People are at the heart of your business, so managing them well is crucial. That’s why finding the best HR software for your team is so central to your success.
Relying on manual processes and disjointed spreadsheets (or even pieces of paper) just won’t cut it — and could even land you in legal hot water when it comes to collecting and storing personal data.
But we get that finding the best software solution can be time-consuming and daunting with so many options out there, all with different features and specialties — especially if you’re not an HR specialist and just want to get on with running your small business.
That’s why in this post, we’ve done the legwork for you. We cover:
- The key features to look for in HR software
- What each software solution is best for
- An overview of ten of the best HR software platforms for small businesses
Best HR software for small businesses and what features to look for
When choosing a good HR software solution for your business, we recommend looking out for the following features:
- All-in-one solution — The best HR platforms will make your life easier, not more complicated. We recommend looking for an option that has as many features as possible, like scheduling, payroll, timesheets, hiring, and team communication.
- Integrations — Even the best HR platform can be made even more powerful with integrations with other tools to offer it even more functionality. Check the integrations your software of choice has built in before making your decision.
- Free options and cost — A software solution’s price is likely an important factor in your decision. Consider if the platform you’re considering has a free plan available and whether its pricing is reasonable for your company size.
- Devices — Small business employees are rarely in one place all the time. Most hourly workers are constantly on-the-move, so it makes sense to choose a platform that works on a variety of mobile devices, including smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, desktops, and POS systems.
- Reporting — The best HR tools not only keep track of employee performance but also offer actionable insights and produce analytics on no-shows and attendance to help you make data-based decisions.
- Documentation management — No HR software solution is complete without the ability to collect and store internal documentation, processes, and paperwork easily and securely.
- Access to certified HR experts — The best HR platforms offer access to experts. Homebase connects you with live human resources professionals who can answer your burning questions and help you vet documents and processes.
Our top pick for HR software for small businesses in 2023 (+ the rest compared)
Of course, we truly believe Homebase offers the best solution for small businesses in 2023, not only because of its HR features, but also because we’ve got an all-in-one platform that lets you manage other crucial team management tasks, too — like scheduling, communication, and staff happiness.
But as an owner who’s looking for the most useful, time-saving tool for your business, it makes sense to check out the rest of the competition, too. That way, you can be sure you’re making the best, most convenient, and most suitable choice to save you time, money, and hassle. Let’s take a look.
- Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
- Rippling: Best for international teams
- BambooHR: Best for scaling companies
- Gusto: Best for employee benefits management
- Keka HR: Best for building company culture
- Bob: Best for gaining team insights
- Zenefits: Best for staff benefits management
- Personio: Best for managing data
- Sage HR: Best for efficiency
- When I Work: Best for simplicity
Comparison chart: Top 10 HR software for small businesses in 2023
|✓||✓||✓||Some employee happiness features||✓||✓||Plans range from free to $99.95 per location per month (plus save 20% if you commit to an annual plan).
Homebase payroll costs $39 per month base fee and $6 per month per active employee.
|✓||✓||✓||✓||X||✓||Starts at $7 per user per month, depending on the product you want.|
|✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||BambooHR doesn’t publish its pricing publicly.|
|✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||From $40-60 per month. Price on request for Premium.|
|✓||X||✓||✓||✓||✓||From $500 per month for up to 100 employees.|
|✓||✓||X||✓||✓||✓||Bob doesn’t publish its pricing publicly.|
|✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||From $8-21 per month per employee, plus add-ons from $6 per month per employee.|
|✓||✓||✓||X||✓||✓||Personio doesn’t publish its pricing publicly.|
|X||✓||✓||X||✓||✓||From $5.50 per employee per month.|
|X||✓||X||X||X||✓||From $4-$8 per user per month.|
1. Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
Homebase’s goal is to make human resources simple, so you can get on with running the rest of your business. Described as “HR for people who don’t do HR,” our tools are designed to keep your team organized and help you easily manage their documentation, personal time off (PTO), and qualifications. Our platform also ensures your business complies with local regulations and laws and lets you manage records safely and without stress.
- Automate policies, PTO requests, timesheets, and records.
- Secure employee information storage, including emergency contact and payroll details.
- Save notes about employee performance, timekeeping, and no-shows.
- Keep on top of when staff certifications expire.
- Automated welcome packets for new team members.
- Manage time off scheduling, policies, and sick leave.
- Coordinate PTO with timesheets for seamless scheduling and payroll calculations.
- Stay compliant with labor and overtime laws and get notified if rules change.
- Full HR support, resources library, guides, and access to an HR expert to review your policies.
- Integrations with other leading tools for even more powerful features.
Pros and cons
Homebase is a one-stop shop for managers and staff with all features you need to manage a workforce, including scheduling, hiring, document storage, and PTO management. Users praise its “ease of use” and great customer service. However, you may not need all of the tools it offers if you’re looking for a platform that only does basic human resources tasks.
- Basic: Free. Track hours and manage schedules. Includes messaging. One location, unlimited staff.
- Essentials: $24.95 per month per location. Everything in Basic, plus performance tracking and team communication.
- Plus: $59.95 per month per location. Everything in Essentials, plus PTO tracking and budget tools.
- All In One: $99.95 per month per location. Everything in Plus, as well as HR and onboarding tools.
2. Rippling: Best for international teams
Rippling offers a range of HR products, including its cloud-based human resources platform, and focuses on automation to make managing people operations easier.
- Onboarding tool for easy new hire management.
- Offboarding feature for seamless exits.
- Management and localization of international data, including currencies and legislation.
- Payroll management and calculations.
- Timesheets and attendance calculation.
- Employee benefits management.
- Training tool for easy staff learning.
- Staff surveying and feedback analysis tool.
Pros and cons
Rippling is cloud-based and can easily manage international legislation. Users like the “intuitive user interface” and the simplicity of the onboarding process. However, some report “laggy service and processing delays” and poor customer service.
- Starts at $7 per user per month, depending on the product you want.
- Products and add-ons include global payroll, time and attendance tracking, PTO and benefits management, learning portal, hiring, and applicant tracking.
3. BambooHR: Best for scaling companies
Founded in 2008, BambooHR bills itself as a human resources platform that aims to simplify every step of employee management. It includes a range of automations and a hiring portal, plus automated data insight reports and tools to keep track of staff engagement and well-being.
- HR data and reporting with automated workflows and pre-built analytics.
- Hiring and onboarding tool with applicant tracking.
- Employee experience and performance tracking to improve company culture and engagement.
- The ability to run payroll with automated time and benefits processes.
- Time tracking and benefits recording, including employee well-being reports.
- Integrations with other leading tools for extra features.
Pros and cons
BambooHR users mention they like the platform’s simplicity and how you can “view multiple pieces of information” on a single screen. However, some say they wish the app had more features and was more “customizable.”
BambooHR doesn’t publish its pricing publicly and instead invites you to request a free quote.
4. Gusto: Best for employee benefits management
Gusto aims to make supporting your team easy and is especially focused on employee happiness and productivity. It has a wide range of popular features and also lets users manage health and financial benefits, as well as linking human resources tools with payroll and timesheet tracking.
- Employee benefits tools, including broker integrations, health insurance administration, workers’ compensation, cash accounts, a paycheck splitter, commuter benefits, and budgeting and insights.
- Hiring and onboarding, including custom job posts and a tracking system.
- Talent management with performance reviews, feedback surveys, learning, and staff perks.
- Payroll, including clear calculations, automated runs, and benefits tracking.
- Time and attendance, including time tracking, PTO management, and workforce cost calculations.
Pros and cons
Gusto clients praise its simplicity, user-friendliness, and “excellent customer service.” However, some users said they’d like to see the ability to store more complex data, and others experienced delays with payroll.
- Simple: $40 per month, plus $6 per month per person. Automatic payroll and benefits, financial benefits, employee profiles, basic hiring and onboarding, and accounting integrations.
- Plus: $60 per month, plus $9 per month per person. Everything in Simple, plus comprehensive payroll, benefits, HR tools, advanced hiring and onboarding, time tracking, and full support.
- Premium: Pricing on request. Everything in Plus, as well as access to HR experts, plus waived fees, employee surveys and performance reviews, and health insurance information.
5. Keka HR: Best for building company culture
Keka HR helps automate key human resources processes and makes it easier to build a positive, engaged company culture. It lets you hire and onboard new staff, as well as track performance and gain powerful insights from team members to facilitate future growth. It’s also designed to be just as useful for small (20+ staff) and very large companies (20,000+).
- Data and analytics for powerful insights from your entire team.
- Performance and culture tools to help you successfully scale your business.
- Hiring and onboarding tools for both in-person and remote workers.
- Mobile app for on-the-go staff.
- Safe document storage.
Pros and cons
Keka HR clients like that it saves them from “a lot of manual labor.” However, its pricing structure makes it better value for companies with at least 100 staff members, so it may not be ideal if you have a small to medium-sized team.
- Foundation: $500 per month for up to 100 employees, plus $5 per month per extra employee. Includes basic HR tools, document storage, analytics, time tracking, and a mobile app.
- Strength: $800 per month for up to 100 employees, plus $8 per month per extra employee. Everything in Foundation, plus advanced HR features, advanced onboarding and roles, custom reports, and extra time tracking tools like GPS and location-based punching.
- Growth: $1,100 per month for up to 100 employees, plus $11 per month per extra employee. All Strength features, plus remote employee engagement tools, performance tracking, and a talent development platform.
- Blue collar: For companies whose employees don’t need login access. Price on request.
- Startup pricing: For small businesses just starting out. Price on request.
- Learning management: Added learning and training bundle. Price on request.
Keka HR also offers a free trial.
6. Bob: Best for team insights
Describing itself as “more than your traditional HR platform,” Bob, from HiBob, aims to give managers a quick and insightful overview of their entire business, as well as provide tools that help them lead better and connect with staff more meaningfully.
- “Core HR” features, including automated HR processes, document storage, and engagement tools.
- Onboarding tools, including performance reviews, growth plans, and company goals.
- Payment management, including salary review tools and bonus coordination.
- Surveys and workforce feedback space to gather employee feedback, manage satisfaction, and enact positive change.
- Time off and sick leave management, including request and approval tools.
- Time and attendance tracking, including clocking in and out, a mobile app, and linked timesheets.
- Payroll, including a centralized dashboard and syncing with external payroll systems.
- Analytics, including gaining meaningful insights into your team, absenteeism, and progress.
Pros and cons
Bob is repeatedly praised for helping teams with time management and due to how “simple to use” it is. However, despite its breadth of features, the platform lacks native features for some key processes, such as payroll, so it may not work if you’re looking for a true all-in-one solution.
Hibob, the creator of Bob, doesn’t publish pricing publicly on the website. Instead, it invites visitors to send a message to request a custom quote.
7. Zenefits: Best for benefits management
Zenefits, from TriNet, positions itself as an HR tool for people who want to get back to working on their business and spend less time on administration. It aims to improve productivity, boost legal compliance, and reduce errors, as well as make benefits management simple and easy for both leaders and staff.
- People management, including onboarding and PTO tracking.
- Benefits coordination, including medical coverage and a variety of perks.
- Payroll, including fast payments and extra customization for larger companies.
- Scheduling and timesheets tools that are connected with the rest of the HR platform.
- A mobile app for employees that enables PTO requests and benefit signups.
Pros and cons
Zenefits users mention how “user-friendly” the platform is, as well as its “affordability.” However, some report “clunky” operations, and a few said their experience with customer support was “less than ideal.”
- Essentials: $8 per month per employee, including onboarding, time tracking, scheduling, analytics, and a mobile app.
- Growth: $16 per month per employee. Everything in Essentials, plus people analytics and performance management.
- Zen: $21 per month per employee. Everything in Growth, plus employee engagement surveys.
Users can also choose add-ons, including:
- Payroll: $6 per month per employee
- Advisory HR Services: $8 per month per employee
- Benefits Admin with your own broker, $5 per month per employee
- Recruiting: From $35 per month
8. Personio: Best for managing data
Personio’s features focus on centralizing employee data, offering insightful analytics data, and automating people management processes. The platform aims to streamline everything from recruitment to payroll to offboarding and describes itself as “perfect for small and medium businesses.”
- Reports and analytics, including tools for pay, people management and development, and recruitment.
- Hiring tools, including applicant sourcing and application tracking.
- Onboarding platform with absence management and attendance monitoring.
- Payroll preparation tools, including centralized coordination.
- Employee feedback and performance tracking.
- Document processing, including access control, e-signatures, and safe storage.
Pros and cons
Personio users particularly like its ability to digitize all documents and its “user-friendly interface… that makes tracking leave requests a breeze.” However, some felt it was a “high expense” that would actually “make it out of reach for startups” or smaller businesses, despite Personio’s own messaging.
Personio doesn’t publish its pricing publicly, but it has three levels of service: Essential, Professional, and Enterprise.
Personio’s Recruiting and Performance & Development products are optional extras.
9. Sage HR: Best for efficiency
From the same company as Sage accounting, Sage HR is designed for small businesses and aims to help managers engage their workforce, even if they’re remote. To do that, the Core HR product offers simple tools to boost employee engagement and workforce coordination.
- Core HR tools, including centralized employee records.
- Announcements feature to share news with the entire company quickly.
- Organizational chart to make hierarchy and structure clear.
- HR database to store and manage employee information clearly.
- Multiple language support.
- Online workforce management, including digital reports and communications.
- Employee access to documents like policies, schedules, and payslips.
- Leave management to see attendance and approval requests, as well as track PTO and sick leave.
- Timesheets for use with payroll tools.
- Performance management, including goal-setting and tracking and 360 performance reviews.
- Expenses management.
- Recruitment tools with applicant screening and interview scheduling.
Pros and cons
Users praise the platform’s “speed” and “efficiency” and like how it “centralizes” things without “overcomplicating.” However, Sage HR positions its Core HR product separately from its other modules and charges separately for each. Users also have to pay per employee, so the platform may not be the best, depending on your business structure and size.
- Core HR and Leave Management: $5.50 per employee per month.
- Core HR + Performance: $8.50 per employee per month.
- Core HR + Shift Scheduling: $11.50 per employee per month.
- Core HR + Timesheets: $14.50 per employee per month.
- Core HR + Expenses: $7 per employee per month.
- Core HR + Recruitment: $205.50 per month.
- Core HR + Everything: $216 per employee per month.
Sage HR also offers a free trial, as well as three months for free after signup.
10. When I Work: Best for simplicity
When I Work isn’t strictly an HR platform, but it does include several key features designed to help managers coordinate and engage staff. It has scheduling, time tracking, and team messaging tools. Overall, When I Work aims to “reduce chaos and costs” for both managers and staff.
- Employee scheduling, including the ability to create schedules easily and share them with staff in minutes.
- Time tracking tools, including attendance, PTO, and break tracking.
- Team messaging, including team communication within the same platform.
- Both a mobile app and a desktop version for easy management anywhere.
Pros and cons
When I Work is simple and focused, and users especially like its “agility” and “ease of scheduling.” However, it’s not strictly an HR tool, so it may not be right for you if you need an all-in-one platform with advanced features.
- Standard: From $2.50 per user per month for scheduling. $4 per user when you add time and attendance.
- Advanced: From $6 per user per month for advanced scheduling. $8 per user when you add time and attendance.
When I Work also offers a free trial.
The best HR software: Get back to the heart of your business
If people are the heart of your business, then your HR management software is the pump that keeps the system working smoothly, 24/7.
Any one of these tools will almost certainly offer an upgrade compared to a pen-and-paper system or the stress and technical hassle of trying to get several different systems to play nicely together.
However, not all of the above solutions will suit your small business. Some include payroll management, others specialize in data reporting, and others still include advanced hiring tools. Some, like When I Work, are lean and only have a few dedicated staff management systems. On the other hand, platforms like Keka HR are designed primarily for businesses with at least 100 team members.
As for Homebase, we believe our platform is the most comprehensive solution at one of the best-value price points. We also have a whole suite of affordable tools that were designed specifically with small businesses in mind. That way, you can stress less about HR and get back to running your business —with great people at its core.
**The information above is based on our research on HR softwares for small businesses. All user feedback referenced in the text has been sourced from independent software review platforms, such as G2 and Capterra, in March 2023.