TriNet Zenefits (formerly Zenefits) is a human resources (HR) platform that helps businesses hire, onboard, pay, and manage their employees. It also offers time tracking, employee benefits, and compensation management tools. Businesses like it because it’s flexible, offers a wide range of HR solutions, and helps ensure they comply with tax laws and labor regulations.
In our evaluation of the best HR payroll software for small businesses, TriNet Zenefits earned an overall score of 4.01 out of 5. Monthly fees range from $10 to $27 per employee, with add-on fees for payroll processing ($6 per employee monthly), HR advisory services ($10 per employee monthly), benefits administration via your own broker ($5 per employee monthly), and recruiting services (starts at $62 per month).
- HR plans and add-ons require a minimum of five employees
- Payroll, recruiting, and HR advisory services cost extra
- Medical, vision, and dental plans not available in Hawaii
- Advanced HR tools, such as compensation and performance management, are included in higher tiers
Did You Know?
Zenefits was acquired by TriNet, a leading provider of HR and professional employer organization (PEO) services for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). In addition to the slight name change (from Zenefits to TriNet Zenefits), the acquisition made Zenefits into a wholly owned subsidiary of TriNet, expanding both providers’ product offerings to include a broader range of HR solutions and services.
What We Recommend TriNet Zenefits For
- Employers that need an affordable payroll tool: TriNet Zenefits’ payroll module may be a paid add-on to its HR plans, but the cost is still affordable. Its basic Essentials tier with payroll is priced only at $16 per employee monthly—much cheaper than the basic plans of payroll software providers like Paycor.
- Growing businesses with a small HR department: Rated as one of our top HR information system (HRIS) software for small businesses, TriNet Zenefits offers a comprehensive HR platform for managing the entire employee lifecycle, from prehire to retirement. Onboarding is completely electronic, so your HR team doesn’t have to spend time collecting paperwork or managing checklists on paper. Employees also have access to an online portal where they can view their personal information and submit requests, such as for paid time off (PTO). This reduces the administrative tasks your HR staff handles, making employees more self-sufficient.
- Companies with hourly workers: Time tracking and scheduling are included in all of TriNet Zenefits’ HR plans. Aside from creating staff work schedules and monitoring PTO requests, its clock-in locations and identity verifications can help prevent buddy punching while tracking employee attendance.
When to Use Something Else
- Companies that only need help with payroll: If your small company simply needs payroll, this product can be costly. TriNet Zenefits’ Essential HR package plus payroll costs $16 per employee monthly. If you only have 10 employees, you can find other solutions that let you run payroll without having to sign up for the extras. Check out our article on the best free payroll services to learn more about the top payroll options.
- Employers looking for an all-in-one HR and information technology (IT) platform: TriNet Zenefits may have a wide range of HR solutions, but it lacks basic IT tools to help you manage the provisioning and deprovisioning processes when providing employees with their company computers and business software. We recommend Rippling if you want robust solutions for handling HR and payroll, including IT tools for managing computer devices and employee apps.
- Businesses that need global payroll tools: While TriNet Zenefits can help you onboard international workers, it lacks the capability to pay their salaries. This is where the services of a global payroll provider can come in handy. For a list of suitable options, check out our best international payroll software guide.
TriNet Zenefits Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
SMBs looking for HR solutions to manage the employee lifecycle
Three base plans (Essentials, Growth, and Zen) with monthly fees that range from $10 to $27 per employee.
Contingent workers, such as independent contractors and part-time employees, are billed at $6 per worker monthly, regardless of the base plan and add-ons selected.
All plans and add-ons require a minimum of five employees.
Discounted pricing available for those who select annual billing (fees paid in a lump sum)
Ease of Use
How TriNet Zenefits Compares (With Top Alternatives)
Small businesses looking for payroll and solid HR support
Tech-heavy businesses that need HR, payroll, and IT tools
QuickBooks accounting users and companies that need fast direct deposits
Solopreneurs and businesses that want flexible HR payroll solutions
Starter Monthly Fees
$40 base fee plus $6 per employee
$35 base fee plus $8 per employee*
$45 base fee plus $6 per employee
$39 base fee plus $5 per employee
Average User Rating**
4.35 out of 5
4.85 out of 5
4.15 out of 5
4.15 out of 5
Value for Money***
5 out of 5
4.63 out of 5
5 out of 5
2.88 out of 5
Ease of Use***
4 out of 5
2.75 out of 5
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
*Pricing is from a quote we received.
**Scores are taken from G2 and Capterra (as of this writing).
***Ratings based on our evaluation of HR payroll software.
This provider nearly earned a perfect score here, mainly due to its transparent pricing, multiple plan options, and zero setup fees. It lost points because its annual subscription fees for 10 employees exceed $1,200 (for TriNet Zenefits’ starter plan with a payroll add-on).
While payroll and HR advisory services are paid add-ons, TriNet Zenefits’ pricing is still affordable—especially if you only need HR tools. Monthly fees range from $10 to $27 per employee, and you can choose from three options (Essentials, Growth, and Zen). Each plan comes with a variety of HR solutions, from onboarding to employee data management and compensation planning.
Note, however, that all plans and add-on products require a minimum of five employees. If you have fewer employees, you still have to pay the minimum five user seats for your chosen plan and each add-on you use.
$10 per employee
*$8 with annual contract
$20 per employee
*$16 with annual contract
$27 per employee
*$21 with annual contract
Time and PTO Tracking
New Hire Onboarding
Employee Data Management
Compensation and Performance Management
Employee Engagement Surveys**
*Discount available if you sign up for an annual contract.
**Includes tools and prebuilt assessments to help measure and track employee engagement.
Since our last update:
TriNet Zenefits has released recruiting packages to help streamline your candidate sourcing and hiring processes. You can choose from three plans: Hero, Plus, and Pro. Monthly fees start at $62 if you choose to pay on a month-to-month basis ($35 per month if on an annual billing cycle).
TriNet Zenefits Add-ons
- Payroll and payroll tax filings: $6 per employee monthly
- Benefits administration using your own broker: $5 per employee monthly
- HR advisory services: $10 per employee monthly ($8 per employee monthly if billed annually)
- Recruiting: Starts at $62 monthly
The wide range of HR solutions that this provider offers is just one of the reasons why it scored well for HR functionality. Although its health benefits are unavailable in Hawaii and you have to pay extra for HR advisory services, its feature-rich platform has all the tools you need to manage the entire employee lifecycle—from hiring to retiring.
TriNet Zenefits helps onboard your employees as the system is set up to allow them to complete their new hire paperwork online. It also enables you to send offer letters and run background checks. Maintaining an online staff database is also made easy with TriNet Zenefits’ employee management tool. It even includes org charts, reports, and employee directories.
With its higher tiers, you are granted access to compensation planning, well-being and productivity assessments, employee engagement surveys, and performance management tools. It even provides a “People Hub” where you can post company updates, communicate with employees, and track tasks. If you need assistance on how to handle HR and payroll issues, TriNet Zenefits provides advisory services but for a fee ($10 per employee monthly).
TriNet Zenefits can help you search for benefits that you can offer to employees. The options include medical, vision, dental, 401(k), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), life and disability, and commuter benefits. Health benefits coverage is extensive, with medical, dental, and vision plans available in nearly all states (except Hawaii).
With its TriNet Zenefits Health Insurance Marketplace, you are granted access to certified brokers and carriers, such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and Guardian, which can provide online quotes and the best health plan coverage for your workforce. You can even compare plans directly from TriNet Zenefits and have your employees complete their enrollments online.
You can choose to continue using your own benefits broker and integrate your existing plans into TriNet Zenefits’ platform. However, you have to pay $5 per employee monthly for the service.
While many payroll solutions include time tracking features, the tools are often limited, and you have to upgrade to a higher plan or pay extra for it. TriNet Zenefits competes well with the best time tracking software as all its HR plans come with robust tools to help you monitor complex schedules, employee attendance, schedule changes, and project hours. It also includes a mobile app for clocking in/out, viewing time data, and requesting PTO in addition to accessing benefits details and pay stubs.
TriNet Zenefits offers a complete payroll processing solution. Available as an add-on to your base plan, it can handle multiple pay rates, complex deductions, different payout schedules, and payments for hourly and salaried employees, including contract workers. Salary payments are processed through direct deposits or paper checks that you prepare/print yourself. It also supports tip reporting and wage garnishments and can even send child-support payments to the applicable agencies.
With TriNet Zenefits, you can run payroll as many times as you need. While it allows you to input bonus amounts directly into its system, you don’t need to add your employees’ pay rates manually, actual hours worked, and benefits deductions since TriNet Zenefits lifts the information from its other modules automatically.
Despite having solid pay processing and tax filing solutions, this provider only scored 3.75 out of 5 for payroll functionalities. It would have earned a higher rating in this criterion if it offered automatic pay runs and a tax penalty guarantee that’s similar to QuickBooks Payroll, which covers all penalties regardless of who makes the mistake.
In addition to tax calculations and payments, TriNet Zenefits files payroll tax forms for you automatically. Note, however, that all new clients are tagged automatically under its “calculate only” tax services during system implementation. This means that TriNet Zenefits will only compute the applicable tax deductions but won’t remit the payments and file the necessary forms to the tax agencies. To switch to its “full-service” taxes, which include automatic payments and filings, you have to complete a few documentary requirements, such as providing a copy of your tax ID and a signed power of attorney form authorizing TriNet Zenefits to file and pay taxes on your behalf.
TriNet Zenefits earned a perfect rating in this criterion as it provides extensive reporting options to give you better business insight. Its general reports include employee attendance, labor distribution, and payroll summaries. You can also generate comprehensive reports that show meal break compliance, deductions and contributions, garnishments audits, and tax liabilities.
TriNet Zenefits may not have received a perfect rating in criterion―mainly because it lacks the dedicated support that similar HR payroll systems like Paychex offer―but it provides an online platform that’s simple to learn and use. Multiple support options are also available, such as live phone assistance, an in-app help tool, library of how-to guides, and active community forum.
- Onboarding support
- Intuitive admin dashboard
- Chat, email, and phone support
- HR and payroll advisers available
- Active user forum
- Self-service training portal
- Online “Zen Assist” help tool
One of the things that I appreciate about this provider is that it offers a 14-day free trial. It even has a free demo account with populated sample data so that you can test its HR and payroll tools. This makes it easy for you to assess whether its online solutions fit your requirements.
After you’ve decided that TriNet Zenefits is for you, signing up for a plan online is simple to do. With its intuitive platform, you shouldn’t run into any issues setting up your company and performing basic functions. Its features are designed to automate essential HR processes, from onboarding new hires to calculating salaries/deductions and filing payroll taxes. This takes a lot of stress off your valuable company resources, helping you and your HR team focus less on day-to-day administrative tasks.
Navigating through its system generally is easy, and you can add new employees quickly or change staff details when needed. If you’re already using its HR platform and plan to get its payroll product, adding this module won’t be difficult at all to adopt.
In addition, it offers a wide range of do-it-yourself support online, including an active forum where you can interact with other TriNet Zenefits users. You can also use its online “Zen Assist” tool to access help articles and how-to guides. If you want to contact customer service via phone, its support team is available Mondays to Fridays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time. However, you need to have your TriNet Zenefits ID and case reference number, which you can get through Zen Assist, on hand as these will be asked of you.
If you subscribe to TriNet Zenefits’ paid advisory services, you can contact HR and payroll advisors via email or phone from Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. They can provide expert advice on how to handle HR, compliance, and payroll issues as well as help you review your company policies and employee handbook.
Lastly, TriNet Zenefits’ integration options enable you to create efficient workflows and processes with existing business apps—provided these are included in Zenefits’ network of partner systems. Here are some of its integration partners:
- Applicant tracking: Greenhouse, JazzHR, Lever, and Breezy HR
- Accounting: QuickBooks and Xero
- Time tracking: Deputy and QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets)
- Learning management: Lessonly, Spark by EdCast, and Zywave
- Employee engagement: Bonusly and Gifted
- Performance management: BetterWorks, Appraised, Lattice, and Zugata
- Health and wellness: Boon Health and Teladoc
- Collaboration and productivity tools: Box, Office 365, G Suite, Slack, Asana, Workato, Salesforce, Hive, and Zapier
Most of the online TriNet Zenefits reviews on third-party review sites like G2 and Capterra are positive. In our evaluation of this provider’s popularity among users, TriNet Zenefits scored 3.75 out of 5. While its average user rating on online review sites is 4 and up, it didn’t get a perfect score in this criterion because its average number of user reviews is fewer than 1,000.
Users who left positive TriNet Zenefits reviews appreciate how feature-rich and easy to use it is. They like how it helps them to save time when processing payroll and HR tasks like onboarding. However, some said they wished its integration options were more robust while others complained about the slow response time of its support team and having experienced software glitches from time to time.
|Users Like||Users Don’t Like|
|Platform generally is user-friendly||Slow response time for support|
|Ease of doing payroll and onboarding employees||Occasional software glitches|
|Feature-rich platform, with a wide range of HR solutions||Limited customization options|
At the time of publication, TriNet Zenefits earned the following scores on popular user review sites:
Methodology: How We Evaluated TriNet Zenefits
For this TriNet Zenefits review article, we looked at the payroll and HR features on offer and whether these are sufficient to meet the needs of SMBs. We also considered ease of use and pricing, including customer support and feedback from users.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria.
35% of Overall Score
We looked for HR services and functions like online onboarding, state new hire reporting, self-service portals, and a staff of expert advisers. We also gave additional points to software providers offering health insurance available in all 50 states and advanced HR solutions like hiring, compensation, learning, and performance management.
20% of Overall Score
We gave the most credit to solutions that process direct deposits in two days or less, have multiple payment options, handle year-end tax reporting, manage tax payments and filings (federal, state, and local taxes), and offer a penalty-free guarantee.
20% of Overall Score
We looked for features that make the software easy to use, such as having an interface that’s intuitive and customizable. Extra points were given to providers that offer integration options, set-up assistance, live phone support, and a dedicated representative.
15% of Overall Score
We checked to see if the provider has transparent pricing, zero setup fees, and multiple plan options with unlimited pay runs. We also gave additional points to those with plans that cost $1,200 or less per year for 10 employees.
5% of Overall Score
Preference was given to software with built-in basic payroll reports and customization options.
5% of Overall Score
We considered online user reviews and customer service quality trends from popular review sites like G2 and Capterra. Software with an average of 4+ stars and with 1,000 or more reviews on third-party review sites also get higher points.
If you are looking for an HR solution that can help you with managing your employees throughout their employment, TriNet Zenefits may be a good fit. It offers robust HR tools with full-service payroll, automatic tax filings, and employee benefits options. While its payroll module is a paid add-on to its base HR plan, the cost is very reasonable. If you need assistance, TriNet Zenefits provides an extensive library of how-to guides in addition to providing chat, email, and phone support.
Learn more about its functionalities—sign up for a TriNet Zenefits demo today.