HR Software Featured Image

The 10 Best HR Software To Manage Payroll & People In 2021

It’s no secret that it can be tough to source, attract, retain, and engage a high quality workforce. Your human resources managers do what they can…but they need support. Whether you are looking to automate HR solutions or build a more customizable core HR system, SaaS or on-premise software solutions are one way to support HR managers.

New hire quality increases by up to 70% when you focus on the candidate experience—make things pleasant, engaging, sensical, fair, transparent, and efficient. Your HR team can better achieve this with a robust human capital management system designed to support new employees. 

You might also find that you need performance management, talent management, benefits administrations, time tracking & workforce management, an applicant tracking system (ATS), employee self-service portal, learning management, payroll software, a human resources information system, PTO tracking, employee onboarding, or a custom mix-and-match approach that speaks to your unique needs. 

The best HR software for the modern workplace should streamline processes, ease navigation, and treat people like people—here are my top picks for this year.

Top 10 Best HR Software Tools

  1. Factorial - Best HR software for small business
  2. HR.my - Best HR for startups
  3. Zenefits - Best HR onboarding software
  4. Kronos - Best HR software for enterprises
  5. Rippling - Best HR & IT management
  6. Paycor - Best payroll software
  7. Workable - Best HR recruiting software
  8. Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) - Best HR performance management software
  9. happierWork - Best corporate communications platform

Comparison Criteria 

Here’s what I look for as I’m assessing HR software solutions. 

Workflows Automation: The best part about any HR management software is that it should be able to automate mundane, repetitive administrative tasks to free up your HR staff for higher level thinking and strategizing. 

User-friendly: HR professionals and employees should be able to adopt and learn the platform with ease. The best HR tools will offer system onboarding, online or live training, blogs/whitepapers/FAQs/wikis, and maybe even a tutorial videos for different features.

Integrations: Does the HR tool connect with other workplace software and/or hiring process solutions, like Gmail or Slack (communication), Asana or MS Projects (project management), LinkedIn or Indeed (job boards), Twitter and Facebook (social media), QuickBooks or Xero (payroll processing), and others?

Fair Pricing: A good HR platform will have fair, transparent, and scalable pricing. Ideally, entry-level as well as enterprise plans will be available. Free or paid add-ons for additional functionality is a bonus.

Key Features

Here are the most important HR features I’m looking for when I evaluate the best HR software.

Performance Reviews: Being able to monitor performance goals in real-time and reflect on key performance indicators (KPIs) with your staff is essential.

Employee Records Organization: It should be easy to add, sort, store, search, analyze, tag, and organize all of your employee information for optimized employee management. 

Automating Enrollment: Businesses of all sizes will benefit from certain enrollment actions being automated, whether its orientations & training, benefits sign-up, or other in-house company culture processes.

HR Functions Templates: Whether its job postings, welcome letters, or handbook text, the best tools will have templates that you can customize for people management processes.

E-Signatures: Being able to collect signatures online across the employee lifecycle, from hiring contracts to benefits administration, is a helpful feature for most HR tasks.

Mobile App (bonus): Having a mobile app (or at the very least, a mobile-optimized website) is a huge quality-of-life indicator for the overall employee experience.

People Managing People is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

Overviews Of The 10 Best HR Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the HR Software on my list showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $3/employee/month

Factorial - Best HR software for small business

Visualize and keep track of employee schedules in one view.

Factorial is a super-affordable HR software used by teams from companies like KFC, Century 21, and Booking.com. This tool can handle paid time off (PTO) tracking, time tracking, payroll variations, document management, applicant tracking systems, employee onboarding, and even performance reviews. This makes it a great choice for small businesses.

Factorial also offers an app for employees for iOS and Android. Within the mobile app, employees have access to self-service items like leave requests, the ability to check who’s in/out of the office, birthday announcements, and staff anniversaries. To protect your data, they employ single sign on (SSO), data encryption at rest (AES-256), and a security firewall.

Factorial costs from $3/employee/month and comes with a 14-day free trial.
  • From $5 per month $60 per year

HR.my - Best HR for startups

Users can set up alerts for upcoming leaves, probationary periods, contract expiry, legal document expiry, and more.

HR.my is a multilingual, free HR software with online HR & payroll, expense claims, a leave management system, time clock & attendance, and document management. They offer an app for both iOS and Android smart devices. Signing up for an account entitles you to unlimited data storage and unlimited employee employee profiles.

Startups can leverage HR.my for additional office management systems like employee discussion forums (perfect for a remote or hybrid workforce), feedback surveys on company direction or initiatives, and an easily searchable database of all past conversations and notes. Their free attendance management solution even has selfie and geolocation options.

HR.my is free to use.

  • From $8 a month per employee.

Zenefits - Best HR onboarding software

Manage payroll by setting pay periods, setting up draft payroll, and running payroll.

Zenefits is an HR solution primarily targeting entrepreneurs and employees in small and mid-size businesses. They offer integrated HR, benefits, and payroll services in one streamlined platform. This means that things like PTO requests are automatically linked to payroll, saving administrative and accounting personnel time and energy.

Zenefits has an easy-to-use and comprehensive onboarding system that is entirely online, mobile-friendly, and ridiculously intuitive for the end user. Here, HR managers can create a compensation and benefits package, request a background check, and auto-send offer letters to new hires—to name just a few key features.

Zenefits costs from $18/employee/month (min. 5 employees) and offers paid add-ons for payroll, advisory services, and benefits admin using your own broker ($5-8/employee/month per additional service). They offer a free demo.

  • From $6 per employee per month

Kronos - Best HR software for enterprises

Keep track of employee hours, time-off requests, schedules, and more.

Kronos’ HR suite may seem a bit price-inhibitive but they truly do pull out all the stops for a complete workforce-ready human capital management solution. They can help source, track, and evaluate potential job candidates; optimize staff engagement and satisfaction; automate benefits and compensation administration; and store and track employee information.

Kronos is great for enterprises for several reasons. First, they reduce reporting complexities and automate workforce analysis to better serve large and growing organizations. Second, they minimize compliance risks by supporting proactive compliance with changing labor laws and regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Kronos offers customized pricing upon request. You can expect to pay $5,000+ to get started.

  • From $8 user/month

Rippling - Best HR & IT management

Run payroll for employees with salary, bonuses, commissions, and reimbursement.

Rippling is a unique solution that combines HR and IT management by letting you manage your employees’ payroll, benefits, devices, and apps in one system. Don’t fret, they still do all the core HR basics: payroll, benefits, time and attendance, talent management, risk mitigation, and so on.

Rippling stands out because they build apps and devices management (basic IT) into their HR platform, which is appropriate for the modern, online, all-digital workforce. You will be able to remotely manage and protect employees’ devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets) as well as easily manage workforce apps like Google Workspace, Slack, and Office 365.

Rippling costs from $8/employee/month and you can request a free 30-minute demo of the platform.

  • From $11.15 per user/month

Paycor - Best payroll software

In addition to tracking employee work and hours, users can view overtime by week, month, department, and more.

Paycor is a human capital management (HCM) software used by over 40,000 businesses including the likes of The YMCA, Wendy’s, The Detroit Zoo, and Two Men and a Truck. They provide assorted HR solutions around coaching, development, payroll, and retainment. Users commend easy recruitment tools and intuitive onboarding functions as a few standout features.

Paycor makes payroll easy to set-up and run, leveraging their own tax and compliance expertise to ease your company’s risk management pain points. Their payroll software solutions boasts general ledger integration, employee self-service, powerful reporting tools, and helpful HR resources like templates, law alerts, and how-to guides.

Paycor costs from $11.15/employee/month + an annual processing fee of $25.33/employee/year.

  • Offers one job posting free to try it out
  • From $11.15/employee/month + an annual processing fee of $25.33/employee/year

Workable - Best HR recruiting software

Applicant tracking features assist with sourcing and hiring for open positions.

Paycor is a human capital management (HCM) software used by over 40,000 businesses including the likes of The YMCA, Wendy’s, The Detroit Zoo, and Two Men and a Truck. They provide assorted HR solutions around coaching, development, payroll, and retainment. Users commend easy recruitment tools and intuitive onboarding functions as a few standout features.

Paycor makes payroll easy to set-up and run, leveraging their own tax and compliance expertise to ease your company’s risk management pain points. Their payroll software solutions boasts general ledger integration, employee self-service, powerful reporting tools, and helpful HR resources like templates, law alerts, and how-to guides.

Paycor costs from $11.15/employee/month + an annual processing fee of $25.33/employee/year.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $5.50 user/month

Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) - Best HR performance management software

Set and view employee schedules to ensure all team members are on the same page.

Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) is an HR software company that streamlines human resource management for customers in over 1,200 cities worldwide. Their services are scalable and affordable, making them an appropriate choice whether you have 2 employees or 2000. With them, you’ll getcore HR, leave management, performance reviews, timesheets, and expenses.

Sage HR has a smart, well-built performance management solution with goal and key performance indicators (KPIs) tracking; 360 feedback with inputs from peers, managers, and subordinates; convenient and discreet 1-to-1 meeting scheduling; anonymous web- or mobile-based surveys; and one-click “social media-style” feedback (think: likes/emojis).

Sage HR costs from $5.50/employee/month for the core HR and leave management module. You can try it out with a free 14-day trial.

  • From $50 per month

happierWork - Best corporate communications platform

Employee dashboards provide overviews of the hiring and recruitment process including interview schedules and job requirements.

HappierWork is a complete digital workforce solution for project management, tech stack integration, and HR systems. You can pick between their different solutions:
happierDeck (intranet portal for Google Workspace), happierFlow (automating people processes), and hSafe (single sign-on security).

HappierHR, happierPay, and happierHire are their HR-related solutions. Here, you can employ paperless onboarding offboarding, a time & attendance bot, document management, automated payroll processing, resume parsing, and auto screening for job candidates. You can also build an employee engagement platform and custom dashboard for all corporate communications: announcements, newsletters, smart reminders, and blogs.

HappierWork offers customized pricing upon request. You can schedule a free demo with them.

Best HR Software Summary

Software Overview Free Option Price Site
Factorial Factorial logo Read Factorial features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $3/employee/month Check out Factorial
HR.my HR.my logo Read HR.my features & functionality Not Available From $5 per month $60 per year Check out HR.my
Zenefits Zenefits logo Read Zenefits features & functionality Not Available From $8 a month per employee. Check out Zenefits
Kronos Kronos logo Read Kronos features & functionality Not Available From $6 per employee per month Check out Kronos
Rippling Rippling logo Read Rippling features & functionality Not Available From $8 user/month Check out Rippling
Paycor Paycor logo Read Paycor features & functionality Not Available From $11.15 per user/month Check out Paycor
Workable Workable logo Read Workable features & functionality

Offers one job posting free to try it out

From $11.15/employee/month + an annual processing fee of $25.33/employee/year Check out Workable
Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) logo Read Sage HR (formerly CakeHR) features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $5.50 user/month Check out Sage HR (formerly CakeHR)
happierWork happierWork logo Read happierWork features & functionality Not Available From $50 per month Check out happierWork

Other HR Software

  1. Bitrix24 –  Free open source HR software that is highly customizable, hugely scalable but requires some advanced tech knowledge to get the most out of it.
  2. Zoho – HR cloud software suite and SaaS application with additional first-party solutions for CRM, marketing, sales, customer service, and more.
  3. Collage – Easy to use, all-in-one HR software for small business with a core HRIS solution that costs only $7/user/month to start.
  4. Core – HR software with automation capabilities to reduce admin task overload + iOS and Android apps for on-the-go employee self-service.
  5. Namely – HR, payroll, benefits, and talent management platform best for mid sized businesses of around 25-1000 employees.
  6. ClearCompany – Leading ATS software and talent management with performance management, employee engagement, and workforce planning & analytics.
  7. JazzHR – Award-winning recruiting software for SMBs that starts at just $39/month for unlimited users (a rarity in this software space).
  8. BambooHR – HR software for small businesses with a huge apps marketplace for advanced integration and additional platform functionality.
  9. SutiHR – Integrated multi-sided workforce platform for end-to-end business process management with packages for core HR, talent management, and e-signatures.
  10. HR Partner – A super easy-to-use HR & recruitment platform with affordable pricing for small and medium sized businesses.
  11. OrangeHRM – Custom-built HRIS solutions that can include compensation, culture, talent & people management, and core HR tools.
  12. WebHR – All-in-one HR software available in over 30 languages with a long list of third-party integrations to connect your tech stack from top to bottom
  13. Qualtricks – Modern HR and workforce management platform with drag-and-drop dashboard/widget simplicity plus automated analytics.
  14. Freshworks – Smart and affordable HR software to manage your hiring, onboarding, time-off, employee data, and people workflows in one place.
  15. Gusto – Easy payroll and benefits, access to HR experts, & compliance support for businesses or contract bookkeepers.
  16. ADP – Enterprise-grade payroll and HR that was named a 2021 Customers’ Choice for Cloud HCM Suites by Gartner Peer Insights.
  17. Workday – A modern digital workforce platform for finance, HR, and resource planning with a variety of mix-and-match feature modules.
  18. SAP SuccessFactors – HCM platform with a strong focus on employee experience + a huge marketplace of first-party SaaS solutions that compliment one another. 

Other Types of HR Software

I understand that “HR software” seems like quite a broad category. Here are a few examples of HR software that attend to a specific function or need within an organization.

HR Software Niches

  • HR Software for Onboarding
  • HR Software for Small Business 
  • HR Software for Enterprises 
  • HR Software with Payroll
  • Free HR Software 
  • Open Source HR Software

Recruiting Tools

Employee Performance & Engagement

Scheduling, Timesheet, & Payroll Solutions

Benefits Management & Compensation 

Other HR Resources

HR Software FAQ

What is an HR database used for?

An HR database is used by the HR team to store personal information regarding its employees. It proves to be very useful for organization and security.

What is the typical HR process?

The HR process is:
– Planning & understanding goals
– Assessing the situation
– Forecasting what needs to be addressed
– Implementing
– Evaluation and feedback of the process

Is payroll part of HR?

This depends on the size of the business. With smaller companies, typically they do not have an HR department which in that case, accounts payable will oversee payroll.

However, in larger companies and organizations the HR department will generally enter employee data into the payroll system. In most cases, payroll is classified as a function of HR as it pays and deals with people.

What Do You Think About this HR Software Overview?

What do you think about the HR tools selection on this list? Is there anything you would add or remove? Do you have personal experiences with some of these HR solutions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

Be sure to subscribe to the People Managing People newsletter to keep up with industry trends, thought leaders, and more tool recommendations.

Need expert help finding the right Human Resource Software?

We’ve partnered with the software comparison portal Crozdesk.com to help you find the right solution. Crozdesk’s Human Resource Software advisors can give you independent advice and shortlist software products that best fit your specific needs. Our partnership gives you free access to their tailored software selection advice and community negotiated discounts, taking the hassle out of the research process.

It takes just a minute to submit your requirements and they will give you a call at no cost or commitment. You’ll get custom product shortlists covering the top solutions that best fit your specific needs from their team of software experts (via phone or email) and they can even connect you to your choice of the selected vendors. To get started, please submit the form below: