The best human resources (HR) tools range from recommended software to private offices and coffee. We spoke to the experts — HR professionals and business leaders who shared what works best for them — HR tools you can use in your own small business. We have also included some of our own suggestions and alternatives.
1. Gusto Software for HR, Benefits & Payroll
Bo Lais, CEO/Founder, Lula
“The best HR tool that we use is gusto.com. Gusto is inexpensive, and it handles most of our HR. It takes care of our payroll, benefits, and paid time off. It is an easy way for us and our employees to do payroll.
Gusto contains all of the past pay stubs and has excellent customer service. For us as a startup company, it is convenient to be able to pay a monthly fee to automate this portion of our business, rather than paying someone a salary.”
We agree. At Fit Small Business we’ve compared Gusto to ADP, Gusto to other payroll software, Gusto to other benefits alternatives, and even have product review data on Gusto. Gusto continues to stay at the top of our list as best software for HR, payroll, and benefits.
2. Zoho Recruit for Recruiting
Kerry Alison Wekelo, Managing Director HR/Operations, Actualize Consulting
“Zoho Recruit was easy to implement, customizable, and affordable. We have been using for four years and has met all our needs. Previously, we had a more expensive and complex tool that kept upgrading and changing the look and feel.
Zoho Recruit is perfect to manage the recruiting process.”
3. Trello for Managing HR Projects
Brian Cervino, Product Marketing, Trello
Brian suggests that Trello can be used an an HR tool for everything from applicant tracking to managing the social committee and offers great sample HR Trello boards to give you some ideas of how to use Trello to make HR easier to manage.
4. Bamboo HR — for All Human Resources Activities
Mollie Delp, HR, Workshop Digital
“After doing extensive research, we whittled down our selection to BambooHR. It is incredibly user friendly and has a single price for all of its features, including ATS, record management, PTO tracking, and much more.
I was able to eliminate over 17 spreadsheets where data and information was previously manually tracked, and it made it possible for me to easily report on any of it.”
5. Slack for HR Automation
Emma Hunt, Head of Recruitment for Logojoy
“Personally, Slack is my favourite HR tool. Slack has a lot of integration features to automate certain parts of the HR process and also make the employee journey easier. At Logojoy, we currently have Slack integrated with Trello, where we keep company directories, and useful links for employees, and Asana for task management among the teams.
Slackbots can be triggered by asking questions like, “How do I submit an expense?” and integrations that introduce new people in channels and help facilitate people giving shout-outs to one another for great work.”
Here’s an article on best messaging applications to use as HR tools if you want to compare Slack to some of its competitors. In addition, Trello and Asana are free project management tools you may want to check out.
6. Timetastic to Replace Spreadsheets
Tiffany Chesson, Finance and HR Manager, YourParkingSpace.co.uk
“As a start-up company it’s very difficult to find a tool which is functional, but also affordable. We wasted a lot of time with shared spreadsheets and various tools which had very limited functionality before stumbling across Timetastic. It’s very competitive in pricing, but you aren’t left wanting for more features as a result. It works company-wide to track holidays and allows department-heads to set limits as to how many team members can be off at any given time.
Furthermore, it has options to track non-deductible leave such as sickness, compassionate and unpaid holiday. It’s a great place to centralise all the information and the “wall chart” makes it easy to see everything at a glance.”
7. Timetastic with Slack To Keep Track of the Team
Alex Winston, HR Manager, PPC Protect Limited
“Another feature we love about Timetastic is its built-in Slack integration. Since we use Slack regularly in our office, we also have the Timetastic app installed. At the start of every workday, it will post a message and tell everyone in the channel who’s off for that given day. This is really useful if you forgot someone in IT booked a holiday 2 months ago; instead of wondering where they are, the app will tell you that they’re on holiday.
One of the best features of the software is that it displays a monthly calendar and shows when other employees are on holiday. It also marks any public holidays and tells you how many days you have left to book off for the year. This means before an employee requests time off, they can check to see if anyone else is off at the same time.”
These last two responses came from HR professionals in the UK. For other HR tools and timekeeping options, check out our articles like Best Time Clock, Best Scheduling Software, and Best Time Tracking software.
8. Greenhouse Applicant Tracking System for Recruiting
Keaton Kruser, Recruiting Coordinator, Fueled
“For obvious reasons, the number one tool in any talent professional’s arsenal should be their ATS, or Applicant Tracking System. Greenhouse is, without a doubt, the best HR software we use on the Talent Team. The interface is easy to digest and wildly customizable, so it assimilates to whatever processes you have already in place. In addition, the accounts, customer support, and data teams at Greenhouse are extremely helpful and prompt in getting back to you with innovative solutions to any issues you may have.
We left Greenhouse last year in favor of exploring another ATS, but we quickly learned our lesson and came running back after a little over four months because we realized that we aren’t going to find another ATS that is more intuitive or customer-friendly.”
9. Training Tools Like Skillsoft to Educate our Staff
Kathy Ross, SVP, ADP
“ADP believes in the value of organizational learning and knows that it can support talent management. We’ve seen first-hand how effective it can be to link learning to competencies, performance objectives, business objectives, and organizational goals.
Whether it’s creating specialized curricula for new hires or seasoned professionals, providing employees with a wide range of flexible learning assets can help them gain new skills and refine their knowledge throughout their careers.”
10. Background Checks for Safety
Bev Bartlett, HR Officer, City of Chadron, NE
“We have some positions that deal with money, some work with children, and some public safety positions; all of which require a thorough background screening for different reasons.”
11. Google Suite of Business Apps for Everything
Erin Bryan SHRM-CP, HR Manager, Scanadu
“Google, cliche but true … with a startup tech team moving fast and sometimes on the go, I could not keep up with their schedules or needs without Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Docs.
I use Google forms for the back-end of performance evaluations and employee recognition systems, and even use GoogleHire for my ATS. Having all these diverse platforms seamlessly connected saves me hours.”
12. 360-Feedback Tool Impraise for Peer Feedback
Jaśmina Pacer, People & Talent Advisor, Bynder
“Our favourite HR tool at Bynder is Impraise – a 360 feedback tool that allows both managers and peers to give feedback to each other. It’s simple to use, looks good and helps us to foster a feedback culture among all employees.
We use it for different kinds of reviews: Peer review (including self assessment), Leadership review and Employee review, which ensures that everyone gets a full picture of how they are performing in their role.”
13. TinyPulse Survey Tool for Employee Engagement
Cristian Rennella VP of HR & CoFounder of elMejorTrato.com.pe
“After 9 years of work and having tried many different alternatives, I can assure you that our favorite tool is TINYpulse. This software allows us to feel more connected than ever. With mini surveys within the company we can know weekly or monthly suggestions, doubts or even concerns that may be arising in the team.
For example: 3 months ago there was a big change in the company directory, however we did not realize that the communication we made to the company was not very clear. Doubts began to grow about whether this change would also be at a general level (there would be layoffs or internal movements of personnel?).
Thanks to this tool we were able to know about this problem in just a couple of days! and all the doubts were clarified helping everyone to return to work in a normal way and without additional worries.”
14. Coffee for Energy
So many of our HR contributors mentioned coffee as the one thing they couldn’t live without. We agree. Make coffee available freely as one of your employee perks. Here is a sampling of their HR tools comments from the Society of Human Resources (SHRM) blog, SHRM Connect:
COFFEE!! I cannot and will not live without my morning or afternoon coffee!
— Kristen Fuhrer, HR Assistant
LOL!!! Coffee was my first thought too! The day is pretty ugly without it!
— Kristin Stanley, HR Manager
In all seriousness, coffee.If I don’t have it first thing, my day starts off fuzzy. It’s more of a routine that helps me get in the groove to take on the day! Thankfully our office recently just installed a cappuccino machine, it’s been my best friend ever since!
— Ruth Sokol, HR Coordinator
Coffee is my drug (addiction), too. It fuels me.
—Ivette Dupuis, Adjunct Instructor
15. Accounting Software for Number Crunching
David Waring, Co-Founder, Fit Small Business
“One of my best HR tools is to have accounting software like Quickbooks online and an experienced and trustworthy accountant who can answer off-the-wall payroll and tax questions that my employees come up with. Accounting software is helpful when I ask my accountant things like, how much are we spending on labor? A good accountant using great software is so important to HR!”
HR tools and accounting programs work hand in hand when it comes to managing employee payroll data, employee compensation, and cost of benefits. As a small business owner, you’ll want to consider working with accounting software and a Quickbooks Pro accountant or bookkeeping service that has HR and payroll experience.
16. IRS, Government and Vendor Websites for Compliance
Cheryl Dick, HR, via LinkedIn
“One thing I appreciate as an HR Professional is access to updated legal compliance notifications and support from vendors and IRS, Government websites. Cannot imagine doing my work without accurate and timely notifications of compliance law changes.”
17. LinkedIn for Access to A Network of Professionals
KC Bradley, Sr. HR Manager, Accenture
“For me it’s my [LinkedIn] network. The practice of HR is in such a transition phase right now moving from tactical transactions to strategic business partner. Having a strong network of knowledgeable professionals in all types and sizes or organizations provides access to a wealth of knowledge and allows me to better understand the current state and pace of change across different programs and processes.”
18. Society for Human Resources (SHRM) Website for Info
Melanie Veal, HR Director, Butler Metro Housing Authority
”If I don’t access [SHRM] on a daily basis I do so at least 1-2 times a week for information on policies or to keep abreast on issues that impact the workplace. Not to mention it’s the go-to spot in communicating with other HR professionals to gain insight or network.”
19. Break Room TV to Share Messages in Spanish
Christopher McDonough, Manager HR, Consolidated Packaging Group
“As an HR professional, I cannot live without the break room TV. The monitor in the factory is the best way to ensure important messages are communicated (both in English and Spanish). Many factory employees do not have email accounts and many do not have a computer.”
20. Namely HR Platform for Onboarding
Tina Philips, People Ops Manager, Kayako
“We love and use Namely as our HR platform. It contains our entire onboarding kit and has given new hires everything they need to in one place. Aside from capturing the new hire’s vital info such as social security number, bank details, ID and work permits, next of kin details etc., the kit includes:
- All company policies and procedures
- The Kayako Code of Conduct, our company FAQs and our Values
- The list of perks and benefits available to staff
- Information on our referral scheme
All this gives new hires an opportunity to familiarize themselves with everything they need to know, without having to ask or dig for info. Typically, the new hire will get access to our HR platform around two weeks before joining, leaving them with enough time to also familiarize themselves with Who’s Who within the company as every team member has their own profile already set up and an organizational chart is also readily available. Another thing available here are the company holidays (often location specific) and tools to request time off.”
It creates an effortless onboarding experience for both me and the new employee that’s joining.”
Jennifer Weber, HR Assistant, Enertech Global LLC
“I know what I have going on each day, who is out of the office, what meetings I have to attend, projects that need follow-up, etc. I can plan days/weeks/months ahead.
It keeps me organized. I set reminders, such as; dates performance reviews are due, scheduled interviews, dates to run certain reports, payroll notes, dates to enroll benefits for new hires, etc.”
22. Cell Phone and Email for Communication
Shelly Williams, HR Business Partner, American National Bank
“As an HR professional, the one thing I cannot live without is communication. It impacts all aspects of my job and business relationships.”
23. Virtual Private Network (VPN) Access for Working Offsite
Keshia Martin SHRM-CP, Check Into Cash, Inc.
“My VPN access. I need to have access to my company network at all times. This way I am able to use my laptop or smartphone if I’m not in the office and an issue arises.”
24. Private Space for Conversation
Laura Handrick, SPHR, Fit Small Business
“A private office space, break room or meeting room is critical for HR due to the sensitive and confidential nature of employee questions and concerns.”
25. Bandaids for Paper Cuts
Gail Schoenenberger, HR, Lehigh Valley Engineering, via SHRM
“Can’t live without band aids….the paper cuts can be brutal!”
The Bottom Line
While it’s clear many HR staffers have a serious addiction to coffee, the best HR tools may turn out to be ones that help them with communication, and allow them to collaborate with others. In addition, their favorite HR tools are the ones that make their life easier — whether it’s an ATS, HR, Payroll, or time keeping system.
If you’re looking for a top rated, low cost HR system that does it all, from time-tracking to onboarding to payroll, try Gusto.