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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.

Detailed Overviews of the 10 Best Cloud HR Software

Below you’ll find detailed descriptions of my top 10 cloud HR software selections that highlight each tool’s best use case and main features. I’ve also included screenshots to give you a snapshot of the user interface too. Plus, there are 10 additional cloud-based options below, if you’d like even more choices to consider.

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
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Rating: 4.8/5

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.

Best cloud HR software for talent management + employee experience

  • 90-day free trial + free demo available
  • From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
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Rating: 4.1/5

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.

Best hybrid workforce management with comprehensive compliance tools

  • Free demo available
  • From $39/month + $5/employee/month
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Rating: 4.2/5

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.

Best cloud-based software that covers the full employee lifecycle

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.6/5

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.

Best all-in-one cloud platform for managing variable workforces

  • 30-day free trial
  • From $1.50/user/month
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Rating: 4.3/5

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.

Best cloud HR software for customizing workflows

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.3/5

Sapling’s cloud-based HCM (human capital management) platform (now part of Kallidus) allows HR teams to automate common HR tasks from onboarding to offboarding and everything in between.

Their HR tools simplify tasks using auto-assigned workflows, email scheduling, and alerts which can be customized for different locations, departments, or employee types to standardize processes. This is a useful feature for companies with distributed teams as it helps HR managers regulate processes across all work locations and departments. Their system also comes with pre-built reports to analyze any type of data that’s stored in the system.

Helpful features to improve your employee experience include colour-coded org charts by location, department, or custom groups, an employee directory, and customizable employee profiles to help reflect your company culture and core values. HR teams will appreciate the system’s ability to track job-related data such as promotions, salary adjustments, relocations, and other historical changes. The system also supports paid time-off (PTO) tracking, including customizable PTO policies for different groups.

Sapling integrates with 50+ leading HR, IT, and productivity systems including JazzHR, Lever, Workday, ADP, Paylocity, 15Five, Lattice, OneLogin, Greenhouse, Okta, Zapier, the Google Suite, Slack, Lessonly, ChartHop, Jira, LinkedIn, and many other platforms.

Best cloud HRIS for automations and document management

  • Free trial + free demo available
  • From $4.08/user/month
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Rating: 4.3/5

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.

Best free cloud-based HRMS software, available via open source

  • 30-day free trial + free plan available
  • From $6/user/month
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Rating: 4.1/5

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.

Best cloud HR software for engaging and connecting hybrid teams

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.5/5

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.

Best cloud HR software for digital onboarding and offboarding processes

  • Free demo available
  • From $6/user/month

HR Cloud is a suite of flexible modules for common HR functions like recruiting, onboarding and offboarding, time tracking, time-off requests, employee engagement, and performance management.

They also have an HRMS (human resource management system) module in their higher service tiers that supports custom forms and workflows, email alerts, checklists and task tracking, and advanced reports. They’re a common choice for customers in the manufacturing, healthcare, technology, retail, and food & beverage industries, and are currently used by large companies like Toyota and Peloton.

Their cloud-based system includes a fully automated and digitized onboarding process with customizable forms and checklists to get your new hires up and running quickly. As well, HR Cloud can incorporate I-9 and E-Verify forms, including the ability for new staff to sign off on all their paperwork using digital e-signatures.

New employees can also access their detailed employee profile pages, even before their first day, to start populating their experience, expertise, and personal interests. Similar to their onboarding process, HR Cloud also has a digital offboarding process too, including an offboarding checklist, and a digital exit interview.

HR Cloud integrates with 35+ software solutions, including ADP, Glassdoor, Greenhouse, Indeed, JazzHR, Lever, Microsoft Office 365, SAP SuccessFactors, Slack, Staffbase, Twilio, Quickbooks, Yammer, Zapier, ZipRecruiter, and others.

The 10 Best Cloud HR Software Systems: Quick Comparison Chart

This comparison chart summarizes basic details about each of my top cloud HR software selections. You can view pricing details and the availability of free trials or demos side-by-side to help you find the best HR software for your budget and business needs.

Tools Price
Deel Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people
Paycor From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Paychex Flex From $39/month + $5/employee/month
ClearCompany Pricing upon request
Zoho People From $1.50/user/month
Kallidus Sapling Pricing upon request
BrightHR From $4.08/user/month
OrangeHRM From $6/user/month
bob Pricing upon request
HR Cloud From $6/user/month
Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Compare Software Specs Side by Side</h2>

Compare Software Specs Side by Side

Use our comparison chart to review and evaluate software specs side-by-side.

Compare Software

Other Cloud HR Software Options

Here are a few more options that didn’t make the best cloud HR software list:

  1. Cloud9HR

    Best cloud HR tool for payroll and talent management

  2. Collage HR

    Best cloud HR for small to medium-sized Canadian companies

  3. Rippling

    Best cloud HR software for workflow automations and software integrations

  4. BambooHR

    Best cloud HRIS system for employee self service

  5. Factorial

    Best cloud HR platform for employee well-being and feedback module

  6. Sage HR

    Best cloud based HR software for talent management and succession planning

  7. Rise

    Best all-in-one cloud-based platform for Canadian companies with lean HR teams

  8. Arcoro

    Best cloud HR software for compliance and health & safety focused industries

  9. Oyster HR

    Best cloud HR platform for international recruiting and payroll management

  10. Zenefits

    Best cloud HRIS system for benefits management and group insurance

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.

Key Features

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:

  1. User Interface (UI): I sought out systems with a visually attractive, clean, and colourful interface that makes using the system enjoyable.
  2. Usability: I prioritized systems that are simple, straightforward, and user-friendly, making it easy for users at all levels to complete tasks independently. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Pricing: I prefer systems with a transparent price per user, but those details are not always readily available.

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.

People Also Ask

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about cloud-based HR software and how it works:

What is a software cloud?

When related to software, the term “cloud” describes systems that operate remotely via the internet. They’re managed through a series of web servers that run applications and store data on your behalf. The original software developers are also responsible for ongoing system maintenance.

Another term for cloud software is SaaS (software-as-a-service), a popular software subscription model. As well, the term “on-demand” is sometimes used interchangeably, since cloud software is always available.

The opposite of cloud-based systems are “on-premise” systems. On-premise systems run locally on your computer or company network. Since they are not a one-size-fits-all solution, they can often be customized for specific business needs. The flip side is, your in-house IT support needs are likely to increase.

If you’re looking for something to help you organize all your workplace apps, take a look at my list of the best SaaS management platforms for some solid options.

Are there different types of cloud-based HR software?

There certainly are. For the purpose of keeping this list focused, I selected cloud-based HR systems that fall within the realm of HR management systems. Within the HR management software space, you’ll find the following sub-categories of software:

  • HRIS = human resources information systems
  • HRMS = human resource management systems
  • HCM = human capital management [systems]

Beyond that, there other types of cloud-based software systems too. Popular types include online payroll software, cloud recruitment software, document management systems, and electronic signature software, among others.

How popular are cloud-based HR software systems?

According to Verified Market Research, 70% of the HR software market is comprised of cloud-based HR software. This includes HCM, HRMS, HRIS, and other types of talent and workforce management systems. Industry experts are projecting a compound annual growth rate of 11.12% between 2021 and 2028.

In a separate 2021 study by the Information Services Group that surveyed 260 companies, 46% of respondents confirmed they were currently subscribing to a SaaS platform, with 57% expecting to have subscribed by 2023.

Other HR Software Reviews

Here are a few other cloud-based HR software lists that may also interest you:

We also have tips on HR Software: What it Costs and How to Decide What’s Best for Your Company, plus HRIS vs HCM Systems: The 5-Point Guide You Need to Make the Best Choice.

For a more holistic view of what the HR software landscape has to offer, don't miss our complete guide to HR software

Final Thoughts

Cloud HR software is at 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.

Lastly, be sure to subscribe to our People Managing People newsletter covering industry trends in HR leadership.

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By Kim Behnke

Kim Behnke is an HR Tool Expert & Writer for People Managing People. She draws on her 9 years of human resources experience and her keen eye for systematic processes to support her analyses of the top HR tools on the market. She is passionate about maximizing efficiencies and streamlining workflows to ensure internal systems run smoothly. Kim's HR experience includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and development, policy development and enforcement, and HR analytics. She also has degrees in psychology, writing, publishing, and technical communication, and recently completed a Certified Digital HR Specialist program through the Academy to Innovate HR. When away from her desk, she can usually be found outside tending to her ever-expanding garden.