Namely and Zenefits are both cloud-based HR systems designed to help you manage employee data, benefits enrollment, payroll, time tracking, performance, and other HR processes. Both provide a mobile app and an HR portal to allow your staff to access pay stubs, request paid time-off (PTO), and view information in their personnel records. Namely’s software and services are more customizable, while Zenefits’ are simpler and more affordable.
When to Use Zenefits vs Namely
How We Evaluated Namely vs Zenefits
To differentiate who Namely and Zenefits are best for, I evaluated the depth of each provider’s HR tools and employee benefits. I also reviewed employee pay and payroll tax processing functionalities and the software’s ease of use, pricing, and customer support.
CRITERIA WE EVALUATED:
- Pricing: Providers that offer a plan priced at $1,000 or less per year for 10 employees are rated more favorably for small businesses. I also looked at whether or not each provider has transparent pricing, multiple plan options, and zero setup fees.
- HR features: HR tools that allow online onboarding, new hire reporting, and time and attendance monitoring are a must for small and mid-sized businesses. Also, having access to HR experts and a self-service portal are also ideal. Compensation and performance management, plus employee benefit options, are usually more suited to larger businesses.
- Payroll features: Automatic payroll runs, payroll tax filing, 1099 form preparation, and multiple pay options are just some of the features that I consider essential payroll services. It’s also great when employers can pay both employee and contractor payroll services, and enjoy a tax penalty-free guarantee.
- Reporting: Providers that allow reports to be customized and built within their payroll systems are usually better for companies with more complexity. Basic HR and employee reports are important for any business.
- Ease of use: Aside from having an intuitive and customizable platform, we looked for setup assistance, live phone support, and a dedicated client representative, with the latter being more important for businesses in heavily regulated industries. I also took note of any how-to guides on their sites and how quickly users say their issues are resolved.
- Popularity: To give you a full picture I looked at reviews that real users left on popular third-party sites like G2, Capterra, and Software Advice. I identified any trends, both positive and negative, that I saw.
Namely vs Zenefits Side-by-Side Comparison
Starts at $12 per employee*
$10 to $27 per employee
HR Information System
Onboarding and PTO Tracking
Time and Attendance
Payroll and Tax Filing
(Federal, Local, and State)
$6 per employee monthly
$5 per employee monthly if using own broker
(Includes ACA-Compliant Health Insurance)
Via third-party insurance carriers
Via Zenefits’ broker network
Available in higher tiers
Compensation Management and Employee Surveys
Available in higher tiers
Employee Directory and Org Chart
Company News Feed
Requires upgrade to the Zenefits Zen plan
*Pricing is based on third-party data. Namely doesn’t publish its fees on its website and are available only upon request.
Common Features Both Namely and Zenefits Offer
- Employee self-service and mobile apps (iOS and Android)
- Online benefits enrollments
- Pay processing for employees and contractors
- Check and direct deposit pay options
- Year-end tax reporting (such as W-2s and 1099s)
- Digital signatures and document management
- HR compliance tools
- Reporting and analytics
- Robust integration options
- Live phone support and how-to guides
Takeaway: If you’re an SMB looking for an affordable HR software, then you may want to consider Zenefits. Compared to Namely, its base plan costs only $10 per employee monthly and comes with essential HR tools that includes employee data management, hiring and onboarding, time and scheduling, and PTO tracking.
However, if you’re a midsize business owner who needs a highly customizable HR platform, then Namely is the better solution for you. Its base system comes with robust HR tools that allow you to manage staff information, onboarding, PTO, and employee performance. Namely also has a built-in company calendar that shows key events (including employee birthdays), plus a field auditing feature that allows you to track data changes.
Pricing: Zenefits Wins
Zenefits came out on top for pricing based on our evaluation criteria. Its transparent pricing, affordability, multiple plan options, and zero setup fees were rated favorably. Zenefits also has a reasonably priced basic tier, called Essentials ($10 per employee monthly), that provides you with core HR tools for managing employee data, electronic documents, hiring, onboarding, timekeeping, PTO, and benefits enrollments. However, you have to pay add-on fees if you want payroll processing, HR and payroll advisory services, and your own broker to manage employee benefits.
Pricing for Namely, on the other hand, isn’t its strongest point since it doesn’t publish its pricing online. You have to contact the provider to discuss your business’ requirements and request a custom quote. According to a third-party site, its monthly fees start at $12 per employee.
In addition, you have to pay setup fees in order to get Namely’s platform up and running. The provider doesn’t have multiple plans; instead, it offers an “HR Fundamentals” package as a starter tier to which you can add modules (such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and timekeeping).
- Zenefits pricing plans: Three tiers (Essentials, Growth, and Zen) that cost anywhere from $10 to $27 per employee monthly; add-on solutions include payroll ($6 per employee monthly), advisory services ($10 per employee monthly), and benefits administration using your own broker ($5 per employee monthly)
- Namely pricing plans: Custom priced; monthly fees reportedly start at $12 per employee (according to third-party data) + set up fees
HR Features and Employee Benefits: Both Namely and Zenefits Win
In our evaluation system, Namely and Zenefits tied. Both offer an online employee database—wherein the data automatically syncs to other modules for payroll processing and benefits management. The two providers also have mobile apps (for iOS and Android) and a self-service portal that your employees can use to view pay slips, request PTO, clock in/out, and check benefits. There’s even online onboarding and new hire reporting tools, including access to HR experts in case you need to get advice on compliance issues.
If you need additional tools, both providers have a wide range of advanced HR solutions. With Zenefits, you get compensation management, employee engagement surveys, and performance management. It even offers a “well-being” module to help you measure, track, and improve workforce well-being and productivity.
Meanwhile, Namely’s advanced HR solutions include managed services (for payroll processing and benefits administration) and a learning management module with over 300 training programs. Additionally, it offers tools for monitoring employee goals and performance reviews.
For employee benefits, Zenefits and Namely’s offerings are similar to each other. Both provide a flexible savings account, a health savings account, health insurance, life and disability, and retirement plans that are available through a network of either partner brokers or third-party carriers.
When Namely’s HR Features and Employee Benefits Are Best
If you want employee performance management included in your basic HR system, then you may want to consider Namely. Its starter “HR Fundamentals” package has the said functionality, along with PTO tracking, onboarding, staff directory and org charts, an employee database, and a social media-style company news feed.
When Zenefits’ HR Features and Employee Benefits Are Best
Although Zenefits’ basic tier lacks a performance management solution, it comes with essential hiring tools that allow you to send offer letters to qualified candidates, run background checks, and onboard new hires. In addition, you are granted access to Zenefits’ time and scheduling module—a functionality that is an add-on solution with Namely.
Payroll Features: Zenefits Wins
When it comes to payroll processing, Namely and Zenefits have similar functionalities. Both providers offer automatic pay runs, contractor payments, multiple pay options (check and direct deposits), and year-end tax reporting (such as W-2s and 1099s). However, based on our evaluation system, Zenefits ranks better than Namely.
Zenefits was weighted more favorably since its payroll tax services include calculations, payments, and filings to federal, local, and state government agencies. This is unlike Namely, which offers only simple tax filing services. Moreover, Zenefits can handle tip reporting—enabling restaurants and similar businesses to capture reported tips easily.
When Namely’s Payroll Features Are Enough
Namely is an ideal option for those who have a payroll or accounting expert on staff who can manage payroll tax payments themselves. Or, if you’re looking for a provider to handle day-to-day employee payroll administration, then you can subscribe to Namely’s managed payroll services. Apart from full payroll service, it offers new tax ID registration and access to a dedicated expert who can help answer payroll-related questions.
Ease of Use, Customer Support, and Integrations: Zenefits Wins
Namely and Zenefits are both easy to use once you’ve completed the initial setup and system configurations. However, given that Namely has a more customizable platform, the time it takes to set up its system is longer than Zenefits’. On average, Namely’s implementation timeline is around six to eight weeks. Zenefits, meanwhile, requires only a couple of weeks—if not several days—for system implementation.
In terms of customer support, both providers offer live phone support, quick issue resolution, and an online help chat. You are also granted access to a library of how-to guides. Namely even has a community forum where you can discuss common issues with the provider’s other clients.
Software integration-wise, Namely and Zenefits each have a robust selection of partner systems. Here are some of the two providers’ integration options:
- Namely partner systems: JazzHR, Greenhouse, Workable, Lessonly, QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets), Boomr, Simply Merit, Bonusly, Verified First, Workato, Zapier, Pingboard, and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)
- Zenefits partner systems: BreezyHR, JazzHR, Greenhouse, Zywave, Lessonly, QuickBooks Time, Deputy, Bonusly, Checkr, Workato, Zapier, Xero, QuickBooks, Expensify, Asana, Slack, and Microsoft 365
Zenefits Pros and Cons
Easy to use
Payroll solution costs extra
Affordable base plan
Limited international payroll options
Fully integrated and modular system
Occasional software glitches and slow load times
Comprehensive benefits administration with health insurance plans available in 49 states
Inconsistent customer support
Namely Pros and Cons
Not ideal for small businesses (with less than 50 employees)
A wide range of HR tools in one solution
Pricing isn’t transparent
Ease of use
Lacks international payroll capabilities (you have to use a third-party service)
Offers managed services (payroll processing and benefits administration)
System setup and implementation takes a long time (average of six to eight weeks)
Having a cloud-based system with essential HR tools for managing employee data, onboarding, time and attendance, and PTO can help make life easier for your HR team, people managers, and staff. With Namely and Zenefits, you get all of these functionalities—such as performance management, pay processing, benefits administration, and compensation management—and more. To decide which is right for you, consider the size of your business, how complex your industry is (are there strict compliance requirements?), and what features you need.
Robie Ann Ferrer contributed to this article