With so many different payroll services for small businesses available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to outsource paying employees accurately and on time, but need to figure out which solution is best. In this post, I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experience using dozens of different payroll services with small teams and projects, and provide my picks of the best payroll services for small businesses overall.
What are Payroll Services?
Payroll services are third-party providers that can process payroll on your behalf. They can help you with a range of payroll-related tasks, like basic payroll processing and bookkeeping, and submitting direct deposits into employee bank accounts.
The primary purpose of payroll services is to free you from time-consuming tasks around navigating compensation management, deductions, and location-specific tax compliances.
Deel is a cloud-based payroll platform designed for businesses of all sizes. For small businesses looking for additional help, Deel lets you hire and pay freelancers and employees from anywhere in the world without having to figure out local laws, tax systems, or international payroll. You also get access to Deel’s HR suite for free, allowing you to manage your entire team with professional and automated tools.
Deel’s platform includes various elements that make it simple to pay employees and contractors without having to juggle several tools. Their user-friendly interface incorporates advanced payroll capabilities such as contract and stock option management, expense reimbursements, and compliance tracking for every client.
Deel is capable of flexible payment terms, allowing businesses to pay contractors on a fixed plan, per-project basis, or pay-as-you-go model. One of its key features is the ability to support multiple payroll cycles, which means businesses can run their payrolls weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Deel’s in-house experts handle all international employee deductions, withholdings, and benefits, including taxes, insurance, and retirement contributions.
Employees and contractors can self-manage their pay and personal data, which reduces admin load. Deel supports major payment channels like Wise, PayPal, Payoneer, and Revolut to offer flexible withdrawal options and reduce unnecessary international transfer fees.
Deel has positive online reviews from clients and their workers, and offers 24/7 online chat support. Employees can securely access their payroll information and perform various tasks, such as updating their personal information, requesting time off, and viewing their pay stubs.
Deel integrates with popular accounting and HR software systems such as Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, Netsuite, Okta, OneLogin, Quickbooks, SCIM, Xero, Workday, and Workable, and has an Open API to support additional custom integrations too.
Deel’s payroll services use flat rate pricing, so you can scale up or down depending on your situation. Deel’s HR tools are completely free for businesses with fewer than 200 workers. You can also request a free demo through their website to discuss your hiring needs.
Papaya Global is a global work operating system (OS) and service provider that offers global payroll, payment, and workforce management solutions for businesses of all sizes. It's designed to help companies manage their international workforce more efficiently by automating payroll processes, ensuring compliance with local labor laws, and providing real-time data and insights.
Papaya Global caught my attention because it's specifically designed for businesses with a global workforce. Their payroll service is available in several styles, giving you end-to-end coverage for paying any type of employee, including contractors, full-time employees, or employer of record (EOR) workers. In addition to their payroll processing services, their team of experts will also help you ensure you're always compliant with local labor laws and payment regulations too, which is crucial when managing employees in different countries.
Papaya's unified platform for managing payroll, off-cycle payments, and workforce data help to streamline these core processes for small businesses. This means you won't have to juggle multiple tools or worry about data inconsistencies. Their team will work with you to automate your payroll process, saving you lots of time in the long run. Their software also incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically audit payroll data and spot anomalies, reducing the risk of errors.
Another standout feature worth mentioning is that Papaya Global assigns a dedicated account manager to every client account. As your main point of contact with Papaya, your account manager is there to provide expert guidance and support whenever you need it.
Integrations are available with HiBob, Namely, Netsuite, Oracle HCM, SAP SuccessFactors, and UKG Pro, allowing you to easily sync your employee data.
Papaya Global's payroll services range from $3 to $12/employee/month depending on the service plan you choose (payments-as-a-service or their full payroll service).
Remofirst is a software that facilitates payroll and benefits management for global and remote teams. It also offers a complete human resources information system (HRIS) and serves as an employer of record (EOR), helping to centralize your HR operations in one platform. Both large and small companies can use the software to manage their payroll, provide employee benefits, and keep track of their international employees and contractors.
The payroll management system allows you to pay employees and contractors in multiple currencies and administer employee benefits like health insurance and financial benefits. The software can help you maintain compliance with international regulatory standards, tax, and labor laws, and the company's team of support staff can help you uphold employment regulations in over 170 countries. You can create locally compliant contracts to onboard your contractors through the same system as your full-time employees.
Managers can get an overview of personnel's details like titles or roles, location, and salary through the software's talent management module. All this information is gated according to access permissions set by admins. In addition to the employee database, the software provides performance-tracking features, regulatory compliance, and candidate hiring and onboarding tools.
Pricing starts at $199/person/month for EOR and $25/person/month for contractors, and the service is available in 170+ countries. A free demo is available.
Rippling is a global payroll solution that enables businesses to pay international employees and contractors wherever they are. The tool allows you to send payment via checks or direct deposit depending on your business set up.
Your employees can use Rippling’s mobile app to check their pay stubs and request time off. You can use the payroll solution to track hourly work based on location, client, or task, and stay on top of employee benefits, and paid time-off (PTO). The software helps you save time by allowing you to use pre-built workflow and payment templates you can customize to your needs.
Rippling integrates with dozens of apps, including 15Five, Checkr, Human Interest, Lattice, Sage, QuickBooks, Wishlist, and Xero.
Rippling costs from $8/user/month and offers a free demo.
Paychex Flex is a payroll company that helps small businesses organize and run their payroll on desktop or mobile devices. The solution also gives business owners the option to submit payroll by phone to one of its specialists, and its voice assist feature enables managers to perform hands-free payroll checks, submissions, and approvals.
Paychex Flex handles your payroll taxes and reports new hires to government agencies. The software tracks your team’s payroll-related information, allowing you to create year-end reports and 1099s with ease.
Paychex Flex integrates with dozens of solutions, including BambooHR, Hubworks, Indeed, JazzHR, Xero, and QuickBooks Time.
Paychex Flex offers custom pricing upon demand and a free demo.
Bambee is a cloud-based HR platform designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. In addition to HR functions, Bambee also offers a guided payroll service to help businesses manage their payroll processes more efficiently.
I included Bambee's payroll service because of its ease of use and affordability. Their services cover a comprehensive set of payroll functions, including 2-day direct deposit, tax filings, and year-end reporting. In addition, Bambee also offers personalized support from HR experts, as well as a dedicated HR manager for every client, making it easier for businesses to navigate complex payroll regulations.
One of Bambee's standout services is their compliance assistance. They provide businesses with guidance on payroll-related compliance issues, such as minimum wage requirements and overtime rules. Bambee also ensures that businesses stay compliant with tax regulations, filing all necessary forms and making timely payments.
Another standout feature worth mentioning is their employee self-service portal. This feature allows employees to view their pay stubs, manage their personal information, and request time off, all without having to contact HR. This saves businesses time and resources and provides employees with more control over their own HR processes.
Integration details for Bambee's payroll software are currently not available.
ADP Workforce Now is a cloud-based human capital management (HCM) solution designed to help businesses manage their payroll, HR, time and attendance, benefits administration, and talent management. ADP Workforce Now is also scalable, meaning it can grow with a small business as it expands, making it a flexible and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.
ADP Workforce Now offers a comprehensive payroll solution that automates and streamlines the payroll process for businesses. It allows businesses to manage and process their payroll with accuracy and efficiency, while also staying compliant with local, state, and federal tax regulations. ADP Workforce Now offers features such as automated payroll calculations, direct deposit, tax filing and remittance, year-end reporting, and pay statements, providing businesses with a seamless payroll experience. Additionally, ADP Workforce Now offers employee self-service options, allowing employees to access their pay stubs, W-2s, and other payroll-related information online, reducing the workload on HR and payroll staff.
ADP Workforce Now automates many time-consuming HR and payroll tasks, freeing up small business owners and HR staff to focus on more strategic initiatives. This can save small businesses time and money, while also reducing the risk of errors. Additionally, ADP Workforce Now provides access to a range of HR tools and resources, including compliance support, employee handbooks, and job description templates, which can help small businesses ensure they are operating in accordance with the latest HR and employment laws.
Integrations include other ADP software and tools as well as third-party options like Quickbooks, Wave, Xero, Workday, Sage, SAP SuccessFactor, 7Shifts, When I Work, JaxxHR, Ziprecruiter, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Bob, DocuFree, and plenty of other options listed in the ADP Marketplace.
ADP Workforce Now costs from $160/month for up to 49 employees and offers a 30-day free trial.
Paycor is a human resources and online payroll software that enables you to simplify your payroll process with automation. The solution integrates with 401Ks and accounting software, allowing you to set up an automated payroll and manage employee benefits without difficulty.
Paycor offers a mobile-friendly self-service portal where your team members can access all their documents and benefits information. The software automatically updates its system when tax laws and employment regulations change in every US jurisdiction, ensuring that your business is always compliant. Paycor’s reporting feature allows you to create reports based on templates. You can also schedule and share the reports directly from within the platform.
Paycor integrates with multiple apps, including CloudPay, Fidelity, HIREtech, Human Interest, Indeed, and Payfactors.
Paycor costs from $99/month plus $5/employee/month. Businesses that qualify can use the solution for free for three months.
Patriot Payroll is a full-service payroll solution that helps organizations manage their taxes, send payments, track time and attendance, and create custom reports. The software helps you run payroll with ease, simply by entering your employees’ hours. Patriot automatically calculates your payroll, and you only have to approve it to send the payments via direct deposits or checks.
This solution enables you to create reports, year-to-date totals, tax filings, or contribution histories with automation. After you complete your tax forms, the software automatically collects your payroll taxes on approved payrolls, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Patriot software integrates with QuickBooks Time and TSheets.
Patriot Payroll costs from $17/month plus $4/employee/month. They also offer a 30-day free trial and a free demo.
OnPay is a payroll software that helps businesses avoid mistakes and save time by handling their federal, state, and local taxes. The solution helps business owners and managers set up and save custom payroll reports so they can track their spending and oversee their team’s activity.
This service provider allows you to schedule unlimited monthly pay runs and automatically handles all your payments and tax filings. The employee self-service portal lets your team members update their information for W-2 and 1099 forms and is available across the United States.
OnPay integrates with multiple tools, including Deputy, QuickBooks Online, TSheets, When I Work, and Xero.
OnPay costs from $6/employee/month plus a $40/month base fee. They also offer a 30-day free trial and free setup.
Run payroll for international contractors from 80+ countries
Track employee hours and access payroll information remotely
Save time when filing taxes with automation
Automate your payroll process and set up direct deposit payments
Manage payroll, bonuses, commissions, and reimbursements with ease
Payroll service provider for Canadian small businesses
Automate your payroll processes and outsource your tax registration requirements in all 50 US states
Best payroll management and general accounting software
Manage international hiring, payroll and compliance from within one platform
Run payroll and create reports for multiple locations
Selection Criteria for the Best Payroll Services for Small Businesses
If you're wondering how I compiled this list of the top 10 small business payroll providers, look no further. I'm happy to explain my methodology.
First, I compiled a long list of payroll systems that also offer additional HR services like bookkeeping and other payroll options. With that in place, I drilled into the details further to ensure each service provider truly offered the services that growing businesses would want.
Lastly, to help me decide on my final selections, I compared each payroll provider against each other using my selection criteria below. And that, my friends, is the process I used to determine the best payroll software and service providers for small business owners.
Here's a summary of the selection criteria I used to determine the best payroll services for small businesses in this article:
As a baseline, I looked for payroll service providers that cover the following basic functionalities:
- Running payroll: Ensuring employees are paid on time, accurately.
- Bookkeeping: Maintaining the paperwork and records-keeping involved with running payroll.
The depth of services provided varies from one payroll company to the next. And the features included in different payroll software can vary, too. Here are some common payroll features and services offered:
- Payroll scheduling: The ability to schedule automatic payroll to run on certain dates.
- Multiple payment options: Like direct deposit, physical paychecks, or even on-demand pay.
- Employee self-service portal: Employees can access their pay stubs and employment documents.
- Time tracking: Clocking employee hours and syncing them automatically with your online payroll services. This could also include managing PTO and time off requests.
- Tax compliance: Ensuring you’re up-to-date on all applicable federal and state tax laws.
- Tax filing: Helping you file taxes locally and federally with the IRS, CRA, or any other relevant governing body. This may also include making year-end tax payments on your behalf.
- Benefits administration: Managing employee health benefits, RRSP contributions, health budgets, and more.
- Reporting: Tools to generate payroll reports and help you track your payroll history.
During my research, I took ease of use into account when I looked at the software provided with payroll services. HR tools should be user-friendly and easy to navigate, and service providers should offer sufficient onboarding to make sure you’re well set up. If you’re outsourcing your payroll needs, you don’t want that to come with a complex new system or unavailable customer support agents.
It’s important that any payroll software will integrate with your other human resource software. I looked for integrations with accounting software like QuickBooks Online and Intuit. I also looked for systems that will sync your employee data from another source, such as a cloud-based human resources information system (HRIS). Any connector that would streamline your HR processes, I took into account.
The cost associated with any new service or software is always something to consider, especially for a small business or startup. Some of the providers on this list offer flat-rate pricing, while others have a cost per user per month. I’ve added pricing information in each overview, and in the comparison chart above.
Payroll Services Trends for Small Businesses in 2024
Being aware of trends in payroll services for small businesses is crucial for HR professionals and payroll specialists to ensure effective payroll management and compliance with evolving regulations. By staying informed about the latest trends, professionals can adopt modern tools and technologies that streamline payroll processes, enhance accuracy, and boost operational efficiency. This awareness enables small businesses to stay competitive in attracting and retaining top talent by offering efficient and accurate payroll services, contributing to employee satisfaction and overall business success. Here are four key trends for 2024:
Automation and AI-Driven Payroll Processing
Automation in payroll processing, utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) not only minimizes time-consuming tasks, such as manual data entry, but also enhances accuracy in payroll management. Other benefits include:
- Compliance: AI algorithms can handle complex calculations and tax withholdings, ensuring accuracy and compliance.
- Time Efficiency: AI automates routine tasks like payroll scheduling, freeing up HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives.
- Error Reduction: AI can help reduces human errors in data entry, enhancing overall payroll accuracy.
By implementing AI-driven payroll systems, you can significantly reduce your manual workload and repetitive tasks, allowing you the time and resources to concentrate on more value-added activities. This can be especially beneficial if you work in small business, as your time and resources are particularly limited and valuable.
Cloud-Based Payroll Solutions
The shift towards cloud-based payroll solutions is a response to the need for data security and confidentiality. These systems offer enhanced security features, regular backups, and the ability to access payroll data securely from anywhere. This trend is particularly crucial for businesses with remote or hybrid work models, providing HR teams the flexibility to manage payroll remotely while ensuring data security. This trends can also be extremely beneficial to small businesses, which likely do not have the resources necessary to deal with a data leak.
On-Demand Pay and Flexible Payment Options
On-demand pay and flexible payment options have emerged as a response to the growing demand for employee-centric benefits. While it is certainly non-traditional, this trend offers a variety of benefits, including:
- Immediate Access to Wages: Allows employees to access a portion of their earned wages before the scheduled payday.
- Employee Satisfaction: Increases morale and loyalty by providing financial flexibility and autonomy.
- Retention Tool: Acts as a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent, especially in a dynamic workforce.
Implementing on-demand pay systems can be a strategic move for HR Managers to boost employee engagement and loyalty, making it a valuable addition to employee benefits packages. Moreover, while it may seem like a risk for small businesses, its impact on employee satisfaction and retention still make it a worthwhile strategy to consider.
Enhanced Compliance Features
With constantly changing payroll and labor laws, enhanced compliance features in payroll services are a must. Modern payroll systems are equipped to stay updated with the latest tax laws and regulations, ensuring businesses remain compliant. This is particularly crucial for small businesses, who cannot necessarily afford the legal fees associated with making tax mistakes.
For People Ops professionals, HR managers, and business leaders in small businesses, these emerging trends in payroll services offer strategic solutions to their most pressing challenges. Adopting these trends can not only make your job easier, but can also help position your small business for success in a competitive landscape.
What are the benefits of payroll services?
There are plenty of reasons why payroll services are beneficial for small businesses. Payroll services take some of the pressure of running a company off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on growing your business. They help you avoid legal difficulties by filing your taxes on your behalf. Simply put, they ensure you’re managing payroll properly at your small business.
Another benefit that some payroll software and service providers offer is the ability to hire employees globally. Employer of record (EOR) tools and global payroll solutions are opening up opportunities for small businesses to hire top talent in other countries.
And perhaps most importantly, payroll services enable you to pay your employees on time. And this is crucial to forming an effective team. By helping you create and respect a payment schedule, payroll services make it easier for you to build an effective team that propels your business to the next level.
How much do payroll services cost?
Naturally, the cost of payroll services will vary by provider and the depth of the services they offer. In general, for basic payroll services, you can expect to pay a flat monthly fee ranging between $19 to $99/month plus an additional fee ranging between $4 to $25/employee/month.
Some payroll service providers offer more advanced HR support services such as international or global payroll. For that type of advanced or complete payroll service, you can expect to pay a bit more. The cost is typically between $199 to $499/employee/month with no additional fees.
These are some rough numbers to give you a ballpark. But some services and software have paid add-ons and other additional costs. So make sure you really research the price point before signing up.
While there are no free payroll services, there are some free payroll software options. Keep in mind, you’ll still need to run a software solution. On the other hand, a service provider handles everything for you. You can automate your payroll process with one of these software tools, but it still won’t completely run itself.
A Payroll Service Helps You Focus On Growing Your Business
By investing in a payroll service for your small business, you’re investing in your people. It shows your staff that getting them paid on time and accurately is important to you. And not only that, it frees up your time for important tasks like strategic planning, product development, and meeting with your team members. For those operating in industries with complex compliance requirements, specialized payroll software can offer more targeted solutions.
If you want to receive advice on how to run a small business directly in your inbox, subscribe to the People Managing People newsletter.