With so many different payroll solutions available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to automate employee payments and reduce errors, but need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I make things simple by leveraging my experience with both large and small teams using dozens of different payroll tools to bring you this shortlist of the best payroll software overall.
What is Payroll Software?
Payroll software is a tool that allocates employee pay based on hourly rates or annual salaries. It's used by HR and finance teams to track employee work hours, pay rates, vacation accruals, paid time-off, payroll taxes, payroll deductions (like federal and local taxes), and more.
The primary purpose of payroll software is to streamline paying employees accurately and on time while ensuring tax compliance.
Deel is a global payroll platform that's available in over 150 countries. It allows you to hire anyone as a contractor or employee without worrying about local laws, complicated tax systems, or international payroll.
Why I picked Deel: I chose this software because of it provides end-to-end global workforce management, including contract adjustments, expense reimbursements, and off-cycle payroll adjustments. You can schedule payments in advance and run off-cycle payroll whenever needed. It was also noteworthy that the company has local country experts working in-house to run global payroll and ensure all regional contributions are accounted for. Their team provides 24/7 online support, and dedicated account managers are available for specific requests.
Deel Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features I noticed were the software's 10+ payment options, ranging from bank transfers to cryptocurrency pay-ins. What makes this stand out from other options is that employees and contractors can self-manage their pay and personal data, and use providers like Wise, PayPal, Payoneer, and Revolut for easy international withdrawals.
Integrations include Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, NetSuite, Okta, OneLogin, QuickBooks, Xero, Workday, and Workable. The software’s open API can support additional custom software integrations.
- Add-ons available to localized benefits and global payroll
- Detailed dashboards
- Knowledgeable support staff
- Contract templates could be simplified
- Limited invoice customization
Papaya Global is an online payroll solution that helps companies remove barriers to global hiring. Their software provides end-to-end global workforce management with everything from onboarding to cross-border payments in over 160 countries.
Why I picked Papaya Global: This software covers all employee options (payroll, EoR, contractors) and can be used to send payments securely to remote and global personnel. I chose it because of its various payroll packages, which make it a flexible option for various business sizes and needs. The reporting and analytics tools offer detailed payroll and business intelligence, and give you a real-time view of your funds. Payment delivery is also guaranteed within 72 hours by the company.
Papaya Global Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include that its bank rails were built in partnership with JP Morgan and Citibank, which makes me confident in their reliability and compliance standards. Payroll anomalies and issues can be detected with the software’s artificial intelligence capabilities, which automatically notifies admins so they can address the problem swiftly.
Integrations include most financial tools, and HR software like BambooHR, Expensify, NetSuite, SAP SuccessFactors, and Workday. An API is also available to support additional custom integrations.
- Strong automation features
- Extensive knowledge base
- Payments can be made in virtually any currency
- Employee profiles could be more detailed
- No mobile app is currently available
Remofirst is a payroll software that provides users with a secure, efficient, and easy-to-use platform for managing payroll processes. Users can input employee information, calculate taxes, and generate pay stubs. The software offers many features, including employee self-service, direct deposit, tax compliance, and reporting.
The software provides tools for managing employee shares and dilution, as well as for issuing specialized reports on equity and bonus activity. Its reporting feature allows users to generate detailed reports on their payroll data which can be generated for a specific period. The cost calculation feature helps businesses budget costs effectively by considering various factors, including the number of employees, the type of benefits provided, and the frequency of payments. Employees can also view their equity and bonus information in real time, and the system automatically calculates vesting schedules and payout dates.
Remofirst lets businesses manage employee benefits programs with ease. Users can track employee eligibility, enroll employees in benefits plans, and even change existing plans. It also allows businesses to generate employee enrollment and participation reports. Dashboards summarize team distribution and spending with visual graphs and charts.
Remofirst can also manage payroll and invoicing for businesses with employees abroad. The software automatically generates accurate paychecks and invoices in the local currency and tracks employee vacation days, sick leave, and expense reimbursements. Remofirst sends invoices every month, ensuring your employees are paid on time. Users can access a dedicated account manager and Remofirst's knowledge base to troubleshoot any issues.
Paycor is a human capital management solution with payroll, workforce management, and employee experience features. The payroll product can handle payroll, expense management, time and attendance, and more.
Why I picked Paycor: Once I set up payment options for employees, I was able to use the automation features to run my payroll automatically, as scheduled for a specific day and time. Multiple payment options are available through the software, including direct deposit, paycards, or on-demand pay. It also provides in-depth compliance feedback to help you respect the employment laws in your state. Because of its robust functionality, I think it's best suited to large and enterprise businesses.
Paycor Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include its pay-on-demand feature, which allows employees to access their earned wages before their next official payday. I thought this was a modern functionality. It's also convenient that expense management, scheduling and time tracking, and employee experience monitoring are all also available in the platform.
Integrations include several other tools for wage and salary verification, expense management, employee wellness, certified payroll, and FMLA. Key software systems to note include Certify, ESR, Payfactors, and WageWorks.
- Mobile app allows for payroll management on the go
- Live and on-demand product training and industry webinars
- All-in-one solution well suited to enterprise businesses
- UX can be a little clunky at times
- Time cards are a bit simplistic
Paychex Flex is a cloud-based payroll and human resources management software designed to help businesses of all sizes manage their payroll processes, employee benefits, and other HR-related tasks. It's a comprehensive solution that aims to simplify and streamline the entire payroll process, making it easier for businesses to stay compliant with tax regulations and ensure their employees are paid accurately and on time.
Why I picked Paychex Flex: Paychex Flex enables you to track your team’s daily hours, manage time sheets, approve PTO, and oversee benefits in one place. The solution offers a self-service portal where employees can access digital copies of their pay stubs, see their contributions, and manage their retirement accounts, making it easy for them to access their data.
With Paychex Flex, you can schedule your payrolls and approve them before payday with ease. You can schedule multiple runs in the same pay period, and you can oversee your work on the mobile app. The solution also gives you access to extra HR features as add-ons for additional fees.
Paychex Flex Standout Features and Integrations
Features include payroll processing, payroll tax filing, a garnishment payment service, paycheck preview and approval, new-hire reporting, and a mobile app.
Integrations include Ashby, BambooHR, Clover, Deputy, HIREtech, iCIMS, Indeed, Oracle Netsuite, QuickBooks Payroll, and others.
- Helps you save time with payroll filters and saved views
- Knowledgeable representatives
- 24/7 specialized service for US clients
- Automatically creates multiple subfolders, making it difficult to find the right files at times
- Adding pay categories could be easier
Bambee's cloud-based HR software is specifically tailored for small and medium-sized businesses. Their software covers a wide range of functions, including onboarding, compliance, and employee termination. They also offer a guided payroll service, which is available as an add-on.
Why I picked Bambee: I included Bambee's combined payroll software and expert services 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.
Bambee Standout Features & Integrations:
Features include 2-day direct deposit, integrated compliance monitoring, and automatic federal, state, and local taxes. They also provide businesses with guidance on payroll-related compliance issues, such as minimum wage requirements and overtime rules too. Their employee self-service portal also allows employees to view their pay stubs, manage their personal information, and request time off, all without having to contact HR, saving businesses time and resources.
Integration details are currently not available.
Trinet is a global payroll and HR software and service provider. It can help your organization manage various HR operations including payroll and employee benefits administration, performance and learning management, and risk mitigation.
Why I picked Trinet: I picked this platform because its payroll capabilities can handle complex regulations in several countries, making it suitable for global organizations or businesses operating in multiple locations. It can also manage worker's compensation claims, retirement plans, and employee benefits packages. Time tracking is included, which connects exact employee hours with their pay.
Trinet Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features are definitely the software's compensation benchmarking capabilities, which stood out to me in my testing. The data is verified by Salary.com and covers 15,000 different job titles and 225 industries, helping you craft a better, more competitive compensation structure.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Oracle NetSuite, Sage Intacct, BambooHR, Lattice, Greenhouse Software, Carta, and Xero.
- Company provides HR consulting as well as software
- Centralizes all of your HR processes in one platform
- Global payroll management for multinational businesses
- Full functionality may not be needed
- Robust system, comes with a learning curve
ADP TotalSource is an all-in-one HR platform that offers payroll capabilities as well as benefits administration, hiring, and onboarding. HR services are also provided with the software from a team of experienced professionals.
Why I picked ADP TotalSource: It's nice when both employees and managers can easily gain access to the right payroll information, which is why I picked this software. Employees can access their paystubs and change personal information such as home addresses and direct deposit details from their self-serve portal. Managers, meanwhile, can monitor employees’ time and attendance, view current leave balances, create project codes for work activities, enter payroll data, and generate reports on overtime hours. The payroll module helps you process payroll and ensures compliance with local tax laws with a dedicated team of HR specialists.
ADP TotalSource Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include its automation capabilities for the entire payroll process, which I see as a real time-saver. You can calculate employee wages and taxes, create reports, and ensure compliance with federal and state laws automatically. The system can even send you automatic reminders when new laws are enacted or taxes are due, helping you stay up-to-date and compliant with the latest legislation.
Integrations include ClearCompany, ClockShark, Deputy, JazzHR, Lever, Microsoft Teams, NetSuite, QuickBooks, Sage, SAP Success Factors, Slack, Workday, and Xero, among others.
- Robust functionality suitable for enterprise businesses
- Friendly, easy to use interface for employers and employees alike
- Admins can make adjustments to information as needed
- ADP offers many products, which can be confusing
- Setup can be time consuming
Insperity is a Human Capital Management (HCM) solution that provides both software and services for various HR functions. Payroll, admin, benefits, compliance, and talent management are among the company's offerings.
Why I picked Insperity: This software offers all of the standard payroll features like local, state, and federal tax filings, direct deposit payment processing, and online pay stubs for employees. But I picked it for the list because it also has employee time tracking that connects with payroll processing, and reporting capabilities to help you track your payroll operations. It's also a complete HCM platform, meaning it can be used for recruitment, employee onboarding, and performance management.
Insperity Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include the fact that this software comes hand-in-hand with expert HR services. I think this is a great feature for SMBs seeking guidance on their HR operations and help you ensure compliance. The software also has garnishment tracking capabilities, which covers things like student loans and child support orders.
Integrations can be configured with the software's public API and API dashboard.
- Benefits brokering included
- Software and services combined
- All-in-one people management platform
- Only available to US companies
- May not be ideal for those with in-house HR teams
Justworks is a cloud-based payroll software designed to streamline payroll and benefits administration for small and medium-sized businesses.
Why I Picked Justworks: I picked this software because of its time tracking capabilities and its flexibility for paying both hourly rate and salaried workers. Employees can log their hours by project or job code, and add notes to provide more context or detail. Managers can then review and approve timesheets in bulk or individually, and the hours are automatically synced with the payroll system to ensure accurate payment. The software also provides real-time visibility into employee hours, so managers can track employee performance and ensure compliance with labor laws.
Justworks Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include that it covers both payroll and benefits administration. I was impressed to see that it covers health insurance, 401(k) plans, and other benefits. Another feature that sets it apart is its compliance support, which helps you stay up-to-date with changing regulations and avoid costly penalties.
Integrations include 15Five, Accurate Background, Bench, Checkr, Culture Amp, Expensify, Found, JazzHR, Lattice, Pilot, Remote, Teampay, Velocity Global, and Zip Recruiter.
- PEO services included with all plans
- Local, state and federal tax filing
- Unlimited off-cycle payroll runs
- Only available for US-based organizations
- Limited customization options
Best for global teams, with fully managed payroll services
Free demo available
|Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people||Website|
Best end-to-end workforce management in 160+ countries
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 managing employee equity and bonus payments
Free demo available
|From $199/employee/month for EOR and $25/mo for contractors||Website|
Best payroll software for automating manual payroll tasks
90-day free trial + free demo available
|From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee||Website|
Best for streamlining payroll processing with accuracy, compliance, and ease
Free demo available
|From $39/month + $5/employee/month||Website|
Best software and services for ease of use and expert guidance
Free demo available
Best payroll software with compensation benchmarking
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best manager and employee self-service features
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best payroll management software and services combined
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best payroll software for both salaried and hourly employees
Free demo available
Other Online Payroll Options
Here are a few more options that didn’t make the best online payroll software shortlist. If you need additional suggestions for software to help you run payroll, check these out:
- ADP Workforce Now
Best scalable payroll software for small businesses
Best payroll software for niche industries
- Patriot Software
Best basic payroll software for US companies
Best full-service payroll software including hiring and onboarding
Best payroll software for early wage access through paycards
Best payroll software with integrated HR and benefits
Best all-in-one payroll software solution for SMBs
Best payroll management software for outsourcing
Best payroll software for Canadian-based small businesses
- QuickBooks Payroll
Best payroll software for small businesses
- Knit People
Best payroll software for startups
Best for USA and Canada-based payroll with tons of integrations
- Buddy Punch
Best payroll software with integrated employee time-tracking
Best payroll software for employee self-service
Best payroll and benefits for international teams
- Oyster HR
Best payroll software for hiring in 180+ countries
Best solution designed by Canadians for Canadian SMBs
Best global payroll provider with add-ons for applicant tracking and performance reviews
- Humanic Payroll
Feature-rich applications that address the needs of your payroll department both domestically and internationally.
Easy-to-use payroll software that is desktop-based and is available for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X.
Selection Criteria for Payroll Software
Curious how I created this list of the best payroll software? I'm happy to explain my process. I started by examining recent payroll software market data to create my long list of payroll providers to dig into. Next, I scoured all the details available to uncover the best features each payroll system included, to see how each one compared to the rest.
To satisfy your curiosity even further, here’s a summary of the selection criteria I used to develop this top 10 list of payroll software:
As I explored these software systems, I made sure they provided full-service payroll functionality. This includes the ability to send out employee paychecks, provide digital pay stubs, organize contractor payments, and manage your payroll tax filings. I looked for these functionalities because having a more automatic payroll system is really the main goal of implementing a tool.
These are the payroll software features I looked for in each payroll platform:
- Payroll processing: The software must be able to process your employee’s pay, and ensure they’re paid accurately and on time each pay period.
- Tax filing: Most platforms can deduct taxes as required by the locations in which they're available. They can usually also send out year-end tax forms to employees.
- Payroll reports: Tracking your payroll tax and other deductions and employee pay over time is usually included.
- Data management: You might be able to maintain an employee database in the software. This holds information like their emergency contact, social insurance number, and payment details.
- Unique payment options: This might be unlimited payroll runs or pay-on-demand options to make payments between designated pay days.
- Time-tracking: Especially for hourly workers, having timesheets and scheduling built into your payroll system can really streamline your processes.
- Compensation management: This includes being able to track different pay rates (salary, hourly, overtime, vacation pay, PTO, etc.). Is can also mean tracking salary increases over time.
- Employee portals: Portals allow employees to access their own pay-related data on a self-service basis. They can sometimes also facilitate time off requests or expense reporting.
- Analytics: Dashboards, graphs, and reports to analyze payroll data to gather insights about your staff. These analytics support your organization’s workforce planning efforts.
Payroll software offers many built-in tools to meet regional employment laws and regulations. Some also facilitate worker’s compensation and compliance with government bodies like the IRS or CRA. Here's a list of the main compliance-related features I looked for when building this list of the best payroll software:
- Tax withholdings and filings, including at the federal, state, and local level
- Overtime payment calculations that comply with federal, state, and local laws
- Employee classification tools to determine if a worker should be an employee or independent contractor
- Accurate historical record-keeping for payroll and benefits administration, as required by laws
- Wage garnishment and deduction tools that comply with legal limits
- Equal pay and anti-discrimination monitoring tools
- Leave entitlement accrual tracking that complies with legal requirements
- Year-end tax reporting tools
- Compliance with data security and privacy regulations, e.g., GDPR and others
I favor payroll tools that can be adopted by anyone, from large businesses to nonprofits. So I looked for payroll software that comes with onboarding, training materials, and an easy-to-access customer support team. These types of usability features are listed in my product overviews.
User Interface (UI)
Payroll is just one of many HR and accounting duties, so I've selected software that respects your time. By that, I mean options with a simple and intuitive UI that puts business-critical information front and center. I’ve included notes in my overviews about how user-friendly each software is.
Many online payroll services provide other various HR features and functionality. Even so, it's still helpful when payroll software integrates with your other HR software. This could include an HRIS like BambooHR, tools for employee benefits administration and health insurance. It could also be time and attendance tracking software like Clockify or Harvest. Many online payroll services do provide other various HR features and functionality, or are themselves part of a broader employee management system. Every software overview has a list of its integrations.
Value for Money
Scoring high in value for price might mean going above and beyond in payroll features. That could be things like garnishments, industry pay rates analysis, tax compliance, and timesheets. Some platforms also have various add-ons or provide expert HR support, which can help them stand out for their value. As a baseline, payroll software with basic features will cost between $10 and $100 per month, plus a per-employee fee ranging from $2 to $12.
Payroll Software Trends for 2024
If there's one aspect of People Management that absolutely everyone cares about, it's making sure that payroll is working properly. Therefore, staying aware of the latest payroll software trends is crucial.
These trends not only streamline operations but also address key concerns for HR professionals, from hiring and employee retention to ensuring compliance with various labor laws. Here are four emerging trends that resonate with the needs and challenges of People Ops leaders:
AI-Enhanced Payroll Processes
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing payroll software by automating routine tasks, reducing errors, and saving time. This trend can directly tackle efficiency challenges by enabling you to focus more on strategic decision-making rather than administrative tasks. AI-driven payroll systems can also predict and manage staffing needs, which is especially valuable for industries with fluctuating workforces like healthcare.
Integrated Talent Management Systems
Integrating payroll software with broader talent management systems is a great way to streamline HR processes and reduces duplication of efforts, enabling smoother change management. Other benefits include:
- Seamless Data Flow: Integration ensures uninterrupted data exchange between recruitment, performance management, and payroll.
- One-Stop Solution: You can manage the entire employee lifecycle within a single system.
- Efficiency and Consistency: This integration enhances operational efficiency and decision-making consistency.
Try to seek payroll solutions that offer comprehensive integration with other HR modules to enhance overall efficiency and adaptability.
Enhanced Data Security and Compliance
This trend addresses the vital need for balancing compliance with innovation, ensuring payroll processes remain both secure and compliant with labor laws. This is particularly crucial in heavily-regulated industries, like finance. This trend can additionally offer:
- Advanced Security Features: Modern payroll systems now include robust security protocols to protect sensitive employee data.
- Regulatory Compliance: These systems are regularly updated to comply with the latest employment and data protection laws.
- Peace of Mind: HR leaders can be assured of the integrity and legality of their payroll processes.
Pro-tip: Prioritize payroll systems with strong security and compliance features to safeguard operations and maintain legal compliance, especially if you work in a regulated sector.
Mobile Accessibility and User Experience
The shift towards mobile accessibility in payroll software caters to the increasing trend of remote and hybrid work environments. It can simplifies payroll management for both your HR team and the employees with which you work by addressing the need for streamlined business processes and enhancing the user experience. Despite seeming like a small detail in the grand scheme of your business, payroll software accessibility is crucial for retaining employees and maximizing performance in dynamic work settings.
These four trends in payroll software are shaping the future of HR management. They offer actionable solutions to the challenges faced by HR leaders, from enhancing efficiency and compliance to decreasing employee turnover. As the landscape evolves, staying updated and adaptable to these trends will be key to building long-lasting, innovative organizations.
What are the main benefits of using payroll software?
Who uses payroll software?
What is the most popular payroll software?
How much does payroll software cost?
Which payroll software is best for small businesses?
What is same-day payroll?
What's the difference between cloud-based vs. on-premise payroll software?
What integrations are the most important for payroll software?
What data security features are included in payroll software?
Other Payroll Software Reviews
Want to check out our other reviews related to payroll software? Here are a few more:
- Automated Payroll Software
- Payroll Software for CAD Businesses
- Payroll Software for Small Businesses
- Payroll Services for Small Businesses
- Free Payroll Software
Modernize Your Payroll Process
There are plenty of payroll software options available, and each one is a bit different from the next. That's why understanding the core functionality of these platforms equips you to pick the right one for your business needs.
Your payroll software will be a foundational pillar in your suite of HR tools, so it's important to choose wisely. As John Boitnott, Inc. journalist, said:
"Money isn't the only thing that motivates someone to perform well at their job, but it certainly factors in heavily."
That's why it's worth it to invest in advanced payroll software that satisfies all your business needs, including compensation and salary benchmarking features.
Stay in Touch
Before you go, stay in touch by subscribing to our People Managing People newsletter. We cover everything from how to master your payroll challenges, to how to develop modern compensation packages to retain your top talent. Plus, it's delivered to your inbox for free each week.
If you're interested in taking things one step further, consider joining our People Managing People community. By signing up, you'll join a community of like-minded people leaders who are passionate about building happy, healthy, and productive workplaces.