Human Resource payroll software gives businesses a range of HR support in addition to payroll processing features. It shares information between the two functions—employee record changes that affect payroll are automatically synced. Costs can run from $16 to over $150 per employee, per month, depending on how expansive your HR needs are.
8 Best Human Resource Payroll Software for Small Businesses
Human Resource & Payroll Software
Businesses looking for an inexpensive plan that tackles the basics of payroll and HR
(Overall) Businesses wanting a highly integrative, modular system to get just the tools they need; businesses wanting a highly integrative, modular system to get just the tools they need
Businesses that work only with contractors or who are growing rapidly
Businesses with over 50 employees that want a social-media-style employee message board
Businesses with employees on-the-go or in multiple locations who need a reliable mobile option
Businesses that don’t mind paying a little extra for a customizable and user-friendly solution
Businesses wanting to provide extra employee benefits, like online education and financial wellness
Businesses that want strong customer support for their HR and payroll teams
HR vs Payroll Software: What’s the Difference?
While the programs we consider sometimes have HR features bundled with payroll, many have different HR programs that can be added on. It’s useful to see the differences in the software types and when each might be your best fit:
Payroll Software: Straight payroll software handles the tasks of organizing and executing paying employees and filing taxes. It lets you track employee hours, wages, taxes, and deductions, prints paychecks, and handles direct deposits or pay cards. Its advantage lies in automating tasks that you do every pay run. It may or may not integrate with HR software so that changes in employee status (raises, benefits changes, etc.) are reflected in the next paycheck. Sometimes, basic HR functions, like onboarding, are included in payroll software.
Payroll Services: Payroll services handle all your payroll needs. You provide the information, and they run your payroll, ensure compliances, and get your people paid. Naturally, it’s more expensive than purchasing software, but you have the work done for you by payroll experts, and it may pay for itself in time and labor saved.
Human Capital Management (HCM): HCM covers employee management from recruiting to retirement. It usually includes recruiting and hiring tools, onboarding, benefits administration, performance evaluation, compensation management, training management, and more. The best HCM software plans include employee scheduling and time tracking or attendance, and have strong analytics for budgeting and forecasting labor needs. When combined with payroll software, it feeds time and benefits information to the payroll program, while the payroll software supplies its information for analytics.
Human Resource Information System (HRIS): An HRIS, also called HRMS (Human Resources Management System) collects and stores information on employees. Like HCMs, it can touch on all activities in an employee’s time at a company, but it’s a transactional system, meaning it records and stores the transactions. Thus, it is not designed for analysis but for keeping information consistent throughout all functions.
HR Payroll Software: This is the best of both worlds. Integrated HR payroll software operates payroll and HR functions together so that a change in one—such as adding a new employee—is reflected in the other—getting the new employee’s information into the payroll. It can make it easier to do HR analysis, manage benefits, and prevent errors in employee information. In addition, the bundled prices might be cheaper than purchasing separate systems and making them work together.
All the human resource payroll software we reviewed process payroll for hourly and salary workers and can handle direct deposit and checks. They calculate deductions and let you get basic payroll reports. Finally, all the companies have HR products that work with the payroll software or include HR tools within payroll.
Zenefits HR: Best Overall HR Payroll Software for Small Businesses
Zenefits is an HR solution with a payroll add-on. It’s recommended for those who need HR as well as payroll. With payroll, prices start at $16 per month, per employee. It offers a lot of integrations but can work as a seamless program with payroll, HR, and benefits management. Zenefits also offers on-call advisory services.
Why Some Businesses Use Zenefits
Why Some Businesses Use a Zenefits Competitor
Highly-rated mobile app
Users report long wait times for customer support
Customizable wage codes
Must purchase the HR solution and add the payroll
Zenefits begins with a core HR program, then you can add payroll or advisory services. It also charges you if you prefer to use your own benefits administrator. Prices start at $10 per employee, per month—with payroll add an additional $6 per employee, per month. It has a five-employee minimum.
$10 per employee, per month
$18 per employee, per month
$27 per employee, per month
Core HR, time and scheduling, integration, mobile app, compliance tools (explanations, reminders, monitoring)
Essentials Plan + compensation and performance management
Growth Plan + well-being/morale tools
- Payroll: $6 per employee ,per month. Currently offering the first year free.
- Advisory Services: Unlimited access to HR and payroll experts, $8 per employee, per month.
- Benefits administration using your broker instead of Zenefits: $5 per employee, per month.
- Ease of use: Easy spreadsheet-style for reviewing payroll; automated reminders for tasks.
- Payroll processing: Unlimited pay runs, direct deposit and checks, contractor and freelancer management, custom wage codes, multiple pay rates; time tracking, PTO, deductions and garnishments, dynamic pay stubs, bulk earnings; employees can access via mobile app and have lifetime access to files; integrates with accounting and other software.
- Tax compliance: Automatic federal and state tax filing, automatic new-hire state filings.
- HR functions: Hiring offers, onboarding, org charts, and employee handbooks. Onboarding syncs to payroll. HR expert advisers (additional fee). ACA compliance filing. Business intelligence reports.
- Reviews: The mobile app has 4.5 of 5 stars. The software services have 4.1 to 4.4 out of 5 stars. Users praise the ease of use and how everything integrates. They appreciate the mobile app that lets employees handle their own information. Many users said customer service took over a day to respond and were often unhelpful, even in the software onboarding process.
Discover more about Zenefits’s human resource and payroll features in our Zenefits review.
Rippling: Best HR Payroll Software for Small Businesses Needing Integrations
Rippling’s HR management and payroll software begins with a base program that costs $8 per employee, per month. You then add modules for payroll, benefits administration, ACA and COBRA administration, Flex Benefits, Help Desk, Apps management, and Devices and Security. It’s highly adaptable and can even help with hardware purchases.
Why Some Businesses Use Rippling
Why Some Businesses Use a Rippling Competitor
Limited to 1,000 employees
Integrates with 500+ apps
Some information defaults to public in emails
Module for purchasing and managing employee devices
Help desk and compliance updates extra
Rippling begins with the Employee Management Platform and adds payroll features in an a la carte system, with prices starting at $8 per employee, per month, and increasing depending on what modules you need. Payroll starts at around $7 per month, per employee. It also offers device sales and security if you want to purchase hardware for your employees.
- Ease of use: In addition to the intuitive platform and automations, Rippling’s base program has task management and workflow management functions for handling projects.
- Payroll processing: Global pay runs with direct deposit or paychecks, reimbursements, and other payment types. Employee portal and mobile app let workers see pay stubs, and request PTO requests; it also has time tracking, deduction management, and integration with over 500 apps.
- Tax compliance: Automatic federal, state, and local tax filing.
- HR functions: Onboarding, automated employee changes, org charts, benefits administration, ACA and COBRA administration, flex benefits administration.
- Reviews: Rippling users give it between 4.2 and 4.9 out of 5 stars on various review sites. The interface and modularity got high marks. There were few complaints, but the most noticeable was that some information that should be private, like salary, shows up on emails.
Learn more about Rippling’s human resource and payroll features in our Rippling review.
Gusto: Best HR Payroll Software for Growing Businesses
Gusto is a highly rated payroll and HR software service that allows unlimited payrolls, has a contractor-only option and offers a sound set of HR tools. It’s a great choice for small businesses, although it’s robust enough for larger corporations, up to 100 employees too. Prices start at $39 per month + $6 per employee, per month.
Why Some Businesses Use Gusto
Why Some Businesses Use a Gusto Competitor
No mobile app
Plans and tools for accountants
Employees can get advances on pay
Limited HR functions
Gusto has an inexpensive contractor-only plan, but for wage-earning employees or HR benefits, plans start at $39 per month, plus $6 per month for each employee or contractor. The concierge plan, at $149 per month + $12 per person per month, includes the full HR package.
$6/person, per month
$39/month + $6/person, per month
$39/month + $12/person, per month
$149/month + $12/person, per month
Contractor payments, self-service, 1099 creation and filing
Full-service payroll, benefits, workers' comp
Core + PTO permissioning, time tracking, employee onboarding, directory and surveys, Gusto Cashout
Complete + HR Pros and resource center, admin permissions
- Ease of use: Gusto has a modern and intuitive interface, a searchable support center, video guides, and live chat support during onboarding.
- Payroll features: Unlimited payrolls, direct deposit or checks, child support garnishments in 49 states; syncs with time-tracking and accounting software. Employees can get advances on paychecks (Gusto Cashout).
- Tax compliance: Automatic payroll tax filing; updates with changes in tax laws, rates.
- HR functions: Health benefits administration, hiring offers and onboarding, employee surveys, org charts, employee handbooks; new hire paperwork filing; HR advice on demand; limited HR features compared to other options on our list
- Reviews: 4.8 of 5 stars. Both employers and employees appreciate how easy it is to use. There are few consistent complaints, mostly reports of glitches or slow customer support response.
To learn more about Gusto’s human resource and payroll features, read our Gusto review.
Namely HR: Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses Emphasizing Company Culture
Namely HR is best for companies with 50 to 1,000 employees. Its claim to fame is its highly interactive employee portal, which not only handles onboarding, PTO requests, and other standard HR functions, but also allows employee interaction, company goals tracking, and more. With seamless interaction between software functions and integration with outside software, it keeps all your employee information current from HR to payroll.
Why Some Businesses Use Namely
Why Some Businesses Use a Namely Competitor
Active employee portal
Best for over 50 employees
Employee message/social media screen
Client care seems mostly web-based rather than via phone
Compliance training and tracking included
Time tracking is problematic
Namely HR Pricing
Namely HR starts at $12 per month per employee for its basic HR function. You add modules, like payroll. This can run up to $30 or more a month, per employee. It also charges setup fees ranging between $50 and $100. You can get a free demo.
Namely HR Features
- Ease of use: Easy to use and customizable, with an employee portal that lets your workers take care of personal HR tasks. The Help community accessible online or via the program and has FAQs, learning materials, webinars, and more.
- Payroll processing: Unlimited manual or automated pay runs, automatic benefits deductions, time integration. Integration with financial/ERP, time tracking, and other payroll and accounting programs.
- Tax compliance: Tax filing, year-end reporting, ACA reporting. Integrates with eSignature, COBRA Administration, and others.
- HR functions: Benefits enrollment and compliance. Onboarding, performance evaluations, employer/employee communication. Integrations with benefits, travel, recognition, and other HR software.
- Employee features: Portal for viewing pay, requesting PTO, sending peer appreciation, and more. Profiles include photos. The mobile app has 2.7 out of 5 stars.
- Reviews: Namely earned 3 to 4 stars on various user review sites. HR specialists appreciated the ease of use and the employee social-media-style message board. There were some complaints about the time card function. Many users reported problems with customer service.
Learn more about Namely’s human resource and payroll features by reading our Namely review.
Paycor HR: Best Overall Payroll Software for Small Businesses Wanting a Mobile Option
Paycor offers a payroll program with some HR features, as well as other HR products that integrate into the payroll software. It offers a highly-rated mobile app for employees and integrated timekeeping capabilities as well as tax filing, and garnishment management. Payroll plans start at $99 per month, but for HR features, you need a more expensive plan or add-ons.
Why Some Businesses Use Paycor
Why Some Businesses Use a Paycor Competitor
General ledger integration
Clock in/out doesn’t work well with multiple locations
Must purchase most expensive plans for software integration and reporting options
Dedicated rep; knowledgeable HR help staff
No foreign payroll
Paycor HR Pricing
Paycor offers small business packages for up to 40 employees that start at $99 per month. Companies over 40 employees need to call for a quote.
Starting $99 per month
Starting $149 per month
Starting $199 per month
Payroll, federal and state tax filing, direct deposit, mobile app, compliance document storage, pre-made PDF reports
Basic Plan + worker’s comp pay-as-you-go, PTO requests/approvals, garnishment, child support, HR support center, HR checklists, handbooks, report builders, analytics, benchmarking
Essential Plan + onboarding, integrations to 401(k) providers, GL integrations, 1:1 HR guidance, e-signature
Paycor HR Features
- Ease of use: Run payroll from a single screen, view progress bars, add columns, and get instant access to help articles.
- Payroll processing: Direct deposit, checks, and pay cards; employee portal with a mobile app for viewing pay information, requesting PTO, clock in/out, and more. 401(k) and other deductions, garnishments, and e-child support; contractor onboarding (Complete plan).
- Tax compliance: Automatic tax filing, tax compliance assistance; checks for new-hire tax credits.
- HR functions: Onboarding, e-signatures, HR templates, and handbooks. Additional HR products include benefits administration and ACA, learning management, and recruiting. Employee self-service.
- Reviews: The mobile app has 4.6 stars, and the software itself, 3.8 out of 5 stars. Users overall appreciate the functionality and self-service features for employees. Some users said certain functions (time-tracking for multiple locations, e-signature) don’t work as well as they should.
To learn more about Paycor’s human resource and payroll features, check our Paycor review.
Paycom HR: Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses Needing Customizations
A Paycom user called it, “the Corvette of payroll software.” Paycom has a smooth interface, a highly-rated mobile app, and a wide range of payroll customizations that make it easy to use. Like a Corvette, it can be pricier than other software. Pricing depends heavily on your company’s individual needs and demographics, so you have to call for a quote.
Why Some Businesses Use Paycom
Why Some Businesses Use a Paycom Competitor
Very easy to use
More expensive than other options
Charges per pay run
Paycom charges per employee, per pay run. It does not list pricing online, and the website features do not conform to the al la carte modules. There’s also a setup fee of 30% of your annual spend, but you can negotiate that down. Call for a quote. Users noted that the prices increase as you add functionalities. One said their charges increased annually. Most agree that it is more expensive than other options.
- Ease of use: Customizable payroll grid so you can see the information you need. Delegate tasks, customize checklists, get automatic error warnings. Dedicated specialist and training videos.
- Payroll processing: Batch editing, effective dating, audits. Direct deposit and paper checks from Paycom’s bank account. Employee module and app for access to pay stubs, track time, record business expenses, access employer training.
- Tax compliance: State and federal filing. Tax credits service (additional fee) looks for credits you may apply for such as new-hire credits.
- HR functions: Tracking and reporting to stay compliant with ACA, workers’ comp, OSHA, and other regulations. Benefits administration. Employees can review and sign documents via the app.
- Reviews: The mobile app has 4.6 out of 5 stars. Users rate the service at 4.3 out of 5 stars. The most common complaint was the price, which increased with each function and sometimes annually. However, most said the ease of use and customizability made it easy to run HR operations.
To learn more about Paycom’s human resource and payroll features, check our Paycom review.
Paychex HR: Best Payroll Software for Solopreneurs to Medium Businesses
Paychex stands out because it has programs even for solopreneurs, but has plans robust enough for large businesses. Prices depend on multiple factors, so you must call for a quote. The plans can handle payroll and HR issues plus allow you to integrate with your favorite HR, accounting, point-of-sale, and productivity tools.
Why Some Businesses Use Paychex
Why Some Businesses Use a Paychex Competitor
Intuitive interface with built-in safeguards against errors
Not good for complex payroll structures
Has a program for solopreneurs
Lacks in-depth data for some things like retirement
Has pay card program
Pricing is not transparent
Paychex does not reveal its pricing until after it has had a local representative consult with you on all your needs. Be ready for an in-depth assessment of your payroll, after which you’ll get a demo. We were able to generate two quotes for the Payroll Flex program, which has payroll and HR software, but not the advisory services or recruiting tools.
Paychex did not give a full breakdown of costs, but rather a per pay run sum, an annual tax filing sum, and setup fees. From this, we determined that Paychex charges about $3 per employee, per pay run and about $10 per employee for annual tax filings. We were quoted a setup fee of $250. However, prices are not set. You will need to talk to a sales rep.
- Ease of use: Three view options, including grid for quick data entry, and built-in safeguards against errors. Excellent user interface.
- Payroll processing: Direct deposit, paper checks, and pay cards; can pay hourly, salary, or contract workers; employee portal and mobile app for viewing pay and HR information, and making changes.
- Tax compliance: Automatic tax calculations, payment, and filing.
- HR functions: Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. Health benefits administration and HR records management. HR analytics and reports. Health insurance and retirement services. Learning management system. Paychex is a health benefits and workmans’ compensation broker as well.
- Reviews: 4.1 out of 5 stars. Users say the interface is uncomplicated and intuitive. Complaints were varied and mild: a request for a more robust feature, a difficulty accessing a function, an update that didn’t work well, and the like.
Want to know more about Paychex’s human resource and payroll features? Read our Paychex review.
APS: Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses Inexperienced With HR or Payroll
APS offers complete HR and payroll solutions with a dedicated team to help you not only with general advice but also with using the software. It’s the only software we reviewed that received consistent praise for its customer support and thus is a good choice for those companies that need a little extra help. It is one of the more expensive plans, and you need to call for a quote.
Why Some Businesses Use APS
Why Some Businesses Use an APS Competitor
Alerts for overtime and approaching ACA time limits for part-time workers
More expensive than other options
Pay card option
Expensive for <50 employees
APS has an installation fee of $150 plus 10% of your annual spend as an implementation fee. It then charges $6 to $15 per employee, per month, depending on the functions you need. Straight payroll costs $6 per employee, per month, for example. It requires a minimum of $250 each month, so if you are a very small business, you’ll be overpaying.
- Ease of use: Clean, intuitive interface; dedicated support team, training on the system as long as you own it, HR experts on hand to answer questions. Automated workflows.
- Payroll processing: Direct deposit, checks, pay cards; garnishments and benefits; time tracking with overtime alerts; employee portal for viewing pay information, requesting PTO, update information.
- Tax compliance: Guaranteed compliance for accuracy and timeliness of payroll tax payments and filings, assistance with tax filings; tax tables updated automatically.
- HR functions: Recruiting and onboarding; benefits administration and ACA compliance functions; performance reviews; employee portal for signing documents, requesting benefits, completing performance reviews; HR analytics.
- Reviews: APS gets high marks from users: 4.6 out of 5 stars on average from software users and 3.6 stars on the mobile app. This is the one software we reviewed where users gave glowing remarks about customer support. Complaints varied; we saw requests for batch upload and changes, but many said if they had a technical issue, the support team was on-hand to help.
The best HR payroll software offers a seamless system between HR functions like onboarding, benefits management, and scheduling with payroll functions like wage determinations, paycheck processing, and tax filing. The software we reviewed offer strong integrations for information sharing and automation of tasks so your HR department has more time to care of your people.
We found Rippling to be the best because of its excellent price point, integration capabilities, and modular nature. You can create a system that best suits your needs and can grow with you. There’s no free trial, but contact Rippling for a demo today.