There are seemingly countless cloud HR software solutions available, so figuring out which is best for you is tough. You want to manage human resources tasks online, offering accessibility, data storage, and streamlined HR processes like payroll, recruitment, and performance management—but now need to figure out which tool is the best fit. In this post, I make things simple, leveraging my experience as an HR and recruitment specialist using dozens of different HR tools to bring you this shortlist of the best cloud HR software.
What is Cloud HR Software?
Cloud HR software is an online platform that handles various human resource functions, providing remote access, data security, and efficient management of employee-related processes. Key features of cloud HR software include remote accessibility, employee data management, payroll processing, recruitment and onboarding tools, performance tracking, benefits administration, and real-time analytics and reporting.
Deel is an excellent cloud-based HRIS for businesses that need to manage employee data and handle payroll tax compliance. It’s used by companies like Dropbox and Shopify to handle their global workforces. Deel's platform can hire employees or contractors in over 150 countries on your behalf as an employer of record, eliminating the need to set up a new entity or understand foreign payroll requirements. Companies can use Deel to offer international benefits, offer stock options, and track equipment in a streamlined manner.
The platform is easy to use and provides a variety of features that make it a great choice for businesses of all sizes. Deel integrates several functions, including contract management, expense reimbursements, and off-cycle adjustments. Employees can also self-manage their pay and personal data, which reduces admin load.
The platform does not provide tools for screening candidates or tracking applications but integrates with applicant tracking systems like Ashby and Greenhouse. Users can directly import qualified candidate data into Deel to initiate onboarding and use Deel’s built-in Veriff integration to validate users.
The company provides 24/7 client support and live chat. Any company considering hiring an international worker should evaluate Deel for their workforce.
Paycor is a cloud-based HR software to streamline HR processes and improves team collaboration. The system includes a robust suite of tools for managing employee data, tracking time off and absences, and creating and managing employee onboarding processes. Using Paycor, you can manage employee records, create custom reports, and set permissions for those who can access the system. The system offers a built-in audit trail that tracks all changes to employee records.
Paycor's process automation feature can automatically generate payroll reports, create invoices and performance reviews, and send reminders for upcoming deadlines. This feature can also automate repetitive tasks such as scheduling employee shifts or ordering supplies. Businesses can free up resources to focus on more strategic goals by automating time-consuming tasks.
Its web and mobile HR app allows employees to access their HR information and perform various tasks independently through the self-service portal. Employees can update their profiles, access and sign documents, and view and print their payslips. Paycor provides users with a comprehensive knowledge base of HR best practices, including toolkits and manuals.
The software offers templates and tools for creating well-organized, comprehensive reviews, ensuring that all relevant employee information is included and that the review process is as efficient as possible. Additionally, Paycor's software has a built-in rating system that objectively evaluates employee performance, making the review process fairer and more accurate.
Paychex Flex is an all-in-one solution that caters to the needs of HR, payroll, and benefits management. It is designed to serve businesses of all sizes, providing a single platform for various HR-related tasks. This tool offers customized payroll packages, online payroll services with round-the-clock support, and valuable tax credits. It allows businesses to pay employees in various ways, automate tax payments, and assists with hiring, onboarding, managing, and developing employees. It offers retirement plans and employee health benefits. This comprehensive approach to HR, payroll, and benefits management makes Paychex Flex a suitable choice for businesses seeking a unified solution for these critical operations.
I selected Paychex Flex as a cloud HR software due to its comprehensive suite of features that cater to various HR needs. It stands out as an all-in-one platform that combines HR, payroll, and benefits management, making it a versatile tool for businesses of all sizes. What differentiates Paychex Flex is its ability to automate complex HR processes, thus simplifying administration tasks. It offers a range of features including payroll services, time and attendance tracking, retirement services, recruiting and applicant tracking, benefits administration, hiring and onboarding services, and a professional employer organization (PEO) solution.
The tool also enables businesses to track employee time and attendance through various methods, including time clocks, mobile apps, and web-based time entry. The onboarding feature provides a digital platform for new hires to complete necessary paperwork, review company policies, and access training materials. Paychex Flex also offers robust reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing businesses to gain insights into their HR data. It assists businesses in managing payroll taxes by calculating and filing federal, state, and local taxes, and offers retirement services, including 401(k) administration and compliance support.
I believe Paychex Flex is best suited for comprehensive HR, payroll, and benefits management due to its extensive feature set and user-friendly interface. It not only simplifies complex tasks but also provides access to a dedicated HR professional for real-time guidance.
ClearCompany is a cloud-based talent maximization platform that's designed to help HR teams support their staff across the full employee lifecycle. Their platform covers many features, including applicant tracking, employee onboarding, performance management, employee engagement, and related analytics.
What sets ClearCompany apart from other HR software systems is its focus on transparency and alignment. It's designed to help you create a clear, aligned workforce where everyone understands their role and how it contributes to the company's overall goals. It achieves this alignment, in part, through its performance management module that includes advanced goal-planning tools. Using this module, you can set goals for your employees, track their progress, and provide feedback. It's a great way to keep your team motivated and focused on their objectives.
Another one of ClearCompany's standout features is its applicant tracking system, which offers you more than just a portal for posting job ads and collecting resumes. Instead, it uses powerful automation features to help you screen candidates, schedule interviews, and even conduct background checks. It's a huge time-saver and makes the entire recruitment process much more efficient.
Integrations are available with numerous skill assessment platforms, background-checking tools, payroll systems, and benefits providers. Key systems to note include ADP, BambooHR, Ceridian, Checkr, eSkill, Office 365, Okta, OneLogin, Paychex, Paylocity, UKG Pro, and others.
Zoho People is a cloud-based HR software solution that helps simplify HR operations and the employee experience. Their employee database scales easily and is used in over 45 countries. Their platform streamlines core HR functions such as employee onboarding, time off management, HR file management, and employee database management.
Even at their lowest pricing level, users will benefit from module-based reports, workflow management tools, and “Zia” - their AI bot which answers employee questions and can be accessed from any screen within their system.
Technically an HRMS, this is a great choice for businesses with hourly, shift-based, field-based, or remote workforces due to the depth of their attendance tracking, shift-scheduling and mobile check-in features. By enabling Zoho People’s geo-fencing capabilities, companies can mark geographic locations such as client offices or field sites using GPS points. GPS-based attendance improves the accuracy of reported work hours by ensuring mobile staff can only log in when they arrive in the area, and not before.
Their full-feature mobile app is another bonus for mobile workers as they can access company information or connect with their colleagues in just a few clicks. As well, remote workers can check-in and out of their workday using People Kiosk: a digital version of the old punch-clock system that uses facial recognition to identify workers and track in and out times.
Integrations are available with Google Workspace and Google Analytics, Office365, Slack, Zendesk, WordPress, Joomla, and payment gateways such as PayPal, WePay, WorldPay, and more.
In addition, Zoho has a whole suite of their own custom Zoho apps, including Zoho Analytics, Zoho Books, Zoho CRM, Zoho Directory, Zoho Expense, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Mail, Zoho Projects, Zoho Recruit, Zoho Sign, Zoho Vault, and Zoho Writer.
BrightHR’s cloud HRIS system allows companies to manage employee data, attendance and absences, expenses, shift schedules, and document management all within one system. It’s an excellent choice for business leaders who are constantly on the go thanks to their full-feature mobile app for Android and iOS devices.
BrightHR can also be used in conjunction with other Bright Software modules that address health and safety (BrightSafe) and employee wellness (Bright Wellness & Counselling). On top of that, HR teams will also appreciate BrightHR’s list of resources including templates and guides (through BrightBase) and HR and employment law advice (though BrightAdvice).
One feature that caught my eye is the ability to automate reminders for certain tasks. For example, as you’re onboarding a new employee, you can automatically schedule an email reminder to mark the end of their probationary period. This is really useful since the end of a probationary period typically requires additional paperwork, and it can be hard to stay on top of it manually if you have a large group of employees you’re managing.
The document management capabilities within BrightHR are also very strong. Users have the ability to update and share new documents with team members easily through their web platform or mobile app. To ensure new information is actually read by staff, you can assign a follow-up date, automate email reminders, and track completion through read receipts. These features make their document management area very useful for tracking corporate policies or internal employee training documents, since you can ensure all your employees are always referring to up-to-date information.
OrangeHRM is a human resource management system (HRMS) available through cloud hosting or on-premise hosting, depending on your needs. The cloud version of their product called OrangeHRM Starter is available for free under an open source license, making it an excellent choice for small businesses or startups.
Key features within their OrangeHRM Starter product include time tracking features like timesheets and clock-in/clock-out abilities, a time off management system, 180-degree employee performance reviews, job postings via an integration with your company website, and an employee database including a corporate directory with employee profiles.
To access additional features, you can scale up to their Advanced package, which includes an organization chart, a document manager, a disciplinary tracker, more advanced recruitment tools, and digital onboarding tools. Their Advanced level also supports performance and career development planning through customizable 360-degree reviews, goal tracking, individual development plans, and a 9-box matrix to monitor employees ready for advancement.
Though specific software integrations are not mentioned on their website, they do have an API that supports them. Their system is also mobile accessible as well.
Their OrangeHRM Starter product is free to use through an open-source license, though they have full-feature paid offerings as well.
Say “hi” to Bob, an HRIS system designed to bolster employee engagement and help link employees to your company culture, no matter where they’re logging in from.
Their cloud-based HR solution boasts a social media-like user interface that gets employees excited about engaging with other team members. From the main homepage, employees can view key details like work anniversaries, birthdays, and other facts about colleagues to help them make connections that go beyond just work tasks—an important feature for fostering team engagement in today’s hybrid work world.
Bob’s platform includes all the typical HRIS features you’d expect, including employee data management, HR analytics, culture tools, time and attendance tracking, digital onboarding tools, and a document hub with DocuSign built right in. Bob also keeps a log of where staff are (i.e., working remotely, in the office, sick, or on vacation), which is another useful feature for companies with distributed or hybrid workforces.
Bob integrates with 40+ common HR software solutions, including Google Suite, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zapier, and many others. They also have a full-featured mobile app for Android and iOS as well.
Collage is a great cloud-based HRIS software option for Canadian businesses as it comes pre-set to Canadian employment standards.
Their platform includes all the typical HR tools you’d expect in an HRIS, including employee self-service modules, a time-off management system, performance management features, a recruiting portal with an applicant tracking system, and robust HR reporting across all employee data. The performance management module includes modern, continuous feedback elements like 360-degree reviews, check-ins and customizable survey tools.
Managers and employees will appreciate the simplicity of the time-off management system, which can be accessed via their mobile-friendly app as well. Collage automatically tracks time off accruals and balances, and syncs vacation requests with a company calendar so teams always know when co-workers will be away. Vacation requests can also sync with payroll depending on how you configure your platform.
Customers can also outsource their payroll functions to Collage’s team of CPA-approved payroll managers who provide full payroll management services that are compliant with Canadian tax laws. This is a helpful option for small companies that don’t already have payroll expertise in-house. HR professionals will also appreciate the system’s ability to streamline benefits administration by syncing directly with your employee benefits provider for an additional fee of $2 CAD/user/month.
Payroll functions are not included in their Core HRIS package, but a data sync with other payroll software is available as an add-on for an additional $3 CAD/user/month.
Cloud9HR’s cloud-based software supports a wide range of functions, including digital onboarding, talent management, benefits administration, insurance, and payroll processing. Their system also includes organizational management tools, which allow you to easily transform your company directory into a straightforward organizational chart too.
Cloud9HR’s payroll functionality includes the ability to import hours from other time tracking software, or use their own built-in clocking feature. Their software also incorporates 2-way payroll integrations that allow for seamless data transfer between your favourite accounting software and Cloud9HR, to reduce the possibility of errors.
Best cloud HR platform for end-to-end payroll management for global workforces
Free demo available
|Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people||Website|
Best cloud HR software for talent management + employee experience
90-day free trial + free demo available
|From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee||Website|
Best hybrid workforce management with comprehensive compliance tools
Free demo available
|From $39/month + $5/employee/month||Website|
Best cloud-based software that covers the full employee lifecycle
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best all-in-one cloud platform for managing variable workforces
30-day free trial
Best cloud HRIS for automations and document management
Free trial + free demo available
Best free cloud-based HRMS software, available via open source
30-day free trial + free plan available
Best cloud HR software for engaging and connecting hybrid teams
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best cloud HR for small to medium-sized Canadian companies
Free demo available
Best cloud HR tool for payroll and talent management
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best cloud HR software for workflow automations and software integrations
Best cloud HRIS system for employee self service
Best cloud HR platform for employee well-being and feedback module
- Kallidus Sapling
Best cloud HR software for customizing workflows
- Sage HR
Best cloud based HR software for talent management and succession planning
Best all-in-one cloud-based platform for Canadian companies with lean HR teams
Best cloud HR software for compliance and health & safety focused industries
- HR Cloud
Best cloud HR software for digital onboarding and offboarding processes
- Oyster HR
Best cloud HR platform for international recruiting and payroll management
Best cloud HR software for performance management
Selection Criteria for Cloud-Based HR Software
First and foremost, to construct this top 10 list of the best cloud-based HR software, I drew upon my nine years of experience working in an HR department to add more expertise to my software assessments. This experience gave me a first-hand view of which features really add value and reduce time-consuming manual work.
To start out, I evaluated and compared a wide range of HR and people management systems that covered all the core HR functions. Using my long list as a guide, I further honed my selections by using the key features and other selection criteria below as a guide. Using these criteria as a standard framework, I was able to see how each system compared to the next.
Here’s a summary of the main features I assessed while building this list of the best cloud-based human resources software:
- Core HR data management features: A single source of employee data management that populates all software modules automatically in real-time.
- Payroll functions: Integrated, tax-compliant payroll management software that removes the need for manual calculations.
- Time off & attendance: Tracking when your employees start and stop work, as well as their vacation and other leave requests.
- Benefits administration: A way to link your health benefit offerings to your core employee and payroll data, and digitize the benefits enrollment process.
- Performance management: Tools to facilitate performance reviews and track employee performance and development over time.
- Recruiting & onboarding tools: This includes digital tools to screen candidates, streamline the hiring process, and turn candidates into new hires, including an applicant tracking system (ATS).
- Training & learning management features: A process for tracking employee qualifications and certification expiry dates, and hosting in-house training presentations.
- Employee self-service portal: The ability for employees to update their own personal information and access other details independently without relying heavily on HR staff.
Other Selection Criteria
In addition to the key features above, I always dig into the following criteria, no matter what type of software I'm researching:
- User Interface (UI): I sought out systems with a visually attractive, clean, and colourful interface that makes using the system enjoyable.
- Usability: I prioritized systems that are simple, straightforward, and user-friendly, making it easy for users at all levels to complete tasks independently.
- Software integrations: To improve productivity, I selected systems that integrate with other common HR tools to gain functions that aren’t already included in these systems.
- Pricing: I prefer systems with a transparent price per user, but those details are not always readily available.
Cloud HR Software Trends for 2024
Understanding emerging trends in cloud HR software helps you better assess what to look for in a solution. I like to keep up with the shifting functionalities, features, and focuses of these products to ensure my lists are not just up to date, but forward looking. Here are 5 key trends I see taking shape now and into the future:
AI-Driven Talent Acquisition
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in talent acquisition is revolutionizing hiring processes. This technology is improving how you can attract, discover, and recruit the right people for your open roles. AI-driven recruitment tools can analyze vast amounts of data to:
- Identify the most suitable candidates,
- Reduce time-to-hire, and
- Improve the recruitment and onboarding process.
These systems are becoming increasingly adept at understanding job requirements and candidate profiles, offering a more efficient and effective recruitment process.
Employee Wellness and Mental Health Platforms
The rise of platforms focusing on employee wellness and mental health speaks to the increased importance of demonstrating care for your workforce. These cloud-based solutions offer resources like counselling services, wellness tracking, and stress management tools. By prioritizing employee well-being, companies can see a marked improvement in employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. And this ultimately aligns with the objectives of HR leaders to build a supportive and enduring workplace culture.
Advanced Performance Analytics
Employee performance and talent development are as important as ever—particularly with AI becoming increasingly present in many employees' day-to-day. Performance management tools provide actionable insights into employee productivity, engagement, and skill development. They help in identifying areas for improvement and training needs, ensuring that employees are performing to their best ability and are on a path of continuous growth.
Hybrid Workforce Management Solutions
Cloud HR software is increasingly incorporating features for managing distributed teams. This includes tools for:
- Remote attendance tracking,
- Team collaboration, and
- Streamlined communication.
These solutions help bridge the gap between remote and in-office work environments, ensuring efficient operations irrespective of the physical location of employees.
Compliance Automation and Innovation Balancing
The final trend focuses on balancing compliance with innovation. New cloud HR software is being developed with built-in compliance features for various employment laws and regulations. This assists CHROs in maintaining legal compliance while also fostering innovation within their HR practices. Automated updates and alerts about changing regulations ensure that companies remain compliant without compromising their capacity for innovative HR solutions.
In conclusion, these trends in cloud HR software offer powerful tools for addressing the major challenges faced by HR professionals today. As the workplace continues to evolve, embracing these trends can be a strategic move for any organization looking to enhance its HR practices and maintain a competitive edge.
What is a software cloud?
Are there different types of cloud-based HR software?
How popular are cloud-based HR software systems?
Other HR Software Reviews
Here are a few other cloud-based HR software lists that may also interest you:
- Best HRIS Systems for Employee Data Management
- Best HRIS Systems for Small Businesses
- Best HRMS for Human Resource Management
- Best HRMS for Small Businesses
- Best HR Software List to Boost HR Functions
- Best Employee Management Systems
- Best Cloud Recruitment Software for Hiring Teams
- Best Document Management Systems
- Best Electronic Signature Software for Digital Sign-Off
For a more holistic view of what the HR software landscape has to offer, don't miss our complete guide to HR software
Cloud HR software is on the forefront of HR transformation. By digitizing your core HR processes, you’ll be able to ditch your filing cabinets and say goodbye to your spreadsheets. Instead, you'll gain intelligent data dashboards, increase your efficiency, and improve your overall employee experience.
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