An HR Information/Management System (HRIS/HRMS) is software that manages people data across the employee lifecycle—from recruitment to termination. The best HR software for small businesses isn’t an expensive ERP system designed for large corporations. Instead, it’s affordable cloud-based software that easily integrates with your businesses other apps.
Learn more about what an HRIS/HRMS is before choosing a system.
Best 6 HRIS Software and HRMS Tools
(Best Overall) Any business with 1-99 employees—includes HR, benefits, and payroll processing
Brick and mortar businesses needing workforce management and hiring tools. Free for one location
Low-cost HRMS software for performance-focused firms with recruiting and attendance options
Another good HRIS software for businesses that want to add HR features as they scale
Performance-oriented firms that want robust HR, performance, and employee engagement options
Businesses that manage complex schedules and shift work across multiple locations
How We Evaluated the Best HR Software
The best HRIS/HRMS software for small businesses includes affordable HR software tools that are easy to set up and use. For small businesses looking to set up all employee-related data in one system, HRMS software is a nice solution—especially if it has application integrations that eliminate duplicate data entry as your business grows.
Based on the needs of a small business (1-100 employees), we also focused on HRIS/HRMS software that’s not only easy to use but that is also secure (maintaining encrypted and backed up confidential data). We looked at how it manages compliance responsibilities, how easily it integrates with other HR software, payroll, or accounting applications you use. The final attribute that we considered is how each resource can be used from a mobile device (can employees interact with the HRIS tool on the go or is it primarily accessed through desktop).
Gusto: Best Overall HR Software for Small Businesses
Based on the small business criteria above, we recommend Gusto as the best overall HRIS/HRMS software for small business because it includes HR onboarding, e-signature, an employee self-service dashboard, benefits administration, and payroll in an easy to navigate management platform. Further, we recommend Gusto as the best HR software for small businesses that have under 100 employees. It’s about half the cost of larger HRIS software tools and includes free timekeeping software integration to Homebase or When I Work.
Smooth and easy interface
No mobile app
Payroll is a breeze with Gusto
Primarily, US-only service
Template reports are easy to create and understand
Integration to Gusto from current system can be difficult
What makes Gusto so great for small business is its affordable pricing based on the number of employees (or contract workers) you have. Its base price is $39/month plus $6 to $12/month, per employee depending on whether you want advanced HR features or not. You can upgrade to a concierge package if you want professional HR consulting support. Employee benefits cost extra.
Gusto Pricing Table
($39 per month, base price, plus $6 per month, per person)
($39 per month, base price, plus $12 per month, per person)
($149 per month, base price, plus $12 per month, per person)
Employee Self Service and Profiles
Health Benefits Administration
Workers' Comp Administration
Dedicated Best-in-class Support
Employee access to Gusto Cashout™
PTO Tracking and Policies
PTO policies and Time-off requests
PTO policies and Time-off requests
Employee Directory and Surveys
Simple time tracking
Certified HR Pros
HR Resource Center
Gusto offers features you won’t find in other HRIS/HRMS systems at this price point. It provides employee onboarding, an employee self-service portal, and a complete HR, benefits, and payroll package. All employee data resides in one system; employee documents, like performance reviews, can be attached to each employee’s file and if desired, there is no need for a physical employee file.
- HR Features: HR features include an employee self-service portal where your workers can view and download their pay stubs, review the employee handbook, or check out their 401(k), which saves HR and management’s time from having to answer routine employee questions.
- Benefits Options: Gusto serves as a benefits provider in most US states, and can offer employees health insurance, a 401(k) plan, and even commuter benefits (required in some locations). All those options, including their benefits enrollment, can be done via self-service.
- Payroll Processing: Ability to develop any payroll cycle with Gusto, and they provide multiple payment options like direct deposit to your employees. You can import attendance data from several timekeeping systems, including Homebase (which is free), and then export payroll and tax data to accounting software like QuickBooks.
- Other Features: Gusto offers their Concierge package to offer HR expert advice and a relatively low cost (when compared to other outsourced HR/payroll services). Gusto integrates with free timekeeping software from Homebase, which provides workforce management and recruiting tools to round out your HR package.
To learn more about its features and to review customer feedback, read our full Gusto review.
Homebase: Best HR Software for Brick and Mortar Businesses
We find Homebase best for businesses with a physical location as it is free for one location (with unlimited employees). Homebase is HR software that falls into the category of a workforce management tool because of its scheduling, time tracking, and task management features. It has an HR database with information on employees, an employee communication tool, employee scheduling software, and recruiting options so you can post open jobs to help you find staff, all for free.
Overall platform is easy to use
Some users struggle with layout of app
Features are diverse and meet several needs
Single user version allows limited admin abilities
Exporting payroll is simple and quick
Weekly scheduling can be time-consuming depending on needs
Homebase pricing starts at free and stays there if you have only one physical location like a restaurant, retail store, or repair shop. If you want to upgrade to get more features like department-level scheduling or enhanced reporting, prices range from $19.95 to $99.95 per location for an unlimited number of employees.
Homebase Pricing Table
Cost Per Month, Per Location
Mobile GPS Time Clock
Timesheet Approvals and Restrictions
API Access to Outside Systems
Dedicated Account Management
Homebase is one of the newer cloud-based HR systems that do more than one thing. It’s not just time management, or just communications or just recruiting—it’s all three. At its core is HR software that keeps track of your employee data. It provides instant messaging to employees, lets you schedule and manage their attendance, and keeps track of their overtime.
- HR Features: HR features include an employee database with contact and availability information. It makes managing your employee’s work schedules and attendance easy, by providing payroll-ready time sheets. Additionally, it’s recruiting software lets you post jobs and hire applicants through the system.
- Time and Attendance Options: Offers a robust drag-and-drop scheduling tool that can manage complex shift schedules. It also includes time tracking, time sheets, and a virtual time clock; if you choose, you can let your employees manage their own shift swaps.
- Employee Communication Tools: Allows managers to send messages to individuals and groups. Managers can leave notes for one another and provide information for shifts or events (like a weekend trade fair or a catering event).
- Other Features: Provides free job postings and gives you hundreds of job-description templates to start from. Job seekers can apply via text message. Once you hire someone through the built-in applicant tracking tool, they’ll automatically be added to your employee list for scheduling and will receive an invitation to use the free Homebase app.
Zoho People: Best HR Software for Performance-focused Businesses
We recommend Zoho People’s HRIS software due to its focus on performance. Zoho People is just one tool in a larger suite of affordable business software that includes everything from call center management to a sales suite. Its low-cost HR software is designed for your people activities such as onboarding, document management, timekeeping, scheduling, and performance reviews.
Zoho People's Pro's
Zoho People's Con's
Highly functional and dependable app
Limited HR template forms for benefits management
Plenty of tools and features for users
Customer support team availability is still improving
Large variety of HR tools
Many experience some complexity duing system set up
Zoho People Pricing
Zoho People provides basic HRIS software free if you have fewer than five employees. After that, prices range from $1 to $10 per month, per employee, with price breaks if you sign up for an annual package. Like Gusto and Homebase, it also provides a free trial that doesn’t require you to pull out your credit card.
Zoho People Pricing Table
$1 per employee, per month
$2 per employee, per month
$3 per employee, per month
$5 per employee, per month
Employee Data Entry Forms
Zoho People Features
Zoho People’s most basic package includes an HR employee database with a self-service dashboard for employees. It can track employee data, signed forms and manage leave policies with time off requests and approvals, similar to Gusto. If you upgrade you can get attendance and time sheets, like Homebase, along with shift scheduling. Upgrades include employee profiles, additional forms, performance management, custom reports, and an API.
- HR Data: Employee data lets you track employee information, from schedules to leave balances and performance reviews, electronically. Its mobile app lets your employees access their own data similar to the other HRIS/HRMS software tools we’ve covered thus far.
- Time and Attendance: The HRIS software includes leave tracking in its free version. Once you upgrade, you can schedule jobs, track time, and integrate a biometric time clock.
- Performance Management: What makes Zoho People stand out as a small-business friendly HRIS software tool is that it provides a full performance management suite with multi-rater feedback and 360-degree reviews.
- Other Features: Standard reports are provided based on the module such as time tracking or leave management. If you upgrade, you can integrate reports (and data) with Zoho’s other business software.
Zenefits: Best for Growing Businesses that Want to Add Features as They Scale Up
We recommend Zenefits for those who want more than what Gusto offers (such as timekeeping and performance management), but don’t want to take on a larger end-to-end HRIS/HRMS system yet. It’s in that middle space for companies that have grown past 50 or 100 employees, but don’t expect to grow into the thousands. It’s more costly than Gusto.
Otherwise, it’s similar in that it gives your managers and employees a nice self-service application. Zenefits it best when you’re ready to move up from basic workforce management or payroll software.
Easy onboarding process
Payroll processes need some improvement via overall support
Ease in process when making HR related status changes
Customer Service may not always call back within the same day
Good HR related alerts/reminders for users
Site navigation, at times, can be complex
Zenefits costs from $10 to $27 per month per employee, plus running payroll is an additional cost. On top of that, you pay a monthly base fee of $40. That makes Zenefits cost more than Gusto, and even at $10 per month, you don’t get as many tools and resources as you would with Zoho People, which is half the price.
Zenefits Pricing Table
($8 per month, per employee)
($14 per month, per employee)
($21 per month, per employee)
Time and Scheduling
Well-being (which has additional resources)
Zenefits does have some cool HRIS/HRMS software features that may make it worth the investment. For example, it can help you visualize your HR data, offers custom reporting and custom data fields. Like Gusto, it provides HR records, an employee directory, company org chart, and onboarding.
- HR Features: The HR features offered are basically HR records and document storage. You can customize your onboarding and track new hire forms, as you can with Gusto. If you upgrade to the advanced pricing tier, you’ll get time off tracking, ACA compliance, and some cool tools like a compliance assistant and HR library.
- Payroll Processing: Like any good payroll software, Zenefits can manage your payroll processing and reporting; and like Gusto, your employee data will all be in one place. Also, Zenefits will manage taxes and deductions, including employee pre-tax benefits deductions.
- Benefits: Zenefits is great if you want to offer medical, dental, and vision. Its platform was designed around benefits offerings to make it easy for you (whether you want to provide insurance, health care, or commuter benefits).
- Other Features: Zenefits offers other add-on apps, such as Time and Attendance which costs $5 per month per employee. Similar to Gusto, it offers HR expertise, but that’s a $5 per month per employee as an add-on. Adding performance management costs an extra $4 per month per employee. With Zenefits you can have it all in one system, but you have to pay extra for each add-on.
For more on Zenefits’ suite of business products, read our complete Zenefits Review.
BambooHR: Best HRIS/HRMS Software for Businesses with an HR Department of One
We recommend BambooHR as a complete HR software platform for employee self-service, onboarding, applicant tracking, performance management, document storage, e-signature, and HR analytics. If you have one person managing HR, they’ll appreciate all the HR features and the fact that they can delegate tasks to managers—from applicant tracking to performance management—within one system.
Bamboo HR's Pro's
Bamboo HR's Con's
System is user-friendly; not a lot of training needed
Some reporting is limited
Solid customer support
Still working through some payroll hiccups throughout system
Integration with other software is improving and it presently solid
Cannot split multi-department roles for employees who hold dual roles with different department classifications
What makes BambooHR a good alternative for small businesses is that it’s affordable at $6 to $8 per month, per user for the HR software alone. Payroll and other add-on options like performance management and applicant tracking cost extra. You can contact them for a custom quote and build the system with the exact features you want, similar to how you can tailor Zenefits to fit your business needs.
BambooHR Pricing Table
($4.95-6.19 per month, per employee)
($8.25 per month, per employee)
HR management, such as employee records, benefits administration, reporting, document storage
Email support and customer success webinar library
Tailored workflows and approvals
Custom access levels and email alerts
Integrations via BambooHR Open API and BambooHR Marketplace
Applicant tracking system
Onboarding and offboarding
BambooHR sets up role-based security so that your lone HR person can delegate some of the HR tasks to managers, such as performance reviews. In addition, it can manage the full life cycle of an employee in one system. It starts with an ATS, includes onboarding with hiring documents stored electronically, processes payroll and manages performance reviews. When employees leave your company, it can help you manage the offboarding process as well.
- HR Features: The HR features within BambooHR include employee and manager self-service, leave tracking, an HR employee database, and performance management. It also has an applicant tracking system similar to Homebase and When I Work and allows new hires to onboard themselves.
- Applicant Tracking: BambooHR provides a basic applicant tracking system that lets you source and track your job applicants. This feature makes it easy to move newly hired employees directly from the ATS into your employee database, saving a step (and time) for HR.
- Performance Management: Performance management software, forms, and approvals built in and offers a strong tool set for these HR needs.
- Other Features: BambooHR can track employee time worked and paid time off without you having to bolt-on a third party timekeeping software tool or purchase a physical time clock.
For more on BambooHR’s suite of business products, read our complete BambooHR Review.
When I Work: Best for Multi-Location Businesses That Want to Improve Scheduling and Communication
We recommend When I Work as a great alternative to Homebase’s free timekeeping software. It is $2 per employee per month for up to 100 employees if all you need is employee scheduling and communication tools. Therefore, it’s great for hospitality, technology, and service companies that manage complex schedules across multiple locations, and need to ensure employees are in the loop.
When I Work's Pro's
When I Work's Con's
Smooth and easy to use interface
Some growth opportunities with how billing statements are presented
Shift-specific templates makes scheduling a lot easier
Payment structure does not work for everyone; some opportunities for improvement
Empowers employees to access needed info for work
Some challenges with payroll integration
When I Work Pricing
When I Work offers a scheduling tool that includes team communications. Prices range from $2+/ month, per person depending on how many employees you have. Note that you have to call for pricing if you have 100+ employees.
When I Work Features
When I Work is similar to Homebase in terms of the HR features it offers in support of workforce management. It includes HR tools like policy templates, an employee handbook, and job application forms. With an applicant tracking system built-in, you can post jobs, recruit candidates and hire them using When I Work’s onboarding features.
- Employee Scheduling: Employee scheduling is simplified with a drag-and-drop interface, schedule change approvals, and an option to allow employees to shift-swap. It includes GPS locations and provides notes and task options so that your off-site employees know where to go and what to do once they get there.
- Attendance Tracking: When I Work tracks attendance across multiple job sites and monitors worker’s progress against assigned tasks.
- Team Communications: The messaging features of When I Work make it easy to share schedules and request individuals to fill open shifts. You can send out mass messages to all team members at once, and employees can message one another using any device or format: chat, text, or email.
- Other Features: When I Work offers a single sign-on, which prevents you and your staff from having to remember multiple passwords. Similar to Homebase, it provides an applicant tracking system for hiring and onboarding new employees. By using their API, you can integrate other software like Gusto for payroll, or an expense reporting system, as examples.
Tools & Specific Alternatives to HRIS/HRMS Software Suite
You may be looking just for workforce management, performance management, or just payroll processing. In addition to our top picks for HRIS/HRMS suites, we offer specific alternatives for those just looking for certain software functions such as recruiting only or applicant tracking.
Alternatives to HRIS/HRMS Software
Startup businesses doing a lot of recruiting. Consider Indeed with its free ATS.
Business with more than one employee—to ensure payroll and HR-compliance, as Gusto does.
Businesses that manage complex scheduling and timekeeping, i.e., tools similar to When I Work.
Businesses owners who want to outsource HR and payroll tasks to a co-employer. Consider Justworks.
Learning Management System
Businesses concerned about training and employee certifications. Consider TalentLMS.
Professional firms employing experienced workers that want to find the best talent available. Consider Freshteam.
Hospitality, healthcare, and service industries that manage hourly workers. Consider Homebase.
Thanks to modern software integrations, webhooks, and APIs, you can customize most of these tools and combine them to serve as a full HR software suite to manage all your employee data.
Alternatively, you may want to outsource HR completely using a PEO like ADP Total Source which provides HRIS/HRMS software as part of its service. ADP is the leader in payroll processing. Therefore, you can count on its PEO being a great small business HR/payroll compliant solution.
HRIS/HRMS software will make employee management easier overall by managing all the employee data needed, electronically and in a single location. Regardless of the size of your business, today’s HR system should eliminate paperwork and duplicate data entry. The options we have researched and have found to be the best are ones that are easy to use and integrate well with other HR tools to provide you with an end-to-end HR solution that can manage employees from onboarding to retirement.