There are so many different HRIS solutions, so making a shortlist of the best for small businesses can be tricky. You want to centralize employee data and streamline HR processes like recruitment, payroll, and performance management, and need the right tool for the job. In this post, I leverage my personal experience dealing with large volumes of employee data and share my picks of the best HRIS for small businesses.
What is an HRIS?
A human resource information system (HRIS) is a digital solution for managing employee data and automating HR processes like hiring, payroll, and performance evaluations. The primary purpose of an HRIS is to streamline and optimize human resource management through digital automation and data organization.
Deel is a global HRIS solution designed for businesses of all sizes. For small businesses and startups, Deel has made their new HR tools free, so it’s an excellent option for onboarding and managing additional help. Deel’s global compatibility lets you hire and manage freelancers and employees from anywhere in the world without having to figure out local laws, tax systems, or international payroll.
The Deel platform includes various elements that make it simple to pay employees and contractors without having to juggle several tools. The user-friendly interface includes features such as contract and stock option management, expense reimbursements, and compliance tracking for every client. Automated onboarding is a great time saver, and the analytics are helpful in keeping track of your HR data.
Employees and contractors can self-manage their pay and personal data, which reduces admin load. The platform provides a polished and consistent payment experience, making it easy to self-serve data changes and set up withdrawals.
Deel integrates with Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, Netsuite, Okta, OneLogin, Quickbooks, SCIM, Xero, Workday, and Workable. They also have an Open API solution that allows developers to build their own connections with the Deel platform too.
Deel offers a flat rate pricing upon request. You can also book a free demo through their website to discuss your hiring needs.
Paycor’s HR platform is designed to help companies eliminate paper-based administrative tasks by automating common workflows. Their unified employee database acts as a single source of information for all employees, and eliminates the need to re-enter data manually.
While it’s technically an HCM (human capital management) platform, Paycor’s Basic service level includes self-service employee onboarding, in-product compliance tracking, document storage, in-house communication options such as a chat feature, company news and mobile push notifications, and a long list of payroll features. Their user-friendly mobile app also gives employees the ability to access their pay statements and tax documents, request time off, view their work schedules, and manage their employee benefits.
This platform is a great option for small businesses because you can start off with the Basic modules, and scale up to add more features when you’re ready, and your budget allows. Paycor embraces this approach and is happy to work with you to tailor their technology to your business needs rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. With their more advanced service levels, you unlock features for talent management, workforce management, and a multitude of employee experience tools such as pulse surveys, goal tracking, and feedback and recognition tools.
Paycor can integrate with a handful of other HR and payroll tools including MyEnroll360, WorkforceHub, TimeDock, Global Shop Solutions, Glassdoor, GoodHire Background Checks, Hubworks, Workforce.com, Zip Forecasting, TimePilot and others.
TriNet is HR software that provides HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. It includes features such as payroll processing, benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, and performance management. It's best for small businesses that need a comprehensive HRIS solution that can streamline their HR processes.
I picked TriNet as one of the best HRIS for small businesses because of its robust features and integrations. It's a one-stop-shop for everything HR-related, making it an ideal choice for small businesses that need a platform to manage their HR tasks effectively. What sets TriNet apart from other HRIS solutions in the market is its focus on small businesses. It's designed to be easy to use and affordable, and it offers a wide range of features that are specifically tailored to the needs of small businesses. Plus, its integrations with other popular tools make it a versatile solution that can be customized to fit your business's unique needs.
Some of the features that make TriNet stand out include its payroll processing and benefits administration capabilities. These features are often the most time-consuming and complex tasks for small business owners, but TriNet takes care of them with ease. Additionally, its compliance management tools help ensure that your business is always in compliance with the latest regulations, which can save you time, money, and headaches down the line.
Its feature list includes payroll processing, benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, performance management, onboarding and offboarding, compliance management, and an employee self-service portal.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Oracle NetSuite, Sage Intacct, BambooHR, Lattice, Greenhouse Software, Carta, and Xero.
Insperity is a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) HRIS (human resources information system) designed for small businesses to manage employee data and HR processes.
I picked Insperity as one of the best HRIS for small businesses because it provides a comprehensive solution for managing HR data and processes in one platform. With Insperity, small business HR managers can streamline employee data management, payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance reporting, compensation, and performance data.
Insperity also provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing HR managers to track and analyze key metrics and make data-driven decisions. Additionally, Insperity provides dedicated support from HR specialists who can offer guidance and expertise on complex HR issues.
Insperity differentiates itself from other HRIS tools in the market by offering a comprehensive solution that combines HR data management, payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance reporting, recruiting, onboarding, and training and development resources in one platform. The platform also provides dedicated support from HR specialists, adding an extra layer of expertise and guidance for HR managers.
Integrations are available with various third-party applications, such as QuickBooks, Salesforce, and ADP. Insperity also has a public API and API dashboard that can be used to configure custom integrations with your existing tech stack.
Justworks is a payroll, benefits, and compliance HR software that has services to support small businesses run a human resources operation.
Its user-friendly interface allows you to easily manage payroll, access employee benefits packages, and track compliance throughout the organization. This tool is particularly useful to small businesses because of the HR support services it offers. As an SMB, you sometimes lack the bodies to execute everything you want. Justworks has a 24-hour full-service support that helps you navigate your HR-related questions. Additionally, they take on the heavy lift of paying your payroll taxes for you.
Justworks also lets your employees enroll in benefit packages of your choosing without messy paperwork. Regarding payroll, you can onboard employees through the platform, letting them set up direct deposit and review company policies in minutes. Once they are set up, the system will notify them every time they get paid.
Features include payroll for salaries and hourly employees, off-cycle payments, 24/7 support, PTO management, online employee onboarding, mobile app for employees, and harassment prevention & inclusion trainings.
Integrations include 15Five, Accurate Background, Bench, Checkr, Culture Amp, Expensify, Found, JazzHR, Lattice, Pilot, Remote, Teampay, Velocity Global, and Zip Recruiter.
Zoho People is a cloud-based HR software platform 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 (human resources management system), 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 log out when they leave.
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.
In addition to Zoho’s own apps (of which there are many!), further integrations exist for Google Workspace and Google Analytics, Office365, Slack, Zendesk, WordPress, Joomla, and payment gateways such as PayPal, WePay, WorldPay and more.
Eddy is an all-in-one HR software solution for managing people, processes and payroll. Their simplified and fully digital processes for onboarding, training, time-tracking and time-off requests eliminate the need for spreadsheets and paper forms, and can save your HR teams between 10 to 15 hours of administrative wrangling per week - a significant amount.
This is a great software option for small business owners with frontline or deskless workers, since new hires can complete and e-sign all their onboarding paperwork digitally on their first day, or even earlier by using their self-onboarding features. Several other notable features that new employees will appreciate are new-hire task lists (which are trackable by managers and HR administrators), and first day messages, so hiring managers can answer all those typical first-day questions before new hires even ask them. This simple feature goes a long way to boosting your new employee’s user experience, by giving them the information they need to show up on day one with confidence.
Another feature I really like is Eddy’s training tracking module, which allows companies to track anything with an expiration or renewal date. Users receive automated reminder notifications so nothing will ever slip through the cracks. This alone is a huge time-saving feature for many industries that require specialized training, licenses or workplace safety certifications. You can also attach copies of certificates to training records, and run built-in reports for an overview of your training compliance in just a few clicks.
Eddy’s HR platform starts at $8 USD/employee/month plus a $49 USD base fee per month. Add-ons are available for payroll, applicant tracking, and HR advisor services for additional fees. There is no free trial available, but you can request a free demo and quote via their website.
Gusto is an all-in-one HR solution with scalable pricing and features that work for smaller businesses with simple salary structures all the way up to complex, sophisticated international teams. Their Core level functions primarily as a payroll system with hiring and onboarding tools, and insurance benefit management support included. Their platform really comes alive at the Complete level, which includes team management tools, performance reviews, PTO management, and employee engagement features.
Hiring teams can submit job postings directly to public job boards using the platform, and also send out personalized offer letters to top candidates. The onboarding process is also supported by a centralized onboarding checklist that streamlines the new hire experience, but can be customized with task delegations to other team members for added support.
In today’s work-from-anywhere world, it’s common to have a global workforce, rather than all employees residing in the same place. Gusto has you covered there too, as it supports payments to international contractors in over 80 countries. As well, it also has a built-in device management tracking system that helps with inventory control, network access, and keeping your company data secure.
The list of integrations for Gusto is very comprehensive, with over 135 options to choose from. Commonly used options include Asana, Bonusly, ChartHop, DropBox, GitHub, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Sage Accounting, Salesforce, Shopify, Slack, Webex, Zipbooks and Zoom.
Say “hi” to Bob, an HRIS platform designed to maximize the employee experience and link employees to your company culture.
Their platform includes all the core features you’d expect in a robust HR system: employee data management and HR analytics, benefits management (beyond simply healthcare coverage), culture tools, a document hub with DocuSign built right in, streamlined time and attendance tracking features, digitized onboarding, a dynamic people directory with a linked org chart, and customizable workflows and reports.
You can also add more advanced features, such as compensation management, a payroll hub, performance management, and people analytics depending on your business needs.
Their user interface is designed with a social media-like feel to get employees excited about engaging with the company. From a central homepage team members can view birthdays, work anniversaries, and interesting stats about other colleagues to help people make connections - an important feature in today’s work-from-home environment.
Their Club View further deepens engagement by sorting the staff directory by hobbies, superpowers, gender pronouns, or other custom categories. Bob also supports company announcements, shoutouts, and emoji-based reactions to help teams maintain a positive vibe. As well, the homepage keeps a log of where staff are (i.e., working remotely, in the office, sick, or on vacation), which is a useful feature for companies with remote or hybrid workforces.
Bob has a long list of 40+ integrations with commonly used programs, including many applicant tracking systems, Azure Active Directory, Google Suite, 360Learning, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zapier and others. They also have an iOS and Android mobile app.
Collage is a great HRIS choice for Canadian businesses as it comes pre-set to Canadian employment standards. Their platform includes all the typical components you’d expect in an HRIS, including self-service employee 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 is available as an add-on 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 fully 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.
Software-specific integration details are not included on their website, though their HR platform can integrate with common payroll systems and benefit providers.
Best free all-in-one HRIS for small businesses
Free demo available
|Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people||Website|
Best for small businesses needing scalability
90-day free trial + free demo available
|From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee||Website|
Best for its robust mobile app
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best comprehensive HRIS for small businesses
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best for small businesses starting an HR team
Free demo available
Best all-in-one platform for shift-based, remote and mobile workforces
30-day free trial
Best HRIS for digitally onboarding deskless workers or training-heavy industries
Free demo available
|From $8/employee/month + a $49 base fee/month||Website|
Best platform for international contractor-based teams
30-day free trial
|From $6/employee/month + $40/month base fee||Website|
Best for fostering employee engagement through a fun, social media-inspired interface
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best for small to medium-sized Canadian companies
Free demo available
Here are a few more worthwhile options that didn't make the best HRIS software for small businesses list but are still worth taking a look at:
Best HRIS for small HR teams looking for time-saving workflow automations
Best for customized, task-based boards with built-in data visualization
Best for intuitive, employee self-service features
Best HRIS platform for employee engagement, wellness and satisfaction
Best employee well-being and feedback module
- Kallidus Sapling
Best for standardizing processes across a distributed workforce
Best all-in-one platform for Canadian companies with lean HR teams
Best HRIS for entrepreneurs and start-ups needing payroll support
Best for Canadian startups needing support with benefits, corporate insurance, and asset tracking
- Ceridian Dayforce
Best platform for industries with complex scheduling and compliance management needs.
Selection Criteria for HRIS Systems for Small Businesses
To create this top 10 list of the best HRIS software for small business owners, I started out with a long list of HRIS systems using recent market data. I then dug into the details of each system to ensure it would cover all the basics a small business would need, without a hefty price tag.
Next, to whittle my choices down even further, I turned to my selection criteria below. This gave me a standardized framework to compare each HR software solution to see how each one stacked up to the next.
Core HR Functionalities
To help you get the best return on your investment, I picked systems that cover a wide range of core HR features. Aside from the obvious management of employee records, I looked for systems that offer features to cover the entire employee lifecycle, from the recruitment process to payroll processing, to talent management and more.
While each HRIS system is unique in its own way, there are some classic components that you’ll find across the list of best HR software. Here's a short list of the main features I assessed to create this list:
- Core HR data management features - a single source of employee data management
- Payroll functions - integrated, tax-compliant payroll management software that removes the need for manual calculations
- Time off & attendance - time tracking for when your employees start and stop work, as well as tools to track 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 - a way to facilitate performance reviews and track employee performance and development over time
- Recruiting & onboarding - an integrated applicant tracking system to screen candidates, streamline the hiring process, and turn candidates into new employees
- Training & learning management - 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 self-sufficiently without relying heavily on HR staff
User Interface (UI)
I selected systems with a visually attractive, clean, and colourful interface that makes it fun for HR pros and staff at all levels to engage with the system. I also assessed the way each HRIS organized their menus, and how their employee information was organized within individual employee records.
I chose systems that are simple, straightforward, and intuitive, making it easy for users at all levels to complete tasks independently. I've found, from personal experience, that systems with an employee self-service portal can really cut down on the number of questions your HR department regularly receives.
I sought out HRIS platforms that integrate with other common HR tools to cover HR features that aren't custom-built into the HRIS system already. Key integrations I looked for, include document management software solutions, single sign-on applications, and work operating systems like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
I chose HRIS systems that offer a reasonable price per employee, with transparent details on how much it would cost to scale up and add more features over time. I also tried to pick systems that offer free trials or demos, so you can get a hands-on sense of the system's ease-of-use before you commit. Budget is a significant factor in choosing an HRIS. However, don't forget to consider the cost-effectiveness of all-in-one HR software solutions that may offer more value.
HRIS Trends for Small Business in 2024
As a small business owner, you might not be on top of all the latest HR trends, but you're always striving to do a good job and keep your staff happy. It can be hard to split your focus between managing paperwork, retaining your existing employees, nurturing your company culture, and ensuring legal compliance—especially if HR isn't your background or your expertise!
Luckily, HR software solutions are continuously evolving to better meet the needs of your business. Here are a few of the trends I'm watching in the HRIS space that are especially beneficial to small businesses:
AI-Powered Compliance Management Features
Small businesses often struggle with staying compliant with ever-changing employment laws. Add to that the manual workload of ensuring paperwork is completed and up-to-date, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. But modern HRIS systems are equipped with features to manage compliance-related tasks, such as:
- Tax filing
- Labor law adherence
- Data privacy regulations
This gives you the peace of mind that you're handling employee data with care and adhering to important regulations, freeing up your mental load to focus on the bottom line of your business!
Employee Self-Service Platforms
Employee self-service features are becoming increasingly popular in HRIS solutions. These systems empower employees to manage their personal information, benefits, leave requests, and even goal-setting and performance management. This alleviates the administrative burden on you, and empowers employees to be more self-directed.
Integrated Performance Management Systems
Many HRIS systems now integrate with performance management software, or offer performance tools themselves. This allows you to track employee performance alongside other data, like their compensation and benefits. Some performance management features I see cropping up in HRIS platforms include:
- Performance review templates
- Goal-setting frameworks, such as OKR features
- Succession planning
These tools help identify employee skill gaps and training opportunities, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
Distributed Workforce Management Tools
With the rise of hybrid and remote working models, HRIS tools that support remote, hybrid, and distributed work models are crucial. Many platforms also act as an employer of record (EOR). This allows you to hire full-time, part-time, and contract or freelance workers globally without setting up a business domain in their location.
Embracing these technologies can lead to more efficient processes, better talent management, and ensured compliance adherence. For businesses seeking to remain competitive and innovative, considering these trends in their HR strategies is not just advisable but essential. Implementing these trends can pave the way for HR to be seen as a strategic partner at the leadership table.
People Also Ask
Still trying to wrap your head around HRIS systems and what they have to offer? These answers to frequently asked questions should help straighten you out:
What's the difference between an HRIS, an HRMS, and an HCM platform?
You’ve likely heard human resources software described as being either an HRIS, HRMS, or HCM platform. While often used interchangeably, those abbreviations mean:
- HRIS = human resource information system
- HRMS = human resource management system
- HCM = human capital management [system]
So what exactly does that mean? In a nutshell, they are synonyms for different levels of HR software that help companies streamline their internal HR processes. The difference between these types of platforms can be found in the level of service they offer.
Out of all three options, an HRIS typically offers the core HR capabilities for the lowest cost. That’s why it’s a great fit for small and medium-sized businesses and startups. The nice thing is, many tool providers build in the ability to add more software modules over time. Therefore, starting with a scalable HRIS is a budget-friendly way to streamline your business processes. You'll avoid wasting money on features you won’t use, while still keeping your options open for future improvements.
Not sure which type of system you need? Check out our comparison of HRIS vs HCM systems for a five-point guide on making that choice.
New to the idea of using an HRIS? To dive deeper into these features, check out our article on the core functions of an HRIS you should consider.
What do HRIS systems cost?
HRIS systems follow a software-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing model, meaning you can expect to pay a monthly fee to use their software. It's similar to a subscription service, but the fee will fluctuate based on the number of active employees you have saved in your employee database.
The HRIS systems in this list were specifically selected with small business owners in mind. That's why they offer more affordable pricing plans, ranging from $1.25 to $12/employee/month. Some systems also come with an additional base fee as well, ranging between $30 to $90/month.
According to recent research, the average cost of using an HRIS system works out to approximately $210/user/month.
Other Resources for Small Business Owners
If you made it this far, I hope you have a more well-rounded view of how the right HRIS can act as a powerful HR solution for your typical in-house processes. Don't let your journey end here though.
Since small businesses have a special place in my heart, I've rounded up a list of all my top resources to help you even more. Take a look at these other top 10 lists too:
- Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses to Recruit Better
- Employee Scheduling Software for Small Business
- ERP Systems for Small Businesses on a Budget
- Free HR Software for SMBs on a Budget
- Free Payroll Software for Tight Budgets
- HRMS for Small Business
- HR Software for Small Business
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Small Businesses
- Payroll Services for Small Businesses
- Payroll Software for Small Businesses
- Recruitment Software for Small Businesses
Other HR Software Reviews
Are you growing rapidly and looking for HR software that scales well? One of these other top 10 lists may be a better fit:
- HR Software: Reviewed & Compared
- Best HCM Software Vendors
- HRMS Software for Human Resource Management
- Employee Management Systems
- HR Management Software
- Cloud-Based HR Software Systems
- HR Case Management Software to Manage Issues & Risks
- Payroll Software: Reviewed and Compared
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