There are so many different payroll software for small businesses, so making a shortlist of the best can be tricky. You want to issue paychecks, save time, and reduce errors to simplify compliance—and need the right tool for your business and team. In this post, I share my personal experience as an HR expert using many different payroll platforms with small teams and bring you my picks of the best payroll tools.
What is Payroll Software?
Payroll software is a tool that helps manage employee compensation and related financial tasks. This includes calculating employee wages and deductions, generating pay stubs, and processing direct deposits.
Payroll software also integrates compliance management features to eliminate the need to decipher complex payroll regulations. It's invaluable in giving your HR lead the tools they need to compensate your employees fairly.
Deel is a payroll platform designed for businesses of all sizes. For small businesses looking for additional help, Deel lets you hire and pay freelancers and full-time 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.
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 incorporates features such as contract and stock option management, expense reimbursements, and compliance tracking for every client.
Employees and contractors can self-manage their pay and personal data, which reduces admin load. Deel uses major payment providers 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. The company offers 24/7 online chat support.
Integrations are available natively with Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, Netsuite, Okta, OneLogin, Quickbooks, SCIM, Xero, Workday, and Workable.
Papaya Global is a payroll software for small businesses that helps companies remove barriers to global hiring. Papaya’s automated, SaaS platform provides an end-to-end global workforce management solution, from onboarding to cross-border payments in 160+ countries.
The platform supports all employee options (payroll, EoR, contractors), integrates with all management tools, and uses smart technology to ensure compliance and eliminate errors. It creates a highly visible system for tracking payroll spending and real-time business intelligence (BI). Papaya Global can help any company simplify global people management. Businesses can access Papaya’s state-of-the-art automation, security, and BI without replacing their existing payroll system.
Papaya Global integrates with most financial tools, as well as with BambooHR, Expensify, NetSuite, SAP SuccessFactors, and Workday.
Paychex Flex is an online platform that helps small businesses manage payroll and other HR functions. It allows employers to manage everything from calculating employee paychecks to managing employee health benefits and tracking time off requests. Users can access their accounts from anywhere, ensuring they always have access and control over their data. The platform offers features such as tax filing and compliance services, paperless onboarding tools, and employee self-service options.
Paychex Flex makes it easy for employers to track employees' hours worked and leave taken through its automated time-tracking feature. This ensures that employees are paid accurately according to the hours worked each week or day and any applicable overtime rates or vacation days taken off work. The software supports multiple payment methods for both direct deposit and paper checks. Additionally, it allows users to quickly generate reports on employee wages, salaries, overtime payouts, and deductions taken from wages, enabling businesses to stay compliant with local laws and regulations.
Paychex Flex helps simplify the filing process by automatically calculating all federal (IRS) and state tax requirements to ensure accuracy when filing returns. It also allows small businesses to make timely payments while avoiding late fees or penalties due to delayed filings or incorrect data entry.
The employee self-service portal feature allows employees to access their account information securely online without contacting HR for assistance. Employees can log into their accounts to view pay stubs, update personal information such as address changes, or view the status of benefits enrollment.
Paychex Flex integrates with popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online so employers can sync their payroll data across multiple systems for greater accuracy and convenience.
Paychex Flex protects users against online negligence resulting in a data breach, such as a hacker accessing confidential employee or customer information. Its cyber liability insurance helps small business owners protect themselves from potential public relations or litigation costs from the incident.
Remofirst is a payroll software that helps employers quickly generate accurate paychecks, direct deposit payments, and tax filings. In fact, you can completely outsource your payroll processing needs to Remofirst, making them a worthy option for companies that do not have the resources or expertise to handle payroll processing internally.
Their software helps businesses manage their payroll processes remotely, including managing employee information, tracking employee hours, and processing payroll payments. Remofirst provides a convenient way for users to pay their employees through transfers directly into their employees' bank accounts, eliminating the need for paper paychecks and saving money on check-writing fees. Their self-service employee portal gives staff access to their payroll information online, including pay stubs, W-2 forms, and year-end tax information. They can also update their contact information and banking information.
Remofirst offers businesses a central platform for distributing and managing employee benefits, allowing users to easily add, remove, or update employee benefits and view and collect benefit usage statistics. Payroll reports can be customized to show specific information, such as employee compensation and taxes, and can be generated for a particular period. They can be exported to various formats, making it easy to share with accountants or other team members. Remofirst also automatically sends invoices per month with complete reports detailing payroll expenses.
Remofirst’s team of experts offers 24/7 support to help users resolve any payroll issues immediately. Compliance documentation is also always accessible via your dashboard, making it easy to comply with international HR regulations at all times.
Bambee is a comprehensive HR and payroll platform designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers a range of payroll features, including direct deposit, tax filings, and year-end reporting, as well as HR functions like onboarding and employee management.
Their payroll software includes a full suite of payroll functions and HR tools, which are typically found in more expensive systems. Moreover, their user interface is easy to navigate, and the software requires minimal training, making it perfect for small business owners who may not have an HR or accounting background.
One of Bambee's standout features is its HR compliance support. The platform provides personalized guidance from HR experts, helping businesses navigate complex HR regulations, including those related to payroll. It also provides businesses with access to a library of customizable HR documents, such as offer letters and employee handbooks.
Another standout feature is the self-service portal for employees. This feature allows employees to view their pay stubs, request time off, and update their personal information, freeing up HR staff from answering routine questions and tasks.
Integration details are currently not available.
RUN by ADP is a small business payroll provider that helps you automate recurring payroll and file payroll taxes. The software also calculates benefits and retirement deductions, and flags potential errors to make sure you remain compliant when filing federal or local taxes.
Thanks to its automation features, RUN enables you to process invoices and run your payroll in a timely manner, so you can focus on your growing business. You can also set schedules for your team, see when they clock in and out of work and attach notes to shifts.
One of the good things about using this solution is that the system automatically keeps track of your team’s work and calculates everything for you. The automated payroll system ensures that you pay employees and file taxes on time, so you can save time managing this aspect of the business.
RUN by ADP integrates with many popular software systems, including Absorb LMS, Avionte, ClearCompany, Clockshark, Deputy, Dolce, FinancialForce, Infor, JazzHR, Oracle, PayActiv, PlanSource, QuickBooks, Replicon, Sage Intacct, SAP SuccessFactors, Sapling, TempWorks, Wave, When I Work, Workday, Xero, ZipRecruiter, 7shifts Restaurant Scheduling, and many more.
Paycor is a human capital management solution with powerful analytics and payroll features. The platform helps small businesses with employee onboarding, performance reviews, time and attendance, and benefits management.
Paycor’s payroll solution provides in-depth compliance feedback to help you respect the employment laws in your state. Thanks to the software’s automation features, you can set up the payroll with ease. And once you set it up, you can schedule it to run automatically on a specific day and time.
One of the good things about using this software is that it offers multiple payment options. You can pay employees using direct deposit, paycards, or on-demand pay. You can set up different pay options for your employees and have them run in the background. Their pay-on-demand feature, in particular, is a great help for employees who need to access their earned wages before their next official payday.
This tool also has a mobile version. Your employees can use the mobile app to review their pay stubs, approve timecards, and communicate with one another.
Paycor integrates with a variety of solutions, including Certify, Payfactors, Pay Solutions, ESR, WageWorks, and others.
OnPay’s full-service payroll software helps entrepreneurs manage payroll, HR functions, and benefits all in one place. Their software includes a full suite of payroll services and compliance settings for all 50 states. For no additional cost, they also offer special payroll services for certain industries like restaurants, farms and agriculture, churches and clergy, and nonprofits. As well, OnPay offers great customer service, with platform specialists available to help you set up your payroll process and automate your taxes, even if you don’t have any previous experience with this kind of software.
To get your business up and running as fast as possible, new business owners will appreciate the free employee handbook and HR templates that are included in the platform. Essential HR tools such as automated onboarding flows, employee personnel files, document storage with e-sign capabilities, compliance audits, paid time-off tracking and task management features are also included.
Their team of licensed in-house insurance brokers also help small businesses set up health, dental and vision plans with top providers such as Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare. Once in place, benefit costs are synced with payroll, which means you won’t have to worry about capturing any cost fluctuations yourself. Another interesting feature is their 401k integration that automatically supports employer matching and profit sharing options, and can garner small businesses extra tax credits.
OnPay integrates with Deputy, Magnify, Mineral, PosterElite, QuickBooks, When I Work, Xero, and with the 401k retirement platforms America’s Best 401k, Guideline, and Vestwell.
Patriot Payroll is an online payroll service provider that helps small businesses grow on a budget. Their software includes free payroll setup, free 2-day direct deposits, and free USA-based customer support. They also offer an add-on for time & attendance tracking, which links employee work hours directly to your payroll processing module, plus an add-on for HR software if you don’t already have a digital employee database.
Patriot’s full-service payroll platform acts as a concierge for US-based businesses and takes care of their local, state and federal taxes. The company’s customer service team also reaches out if they need more information to file your taxes, so you don’t have to worry about them yourself. Their system also includes a whole host of easy-to-access payroll reports covering tax credits, tax filings and deposits, payroll registers, paycheck histories, time off reports, W-2 summaries, payroll tax liabilities, and more.
The highlight of using this payroll service provider is its effectiveness. The tool is simple to navigate and use. Their information database is comprehensive, so you can get a detailed guide on how to complete your tax files, and their customer support service is always there.
Patriot integrates with Intuit QuickBooks Online, GoCo, Plaid, Workforce.com, and WorkforceHub Time & Attendance.
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software designed for businesses to manage their finances, including payroll, invoicing, and expense tracking. It's a popular choice among small business owners because it's easy to use, offers a wide range of features, and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
I chose QuickBooks Online as one of the best payroll software for small businesses because it offers a comprehensive set of features that cater to the unique needs of small businesses. It's user-friendly, making it easy for business owners with little to no accounting experience to manage their finances. Plus, it's cloud-based, which means you can access your financial data from anywhere, at any time.
QuickBooks Online automatically calculates your employees' paychecks, taking into account their hours worked, deductions, and taxes. This saves you time and helps ensure accuracy. You can set up direct deposit for your employees, making payday a breeze for both you and your team. Your employees can access their pay stubs, W-2s, and other important documents through a secure online portal, reducing the amount of paperwork you need to manage. The software also helps you prepare and file your payroll tax forms, ensuring you stay compliant with federal and state regulations.
Integrations include over 400 business apps like Rewind Backups, Knowifiy for Customers, Plooto, Expensify, Fathom, BigCommerce, Verify, Insightly CRM, Mailchimp, and others.
Best for managing global payments and compliance for growing international teams
Free demo available
|Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people||Website|
Best payroll software for small businesses looking to hire globally
Free trial available
|EOR from $650/employee/month or $2/contractor/month; Global payroll from $3 to $12/employee/month||Website|
Best payroll software for automatic tax calculations & cyber liability insurance
Free demo available
|From $39/month + $5/employee/month||Website|
Best payroll software for small businesses wanting 24/7 payroll support
Free demo available
|From $199/employee/month for EOR and $25/mo for contractors||Website|
Best all-in-one payroll and HR software for small businesses
Free demo available
RUN Powered by ADP
Best payroll software for automatically calculating deductions
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best payroll software for flexible payment options, including pay on-demand
90-day free trial + free demo available
|From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee||Website|
Best full-service payroll software for entrepreneurs or startups
30-day free trial
|From $6/employee/month + $40/month base fee||Website|
Best basic payroll software and tax services for US companies
30-day free trial
|From $4/employee/month + $17/month base fee||Website|
Best for managing contractor payments and built-in expense reports
30-day free trial
Here are a few more worthwhile options that didn’t make the best small business payroll software shortlist:
Best full-service payroll software for local, US businesses
Best payroll software for customizable reminders and notifications
Best for managing employee payroll, tax compliance, and benefits administration
- Ceridian Dayforce
Best payroll software for a user-friendly payroll dashboard
Best full-service payroll solution for small businesses
- Knit People
Best payroll software for startups
Best payroll management outsourcing for small businesses
- QuickBooks Payroll
Best hassle-free accounting and payroll software for small businesses
Best payroll software for combining domestic and international payments
- Buddy Punch
Best for integrated time-tracking and employee self-service features
Best payroll software for employee self-service
- Oyster HR
Best combined global payroll and benefits platform for international teams
Best payroll software for Canadian small businesses
Best payroll system that uses automations to reduce payroll errors
Best payroll and workforce management solution for time tracking and tax compliance
Best full-service HR software for tracking employee activity in real-time
Best online payroll solution for unlimited payroll
Best employee management solution for a speedy payroll process and accessing business loans
Selection Criteria for Payroll Software for Small Businesses
Curious how I built this top 10 list of the best payroll software for small business owners? I'm happy to explain my process.
First, I evaluated and compared a long list of payroll systems with positive user ratings from human resources professionals. Next, I dug deeper into the details to ensure each system really covered the basics a small business would need, without a hefty price tag. Finally, I compared each remaining payroll provider in more detail using my selection criteria below to see how each one stacked up to the next.
I also drew on my years of personal experience supporting internal payroll needs to add more expertise to my assessment.
To further satisfy your curiosity, here's a summary of the main details I evaluated to create this top 10 list:
- Core payroll functions: Of course, every payroll software must include the basics, like direct deposit, multiple pay rates (regular, overtime, double time), wage garnishments, tax deductions, and unlimited payroll runs.
- Modern payroll features: Some payroll systems are more advanced than others, and include modern options like same-day or next-day payments and pay-on-demand.
- Automation: The software should enable you to automate large portions of the payroll process, so you can run payroll without errors in good time.
- Information database: The tool should provide enough information to help you stay compliant with local and federal tax laws when completing your tax forms.
- Reporting: The solution should offer an in-depth view of your expenses, so you can make informed business decisions.
- An employee portal: The tool should make it easy for your team to access and update their information and keep track of their pay stubs through an employee self-service portal.
- Real-time calculations: The software should calculate your expenses in real-time, so all the information is up-to-date when you run payroll.
- Compliance management: The software should automatically ensure you’re paying your employees within the confines of the labor laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, including specific overtime rules.
For more on this topic, check out my article on 8 Key Payroll Software Features + 3 Bonus.
A straightforward, clean, and uncluttered user interface (UI) is essential for payroll software since the payroll process is already complicated enough. You don't want a system that's overly complicated, requiring you to drill down endlessly to access employee information. That's why I carefully assessed the UI of each software provider I included in this list to ensure their UI was easy-to-use. To do that, I paid close attention to their menu design, and how easy it was to access key features.
Even though usability is closely tied to a system's UI, I prefer to assess it separately. To assess a system's usability, I paid attention to the level of customer support, tutorial, or training materials that each vendor provides. It's also important to consider how usable a system is for your different user groups, including your HR professionals, accountants, bookkeepers, managers, employees, and even new hires. All of them will use or access your payroll system in one way or another. And all of them should be able to master the software after a short training and onboarding period.
Often, payroll software providers include more than just payroll options and features in their software. Some systems do include integrated tools for time tracking, or for managing employee benefits. However, software integrations are key to helping you get the most out of whichever payroll option you choose.
For payroll software in particular, it's crucial that your system integrates with your HR management system to capture any changes to your employee information. Integrations with time-tracking software are also a plus since your timesheet data won't need to be reconciled manually before you run payroll.
Often, the decision to invest in new software (or not) comes down to the monthly price. This is even more true for small businesses that need to accomplish all the standard aspects of payroll while working within a limited budget. I selected the software providers in this list with transparent pricing at the top of my mind. In general, you can expect to pay a monthly fee ranging between $4 to $25 per employee, per month. Many systems also charge an additional fee (base fee) ranging between $19 to $99/month.
I also included several global payroll options in case you're to grow your business internationally. For a global payroll provider, you can expect to pay more since they'll be handling a lot more compliance and tax regulations on your behalf.
Payroll Software for Small Business: Trends for 2024
Working for a small business, you might think you don't have the time or the resources to explore new trends. However, having limited resources as a small business is exactly why you should be keeping aware of trends, especially for payroll. After all, payroll software is not just a tool for managing payments but a strategic asset. Keeping up with the latest trends allows small businesses to leverage new technologies, automation features, and streamlined processes to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of their payroll operations. This can save time, reduce errors, and improve overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
Here are four current payroll software trends that can help your small business run more efficiently and effectively:
Integration with Holistic HR Systems
Integrating payroll with broader HR systems is a great way to streamline business processes and increase operational efficiency by gathering a wide range of HR processes and data into one platform. This can be especially helpful for small businesses, as it reduces the number of platforms that your organization needs to purchase, and ensures more efficient processes to free up your team's time. Other benefits include:
- Holistic Integration: Merges payroll with recruitment, performance management, and benefits administration.
- Unified Management: Provides a cohesive view of employee data, improving decision-making.
- Strategic Efficiency: Facilitates compliance and innovation, which crucial for People Ops leaders.
Try to find a payroll system that meets your needs and offers a comprehensive HR integration to simplify processes and enhance strategic decision-making.
Enhanced Data Security and Privacy
Enhanced data security in payroll systems is crucial in the era of remote work, as more sensitive information is being communicated and stored digitally. Data security is especially important for small business that perhaps do not have the resources necessary to deal with a major data leak or the subsequent repercussions.
- Robust Security: Implements advanced measures to safeguard data against breaches.
- Privacy Compliance: Ensures adherence to evolving data protection laws.
- Trust Enhancement: Builds confidence among employees and management regarding data safety.
Prioritizing payroll solutions with strong security features to protect sensitive data and maintain compliance can also help your team foster a workplace culture of trust, which can improve teamwork and employee satisfaction.
AI-Powered Analytics and Reporting
AI-driven insights in payroll systems can help identify patterns in employee compensation, predict future payroll costs, and optimize budget allocations. Such data can be crucial for strategic decision-making and performance optimization, especially for small businesses that may not have the time or man-power to track such patterns manually. Using AI-powered analytics and reporting features can help your payroll software to serve a dual purpose: it doesn't just ensure that your employees are paid, but it also offers strategic business insights with no extra effort from your team.
Employee Self-Service Portals
Payroll software now often includes employee self-service portals, which enable staff to access payslips, tax documents, and request leaves independently. Using employee self-service portals helps to streamline HR processes, empowers employees to manage their own compensation, and reduces administrative workload on HR teams. These factors can, in turn, help foster a more engaged and self-sufficient workforce and free up time for your HR team to focus on more complex issues.
These four trends in payroll software represent significant advancements for small businesses and startups, as they can help you do more with less. While you certainly don't have to try trends that you don't think are relevant to your business, implementing at least some these trends could be a game-changer in the way you manage payroll and HR processes, making your company more efficient, secure, and data-driven and maximizing how you use your resources.
What are the benefits of payroll software for small businesses?
What does small business payroll software cost?
What payroll system is best if I don't have dedicated payroll staff?
What are payroll taxes?
Other Resources for Small Business Owners
To help you in your journey to run a successful and profitable small business, here's a collection of our other top resources you should also check out:
- Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses to Recruit Better
- Employee Scheduling Software for Small Business
- ERP Systems for Small Businesses on a Budget
- Free Payroll Software for Tight Budgets
- HRIS for Small Businesses to Manage HR Data
- HRMS for Small Business
- HR Software for Small Business
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Small Businesses
- Payroll Services for Small Businesses
- Recruitment Software for Small Businesses
Simplify Your Payroll Process With Software Solutions
Running a small business is complex. There are a lot of things an owner should look out for. But one of the most complicated aspects of being a small business owner is running the numbers and filing your taxes.
Payroll software solutions can help you simplify this aspect of your business. Thanks to modern automation, you can set up the payroll and run it in the background, so you can focus on growing your business.
Delegation is important for business managers. Beth Schneider, president of Process Prodigy, said “Delegation is about handing over authority, and for many small-business owners, that's a scary concept because you don't know what will happen when you give up control. But the good news is, delegating doesn't have to be scary-you have more control than you think”.
And when you delegate your payroll process to a software solution that helps you avoid costly mistakes, you increase the effectiveness of your business.
Other Resources for Payroll Pros
Have more questions about payroll software? Our ultimate payroll software guide covers everything you need to know. I also recommend reviewing our complete payroll administration guide, as well as our checklist to run payroll successfully.
Or, if you'd like to get payroll out of your hair completely, you could outsource it to a payroll company instead.
For even more help choosing the best HR software, check this our list of the best HR software companies to keep an eye on today.
Lastly, for hands-on tips to help you improve your business processes, subscribe to our People Managing People newsletter too. We cover everything from payroll to improving employee engagement, and how to motivate your employees to reach their full potential. Plus, it's delivered to your inbox for free each week.