Looking for a new human resources (HR) software system? Chances are, you’ll want something cloud-based. The good news is, there are many cloud HR software options to choose from if you’re clear on the functions you need.
To help you in your search, I’ve rounded up a list of the top HR management systems that fall into these categories:
HRIS = human resources information system
HRMS = human resource management system
HCM = human capital management [system]
All the systems in this list are cloud HR software solutions that streamline common HR processes. They are powerful tools that help you develop repeatable, customizable, and paperless workflows. They also cut down on data entry and give your employees HR tools to help themselves with common tasks.
Take a look at my list below to find out how cloud HR software can help to modernize your business processes.
The Best Cloud HR Software List
Here’s the list of the best cloud HR software that I’ll cover in this article:
Best all-in-one cloud-based platform for Canadian companies with lean HR teams
Wondering what I look for when selecting the best cloud HR software? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI): I seek out systems with a visually attractive, clean, and colourful interface that makes using the system enjoyable.
Usability: I prioritize systems that are simple and straightforward, making it easy for users at all levels to complete tasks independently.
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.
Value for $: I prefer systems with a transparent price per user, but those details are not always readily available.
Cloud HR Software: Key Features
Here’s a summary of the main features you can expect to find in 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.
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.
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 employees, 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: The ability for employees to update their own personal information and access other details independently without relying heavily on HR staff.
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Overviews of the 10 Best Cloud HR Software
Below you’ll find a brief description of each cloud HR software that explains each tool’s best use case and main features. I’ve also included screenshots to give you a snapshot of the user interface too.
Field workers can easily track their hours and geo locations using Arcoro’s mobile time & attendance app.
Arcoro’s modular, cloud HR software fully digitizes core HR processes including employee data management, benefits management, time & attendance tracking, compensation, and performance management. If you need it, they also have additional modules including an applicant tracking system (ATS), onboarding tools, and a learning management system (LMS) with 80+ common health and safety courses too.
Due to their deep compliance tracking capabilities, Arcoro is a popular HR software choice for safety-conscious industries like construction, manufacturing, engineering and landscaping. Arcoro supports compliant hiring practices by integrating your hiring standards (including affirmative action programs (AAP), equal employment opportunities (EEO), E-verify, and others) into your job postings and candidate screening processes within their ATS. This is further complemented by their drug & background screening option, which is often a requirement for many safety-sensitive positions too.
Many functions within Arcoro’s system are also available as employee self-service modules through mobile devices, including their benefits management and time & attendance offerings. Employees can easily track their hours using their time tracking app while in the field. It can also be used to manage health & safety compliance requirements, like daily health screening questionnaires, or track GPS locations to prevent dishonest time tracking.
Formerly known as BirdDog HR, Arcoro integrates with popular technology platforms including Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, Quickbooks, US.Jobs, ZipRecrupter, and others.
Pricing details for Arcoro are available upon request. You can also request a free demo through their website, or a free HR Assessment to help you determine which modules you need.
HR Cloud’s automated onboarding and offboarding processes are entirely paperless.
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.
Pricing details for HR Cloud are available upon request. You can also request a free demo through their website.
Employees at all levels will enjoy Bob’s cheerful and fun user interface that makes team engagement easy.
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-feature mobile app for Android and iOS as well.
Pricing details for Bob are available upon request. You can also request a free demo or a free trial through their website.
Oyster’s fully-compliant global payroll software processes automatic local deductions, taxes, and contributions no matter where your team is located.
Oyster is a cloud HR platform that helps organizations recruit and hire staff or contractors globally. Their system is used successfully in over 180 countries with built-in tools to manage international payroll, taxes and employment law, plus compliance guardrails for local labor laws to ensure your company receives the legal protection you’ll need when operating in a new territory.
Their digital hiring tools make it easy to hire contractors in any of the 180+ countries they support. A built-in contractor misclassification assessment tool helps determine if you should fill a vacant position with a new employee or a contractor. There’s also a helpful employment cost calculator that can determine the cost of a new employee in any country, including their required taxes and government contributions, plus the Oyster flat-fee, which varies depending on the country you’re hiring in.
Their Oyster Academy is a helpful resource for companies that are new to the international work-from-anywhere scene, including training courses for how to prepare for distributed work, and how to create a company culture in a distributed work environment. An add-on called Oyster Health is also available to secure health insurance coverage for a global workforce under a single company plan.
Pricing for Oyster starts at $399 USD/employee/month. They also have a free Lite plan for up to 2 contractors only – a good option for anyone building a global startup from scratch. You can also request a free demo through their website.
OrangeHRM’s employee data feeds directly into their corporate directory and organizational chart.
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. However, pricing for their full feature Advanced system is available upon request. You can also request a free demo or a 30-day free trial through their website.
BrightHR’s employee profiles reduce the need for endless clicking by compiling key details into rich profile pages.
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 training documents, since you can ensure all your employees are always referring to up-to-date information.
Pricing details for BrightHR are available upon request. You can also request a free demo through their website.
Employees at all levels will appreciate the self-service features built into the Collage platform.
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.
Payroll functions are not included in their Core HRIS package, but a data sync with other payroll software can be added for an additional $3 CAD/user/month. 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 benefits provider for an additional fee of $2 CAD/user/month.
For Collage’s Core HRIS features, the price starts at $7 CAD/user/month, but add-ons to sync with benefits or payroll programs are available for an additional fee. You can also request a free demo or a free trial through their website.
Reduce your HR department’s data entry time with BambooHR’s single source of employee information.
Say goodbye to your filing cabinets – BambooHR’s cloud-based HRIS system is designed to be a single source of employee data that simplifies common HR tasks, saving your business time and money. By integrating all your data points into one system, it’s fast and easy to keep your employee records up-to-date, and run deeper and more meaningful reports on the data.
Their HR system includes core HR features like an applicant tracking system (ATS), preboarding, onboarding and offboarding functions, e-signature capabilities, time tracking and paid time-off (PTO) tracking systems, a performance management solution, and an employee satisfaction module that measures your eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score).
They also have a long list of add-on features that can be configured depending on your needs, such as full payroll processing services, tax filings that are compliant with U.S. federal and state tax laws, year-end forms and many other features. It’s a great platform for small business owners and startups as it can scale over time, as your business grows.
The Employee Self-Service portal gives staff the power to keep their own HR files up-to-date, with the ability to upload documents like health forms, certifications, drivers’ licenses and whatever else they need. Other self-service elements include their intuitive Time-Off Manager, access to an employee directory, and an org chart that updates in real-time. As well, the helpful shared company calendar captures everyone’s vacation days in one place, as well as key dates like birthdays and work anniversaries.
BambooHR integrates with 60+ commonly used programs including Slack, Greenhouse, HireRight, Indeed, Lattice, 15Five, PayScale, Pingboard, NetSuite, Spark Hire, Zapier and many others. They also have an open API that allows for integration with other HR software tools.
Pricing details for BambooHR are available upon request. You can also request a free demo or a free trial through their website.
Zoho People supports shift-based, field-based, mobile and remote workforces with advanced scheduling and attendance tracking capabilities.
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.
Zoho People integrates 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.
Pricing for Zoho People starts at $1.25 USD/user/month for their Essential HR level. You can also request a free demo or a 30-day free trial through their website.
Rise simplifies HR processes with their easy-to-use platform that's customizable for Canadian businesses of any size.
Rise’s People Management platform touts itself as the #1 all-in-one option for Canadian businesses, and it’s easy to see why. Their cloud-based system is easy to customize depending on what you need, and they offer a full suite of core HR modules including people management, payroll, recruiting, onboarding, time-off management, performance management and self-service mobile app access. Add-ons are also available for benefits administration, and scheduling & time-tracking, regardless of which plan you choose.
The thing I like the most about this platform is how functional it is for companies with lean HR teams, or no HR support at all. Platform administrators can easily control which details employees can view and update themselves, eliminating data entry bottlenecks. As well, typical time-draining processes like onboarding and orientation training can be automated using checklists and custom workflows, with self-service functionalities to collect new hires personal information even before their first day.
The simplified workflows continue in their recruitment process, which supports custom pipelines and applicant funnels with drag-and-drop capabilities to move candidates through the process in a snap. Another feature small HR teams will appreciate are the pre-loaded questions in the performance management module, which are proven to generate useful and actionable feedback and support employee growth. Capitalizing on recent performance review trends such as 360 degree reviews, the system also incorporates feedback from peers, direct reports, managers and the employee themselves in the review cycle, with the freedom to customize as you see fit.
One feature I have not seen with many other HRIS platforms is the integration of benefits management within the platform. With Rise, employees can enroll, view their coverage details, and update their personal information without ever leaving the portal. Another exciting bonus is the fact that the benefits management module can be unlocked for free for any Canadian companies using Sun Life as their benefit provider.
Rise integrates with commonly used accounting software including FreshBooks, Xero, Intuit Quickbooks, and Wealthsimple, which allows employees to file their taxes for free using Wealthsimple Tax. As a bonus, for every tax return filed, users will receive a $15 credit to their Wealthsimple Cash account, and Rise will donate a meal to someone in need through Second Harvest.
Pricing for Rise starts at $6 CAD/employee/month for the basic People Management + Payroll configuration. To unlock additional features, custom pricing plans are available. You can also request a free demo or a 90-day free trial of their full-feature model through their website.
Here are a few more options that didn’t make the best cloud HR software list:
Sapling - Best cloud HR software for customizing workflows
Cloud9HR - Best cloud HR tool for payroll and talent management
Connecteam - Best cloud software for employee shift scheduling
Folks HR - Best cloud HRIS system for Canadian non-profit organizations
Sage HR - Best cloud based HR software for talent management and succession planning
intelliHR - Best cloud HR software for performance management
Breathe HR - Best cloud HR management software for leave management - available as a 14-day free trial
Humi - Best cloud based HR software for Canadian employee benefits administration
Cezanne HR - Best HR software for global, multi-lingual organizations
Zenefits - Best cloud HRIS system for benefits management and group insurance
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.
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, increase your efficiency, and improve your overall employee experience.
Since many HR systems are cloud-based, we have a few other software lists that may have what you’re looking for too: