.

Here’s a quick overview of Gusto pricing:

  • Core — $19 per month + $6 per person
  • Complete — $39 per month + $12 per person
  • Concierge — $149 per month + $12 per person

Gusto also has a free plan for businesses that haven’t hired W-2 employees. You can use Gusto to pay 1099 contractors for just $6 per month per person.

All Gusto pricing is month-to-month, so you can can cancel at any time without a long-term commitment. Get started here.

#2 – BambooHR — Best Human Resources Management System (HRMS)

  • For small and medium businesses
  • 1.56+ million active employees
  • Great mobile app
  • 7 day free trial
Get started for free

For businesses seeking a complete HRMS solution, BambooHR will be a top choice for you to consider.

This software is trusted by more than 17,000 companies and has 1.56+ million active employee users for very good reason.

BambooHR places a big emphasis on your employees. The software specializes in hiring, onboarding, compensation, and company culture.

Designed for small and medium businesses, the solution makes it easy for business owners and HR departments to collect, maintain, and analyze data about their employees. This information will ultimately help the way you hire new talent and create a culture that empowers your team.

They also offer an excellent user interface. That way even the newest employee can learn the ropes quickly.

Bamboo HR

Some of the top features offered by BambooHR software include:

  • Employee records
  • Benefit tracking
  • Time off management
  • Company calendar
  • Onboarding and offboarding
  • Applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Training
  • Company branding
  • Advanced HR reporting
  • Tailored workflows and approvals

BambooHR also has an exceptional mobile app that’s ideal for employees and HR administrators alike. You can purchase add-ons for things like performance management and time tracking.

Pricing for BambooHR is not available online. You’ll need to contact their sales team to get a quote.

Unfortunately, payroll isn’t available for this software. So you’ll need to run your payroll elsewhere. Check out our guide of the best online payroll services for some guidance in that department.

Try BambooHR free for seven days.

#3 – Sage Business Cloud People — Best For Multinational Organizations

  • Made for mid-sized businesses
  • Supports international employees
  • Local and national compliance
  • Easy to scale
Book a free demo

Sage offers a wide range of products for businesses from accounting tools to management and more.

The company’s Sage Business Cloud People is an ultra-specific HR solution. It’s designed for medium businesses with a global presence.

Sage makes it easy to manage HR for employees across the world. They help you create a single global policy for your entire organization while remaining compliant with all local and national regulations.

So it doesn’t matter if you have employees in Chicago and Singapore—Sage has your back.

The platform is ideal for businesses with 200 to 5,000 employees. Small businesses should look elsewhere for HR needs.

Sage is robust enough to scale with your medium-sized company as it grows. It has everything you need to attract, maintain, and manage your workforce at a global level.

Compared to other HR services on the market today, the setup for Sage Business Cloud People is a bit complex. They advertise as offering “rapid implementation,” but if you read the fine print, it says you can go live in as little as 90 days.

Three months is a long time to get set up. So if your HR needs are time-sensitive, this platform probably isn’t for you.

Pricing for Sage Business Cloud People is not available online. Contact their sales team to book a free demo.

#4 – Zenefits — Best All-In-One Human Resources Software

  • All-in-one HR solution
  • Starting at $8 per month
  • Free payroll for one year
  • 14 day free trial

>> Compare Quotes

Zenefits is trusted by 11,000+ businesses and used by more than 400,000 employees.

Where they really shine though is their all-in-one HR solutions. Zenefits provides features for compensation packages, employee onboarding, PTO management and requests, employee management, and more.

The provide built-in compliance features and safeguards to help you prevent accidental mistakes. The software automates the majority of compliance tasks and government filings as well.

With Zenefits, you’ll be able to increase employee productivity throughout your organization. Your staff can use Zenefits for things like self onboarding, choosing benefits, and signing documents.

Here’s a quick overview of the plans and pricing for Zenefits:

The rates are affordable. Also, depending on the size of your organization and the needs of your HR department, there’s a plan for everyone.

Payroll is not included in any of the base plans, but you can add it on for $6 per employee.

For a limited time, Zenefits is offering one free year of payroll to help small and midsize businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some restrictions; for example, you must sign up for an annual HR subscription plan.

Try Zenefits free for 14 days.

#5 – Namely — Best HR Software for Mid-Sized Companies

  • Made for mid-sized businesses
  • Easy to scale
  • Built-in payroll processing
  • Lots of integrations

>> Compare Quotes

Namely is another full-service HR solution that comes at a great price.

With 1,400+ businesses being served, Namely isn’t quite as popular as some of the other options on our list. Despite that, Namely’s HR solution has everything you need to manage a mid-sized HR department at scale.

With Namely, you’ll benefit from core features like:

  • Employee management
  • Onboarding
  • Talent management
  • Benefits administration
  • Payroll
  • HR compliance
  • Analytics
  • Recruiting
  • Time and attendance
  • Benchmarking

With all these tools, along their unique support contact for your company, they’re a perfect fit for mid-sized operations who have room to scale.

You’ll have access to live HR advisers, a learning management system, a living handbook, and OSHA logs to manage your HR compliance. Namely has enhanced services for things like benefits consulting as well.

The software is easy to use, and employees love it. Accessing pay stubs and requesting time off is just a few clicks away from the web portal or mobile app.

On average, HR departments save 11 hours per week by switching to Namely. Imagine how much more productive you could be with an extra 572 hours per year to spare.

Namely integrates with third-party tools for things like applicant tracking, e-sign, time and attendance systems, background checks, international payroll, and more. If you’re using already using a tool and can’t find it on the pre-built list of integrations, you can build your own through the secure Namely API.

Pricing for Namely HR is not available online. You’ll need to request a free demo and quote.

#6 – SAP SuccessFactors — Best HCM Software Suite

  • Ideal for SMEs
  • All-in-one product suite
  • HR analytics
  • Workforce management tools

>> Compare Quotes

SAP SuccessFactors specializes in HR software for human capital management (HCM). They put a unique twist on HCM and HRMS with the SAP SuccessFactors HXM suite.

If you’re not familiar with the acronym HXM, it’s probably because it isn’t an industry term. SAP coined the phrase “Human Experience Management” for this product suite.

This cloud-based human resources software is segmented into four different categories of products:

  • Employee experience management
  • Core HR and payroll
  • Talent Management
  • HR analytics and workforce management

They offer mostly everything your HR department could possibly need.

The platform is robust and feature-rich, but it’s likely overkill for most small businesses. I’d recommend SAP SuccessFactors to larger organizations and SMEs. A small and mid-sized enterprise would benefit more from some of the advanced features offered in this product suite, especially in terms of analytics and workforce management.

Pricing for SAP SuccessFactors is not available online. You’ll need to contact the customer service team via phone, email, or live chat to get more information.

#7 – People HR — Best For Applicant Tracking and Recruitment

  • Applicant tracking system
  • Starts at $5 per month
  • Secure top-level talent
  • Essential HR features

>> Compare Quotes

The People HR software is best known for its applicant tracking and talent recruitment features.

But they also offer some great HR essentials:

  • Automating repetitive HR tasks
  • Centralized employee information hub
  • Vacation planning and absence management
  • Timesheets and time recording
  • Expense reporting and approvals

Payroll is not built-in to People HR, but the software integrates with ADP, Sage Payroll, Ceridian, and Activpayroll.

The ATS (applicant tracking system) is the feature that really makes People HR shine. It allows you to easily attract, identify, and secure top-level talent. Publish open positions, screen for talent, manage your shortlist, and send an offer directly through the platform.

Here’s a quick overview of the plans and price points for People HR:

  • Team — $5 per employee per month
  • Professional — $6 per employee per month
  • Enterprise — $8 per employee per month
  • Elite — $10 per employee per month

As you can see, the rates are extremely affordable, even for smaller organizations. Although it’s worth noting that the recruitment and applicant tracking features aren’t available in the Team or Professional plans. You’ll need to upgrade to Enterprise or Elite to access those features.

Try it for free; no credit card required.

#8 – Deputy — Best for Never Worrying About Scheduling Again

  • Streamline setting shifts...
  • ...and time tracking, too
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Integrates w/ major payroll software
Try it for free

For companies with shift workers, scheduling and time tracking often falls on the human resource department’s plate. The larger the office or organization, the more that routine work drags on you—you know you could be improving other areas of HR if you didn’t have to set and check schedules all the time.

That’s where Deputy comes in.

A healthy workplace requires an HR professional to be available to improve employee happiness, whether that’s through administrating policies and benefits or being open to meetings with workers.

If you could streamline the grind of setting schedules and tracking hours, then you gain that greater availability while removing a constant stressor from your work life.

Deputy’s smart software and intuitive dashboard makes scheduling a breeze. Set the week’s shifts in minutes and share it with everyone instantly once it’s in place. The platform draws from important information about team members—such as training level, availability, pay rate, role, and location—to intelligently whip together a schedule that works for everyone.

Plus, employees can swap or cover shifts right in the platform, removing the need for panicked calls if someone calls in sick or no-shows.

Deputy also can cover clocking in and out at your offices or work sites. That way, time tracking is a cinch and accuracy is never an issue. Simply review timesheets and then approve and export with two clicks.

With Deputy you get an excellent solution for scheduling and time tracking—one that reduces headaches for you all around—but what about covering other aspects of HR?

While the software itself doesn’t handle payroll, benefits administration, or hiring and firing, it integrates well with a couple other software solutions you may already be using or looking to use.

Deputy syncs with BambooHR (which you’ll see is one of our other top picks in this list of reviews) to handle to wider needs of HR, as well as all the big names in payroll software, including ADP, Gusto, OnPay and Paychex.

Pricing for Deputy is fittingly affordable for its laser focus on scheduling and time tracking. You can get a plan that only provides scheduling or time and attendance for $2.50/user per month. Or, get them both, plus advanced reporting features, for $4.50/user per month.

Head on over to Deputy’s website to start a free trial and reap the benefits of reducing your recurring scheduling tasks.

#9 – Freshteam — Best Solution for Hiring and Talent Management

  • End-to-end recruiting tool
  • Full of powerful features
  • Wildly customizable
  • Find and attract the best talent
Get started for free

Your company can only be as good as the people it hires. HR managers are in a unique position of making sure the current staff is happy while also having to identify and court talented individuals who would be an asset to the team.

Freshteam, from the folks at Freshworks, is an end-to-end HR software solution that is particularly adept at assisting with recruitment, hiring, and onboarding.

It starts with Freshteam’s Recruitment Management System, which will both streamline and bolster your job posting process. You get incredible customization in how you list openings at your company, including the ability to tailor every interviewing and hiring process to specifics of your available positions.

Plus, it allows you to create questionnaires within each job posted that are also tailored to gathering the information you need to determine an applicant’s fit with the position.

If you’re noticing a pattern, you’re not wrong—Freshteam is all about customization of hiring workflows. Everything from how you post openings and applications to how you set interview stages and extend offers is flexible so you can bend it to do what you need to it do.

There are more intricate features in just Freshteam’s hiring tools than we have space to include, but some other key elements include:

  • Recruit via social media, email, and major job boards
  • Build a new, elegant, mobile-friendly careers page or site
  • Custom tracking links for web and email applicants
  • Employee referrals
  • Talent pool for applicants who are appealing but not yet a fit for an open position
  • Customize, manage, and send offer letters from within Freshteam

But the software hardly stops there. In fact, that’s just a sliver of its feature set.

After hiring, Freshteam will help similarly with onboarding and training, allowing you to easily send documentation and manuals, collect signatures on hiring forms, and loop in supervisors, trainers, and other stakeholders on new hire status.

Plus, you get many other tools essential for running HR, including time off management, a database for employee information and organization detail, detailed and wide-reaching reporting, and a mobile app for handling everything above while you’re on the go.

Freshteam even offers a free version of the platform, good for up to 50 employees, up to three job postings, and the basic features you need for hiring and onboarding.

But I recommend starting with at least the lowest pricing tier for getting all the good stuff to improve your ability to attract, onboard, and retain talent:

  • Blossom: $50/month per 50 users when paying annually ($75/month for month-to-month billing)
  • Garden: $100/month per 50 users ($150 for month-to-month)
  • Estate: $200/month per 50 users ($250 for month-to-month)

Check out Freshteam’s pricing info for greater detail about the features in each package. Then, get started on the free plan to test drive it out.

See how much Freshteam can help your hiring and onboarding today.

What is HR software?

Human resources software helps businesses of all sizes manage various aspects of HR processes such as:

  • Hiring
  • Employee onboarding
  • Training
  • Payroll
  • Benefits

And much more. HR software makes everything easier for your HR staff and employees alike by giving you the tools you need.

Without HR software, organizations face a bottleneck in the HR department. The only way for employees to access information is by calling HR, sending an email, or physically visiting the HR office.

These scenarios aren’t realistic for the modern workforce, especially with so many people working remotely or in the field.

How to Find the Best HR Software For Your Business

With so many HR solutions on the market today, finding the best option for your business can feel like a daunting task.

Fortunately, I’ll explain what factors and elements you need to take into consideration as you’re evaluating prospective solutions. This is the methodology that we used to pick the winners on our list.

Business Size

The first way to narrow your options down is by the number of employees you have. Startups and small businesses with 20 employees won’t have the same needs as a company with 200 or 2,000 employees.

Startups and small businesses should look to solutions like Zenefits or Gusto. Namely and SAP SuccessFactors are better for medium businesses.

It’s important to make sure that your HR software can scale with you as your company grows.

HR Needs

What exactly do you need HR software for?

My needs might not be the same as yours. Not all software provides every single HR capability. So you need to identify the main reason why you’re seeking HR software.

For example, you won’t find payroll on the feature list for the majority of software on our list. In most cases, you’ll have to pay extra to get payroll on the few platforms that do offer it.

Other solutions address specific needs, like human capital management (HCM), applicant tracking systems (ATS), and human resources management system (HRMS). Some providers address ultra-specific needs, such as HR software for managing international employees.

Additional Features

In addition to your core needs, you should look to see what other additional features are offered by the software you’re evaluating.

Mobile apps and employee self-service tools are nice to have. Time tracking, time-off management, onboarding tools, and dozens of other features won’t necessarily fall into the “core HR” feature list. But they’re still great to have if you’re trying to optimize your HR department.

Just don’t let a long list of additional features distract from your primary HR needs.


Most HR software is billed on a monthly basis per employee. These rates can start as low as $5 per employee per month.

Some platforms charge a base rate for your core plan, and then charge a per employee rate on top of it. Other software has different per employee rates based on the features available in the plan you select.

Not every HR solution has transparent pricing available online. In some cases, you’ll have to contact the sales team to request a quote and demo. Always test out the software with a free trial when its available before you commit to anything long term.


What’s the best HR software on the market today? Generally speaking, there is no “best for everyone” solution.

If your priority is small business payroll, choose Gusto. For a complete HRMS, try BambooHR or Zenefits.  Mid-sized organizations should learn towards solutions like Namely. Freshteam and People HR are our top recommendations for applicant tracking and recruitment.

Need to improve and streamline your staff scheduling? Look no further than Deputy.

Check out SAP SuccessFactors for an HCM product suite. For mid-sized organizations with international employees, we recommend Sage Business Cloud People.

Regardless of your business size, industry, or HR needs, you can find what you’re looking for using this guide.

from Quick Sprout