The best HR for startups in 2024

When you’re starting a new business, it’s critical to take care of your team from day one. The best HR software for startups should not only provide easy and accurate payroll and people management, but they should also be ready to grow as your business grows.

We’ve put together a handy guide to compare the best startup-focused solutions to help you make the right choice for your growing business.

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1. Gusto – Best all-in-one HR and payroll for startups

Overview

Gusto came out on top of our list of best HR for startups in 2024 with a wealth of easy-to-use features designed specifically with startups and small businesses in mind. In fact, Gusto was voted best HR for startups by People Managing People, Technology Advice, Startup Savant and Confluence.vc, as well as best startup HR platform for payroll by Business.com and Business News Daily

Gusto’s intuitive interface simplifies even the most complex tasks, and their suite of time tracking tools together with their robust reporting and team management elevate HR to enterprise level, whether you’re a team of two or a team of twenty. 

Fully Integrated

For many startups, schedules, hours, and time off requests mean managing spreadsheets that need to be manually reviewed and synced to payroll. With Gusto, time tracking and PTO feed directly to payroll each period, and all federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated, filed, and paid on your behalf. Plus built-in compliance helps small businesses stay on top of changing regulations in everything from overtime and minimum wage to hiring and firing. 

Having a single system to handle hiring, onboarding, PTO, sick days, and benefits administration—that seamlessly syncs to payroll—makes it easy to take care of your team while saving both time and money.  

Employee Self-service

Self-onboarding makes it easy for employees to upload documents, e-sign contracts, and gives employees lifetime access to paystubs, W-2s, and more — without any work required on your behalf. Employees can manage benefits, clock in and out, and request time off, and managers can easily review and approve timesheets and time off requests.

Benefits Administration

With Gusto, benefits administration is included with all plans at no extra cost. In addition, Gusto offers a wealth of no-cost and low-cost benefits options in addition to traditional benefits like medical and dental. They make it easy to build a benefits package your employees will love, no matter your budget.  

Hiring & Onboarding

Gusto’s suite of hiring tools help them stand out from competitors who offer similar functionality with a bigger price tag. They offer people-first onboarding to welcome new members to the team and increase retention rates. The simple plan comes with offer letters, secure document storage, and onboarding checklists, while the Plus plan offers an integrated ATS (applicant tracking system), customized docs, job postings, and software provisioning. Background checks are available through Checkr, and unlike most competitors, Gusto handles state tax registration and compliance for new hires in all 50 states.

Wrap-up

More than just an HR and payroll solution, Gusto is a full-service people platform that’s designed specifically for startups and small businesses, yet is still ready to scale as your business grows. All of their tools feel designed with humans in mind, easily handling the entire employee lifecycle from recruiting and onboarding, to engagement and growth, to an employee’s last day. Gusto’s pricing is fully transparent, and while their affordable Simple plan has enough basic payroll and HR tools for most startups, you can access the large majority of their powerful HR tools on their mid-range Plus plan. Overall, they offer more functionality at a better price, winning them the top spot.  

Key Features

  • Seamlessly integrated payroll, HR, time tracking, and benefits
  • Robust time tracking tools
  • Integrated recruiting, hiring, and onboarding
  • Contractor-only plan
  • AI-powered workforce and project cost reporting 
  • Automated compliance and new-hire reporting in all 50 states
  • Performance management suite
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Mobile app
  • Support for international contractors in 120+ countries; global payroll currently being rolled out
  • Dedicated support from certified HR experts available
  • Hundreds of software integrations

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Intuitive, easy to use interfaceShift scheduling only available through third-party integrations
All-in-one solution for payroll, time, benefits, and HRSimple plan includes only the most basic HR tools 
Transparent pricing, no hidden feesMobile app lacks full functionality
Extensive payroll, HR, time-off, and workforce costing reportsNo native communication tool
Robust people management tools 
Great customer service; dedicated HR support available
Hundreds of software integrations included with all plans

Pricing

Gusto offers three pricing plans, with the Simple plan starting at $40 per month plus $6 per person per month. The Simple plan lacks the more powerful workforce management tools like time tracking and more advanced data and reporting, but it still comes loaded with basic support for hiring and onboarding, PTO, and benefits administration.  

Plus plans start at $80 per month plus $12 per person per month and include the full suite of time tracking, reporting, and team management tools along with the bulk of their advanced HR suite. Plus plans also come loaded with popular features like next-day direct deposit and multi-state payroll.  

Dedicated support from certified HR pros along with compliance alerts is available only with the Premium plan or through the HR add-on at $8 per person per month.  

Premium plans are priced exclusively, and include everything Gusto has to offer with no hidden monthly fees. For more info on Premium pricing, contact their sales team today

Free Trial? Yes, Gusto is free until you run your first payroll.

Free Version: No. 

Transform your payroll processes with Gusto, a platform that’s already the choice of over 300,000 businesses.

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2. OnPay – Best value payroll & HR for startups

Overview

OnPay is consistently rated as one of the best value payroll solutions on the market. If you’re looking for basic payroll and HR for your startup that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, they offer a simple, straightforward set of tools at one low price. There are no tiers or extras to figure out. Their single package comes with payroll, taxes, compliance, basic HR, and benefits administration in all 50 states. They support multi-state payroll as well as multiple pay rates and schedules. They handle federal, state, and local taxes, but if you want them to print and mail W-2s and 1099s, you’ll have to pay a little extra. With OnPay, what you see is what you get. 

In addition to their solid payroll tool, they offer a basic HR suite that includes PTO tracking, onboarding, an employee self-service portal, org charts, checklists, compliance alerts, a native communication tool, and benefits administration in all 50 states. 

OnPay is a great choice for startups that need payroll with a few HR extras and aren’t looking for more advanced features like time tracking or workforce costing reports.

Key Features

  • Automated federal, state, and local taxes
  • New hire compliance and payroll in all 50 states
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit, paper check, or prepaid debit card
  • 2-day or 4-day direct deposit
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Employee self-service with lifetime access
  • Basic HR functionality including onboarding workflows and document storage

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
A single price includes (almost) everything they offerNo room to grow as your business grows
Great for basic payroll needsOnly 11 software integrations supported
No benefits administration feesCharge extra to print and mail W-2s and 1099s
No email or chat support
Time tracking only through integration

Pricing

OnPay has a single pricing structure with no hidden fees: $40 per month plus $6 per employee per month. All of their payroll, HR, and benefits functionality is included, and you only pay each month for the employees you paid. OnPay will create 1099s and W-2s that you can download and send out, but if you want them to physically print and mail them, that will cost extra. 

Free Trial? Yes. Free payroll for one month. 

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about OnPay

Compare OnPay vs Gusto

3. Paychex Solo – Best startup HR software for solopreneurs

Overview

While Paychex Flex doesn’t make many of our “best of” lists due to its limited functionality in their most affordable packages, their solopreneur solution is an exception. For sole proprietors, it can be helpful to have a platform that guides you through every step of getting started. 

Paychex’s Startup Solution will help you file your organizational paperwork, including registering your LLC or S-Corp and filing DBA or “doing business as” status. They’ll help you fill out and file W-9s or I-9s (depending on if you’ll be your own employee or independent contractor), and they’ll help you pay yourself a “reasonable salary” as is required by the IRS. 

One of the biggest benefits they offer, however, are tax services to help you minimize your tax liability as well as a Solo 401(k) plan for significant retirement savings potential. As both your own employer and an employee of your company, they help you max out contributions and get the most out of tax-free or tax-deferred retirement savings. 

While Paychex may claim they are a great solution for startups and small businesses as well, for very small teams, you can get more features at a better price point with both Gusto and OnPay. 

Key Features

  • Help with all startup docs and filings
  • LLC and S-Corp tax-filing included
  • Single-member payroll included
  • Built to maximize Solo 401(k) contributions

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Designed especially for solopreneursOnly good for single-member LLCs
Includes setup and initial business filingsPricing not transparent
Helps maximize tax savings 

Pricing

As with many of Paychex’s products, they don’t offer transparent pricing for their solopreneur package, and you’ll need to reach out for a custom quote. 

Free Trial? No.

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about Paychex Self-Employed

4. TriNet HR – Best affordable HR platform for startups

Overview

Note: TriNet HR was formerly known as Zenefits. TriNet now offers both a standalone HR platform and their PEO solution, TriNet PEO. 

TriNet HR offers one of the most affordable HR packages for startups and small businesses, along with a highly rated mobile app. All of their packages come loaded with employee scheduling, time off tracking, PTO, data and document management, company directories and org charts, software integrations, mobile app access, and their basic analytics dashboard. They also have automated self-onboarding with offer letters and background checks, employee self-service, and account provisioning. For most companies looking for basic HRIS for startups, this is more than enough. And at just $8 per employee with no base package fee, it’s incredibly affordable.

However, if you’re looking for payroll, benefits administration, recruiting tools, or learning management, these are available only as add-on modules to their packages at a per-employee-per-month rate. Payroll is included only in their highest-tier package, and it comes with automated federal and state tax filing, as well as new-hire reporting. 

It’s important to note that while TriNet is an affordable solution for startups, their pricing model comes with a base of 5 employees. So while you can sign up with only 2 or 3 employees, you’ll be paying for 5 no matter what. At the end of the day, TriNet HR isn’t the best HR software for startups on the block, but their affordable pricing makes it possible to access the HR tools you need for much cheaper than most competitors in the space.

Key Features

  • Affordable base plan
  • Time tracking, PTO, and scheduling tools 
  • Paperless employee self-onboarding
  • Payroll add-on available with automated tax filings
  • Robust, native communication tools
  • Mobile app
  • Employee happiness surveys and retention tools

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
User-friendly interfaceBenefits, hiring tools, payroll, and HR advisory are all paid add-ons
Highly-rated mobile appMinimum 5-employee requirement for all plans
Base plan comes with more tools than mostLimited integrations
Transparent pricingCan be difficult to reach customer service
Robust reporting options

Pricing

TriNet’s HR Platform starts with the “Essentials” plan at $8 per employee per month, and then offers two higher-tier plans, “Growth” at $16 and “Zen” at $27 per employee per month. But these prices are only available if you make an annual commitment. For month-to-month packages, the prices go up to $10, $20, and $33 per employee per month, respectively.

The Essentials plan comes loaded with all of the basic HR functionality you need including onboarding and offboarding and employee and data management, but it lacks more robust reporting and analytics. 

For their full suite of reporting, analytics, data, compensation, and performance management, you’ll need to upgrade to their Growth plan. Payroll can be added to either of these plans for $6 per employee per month.

Finally, the Zen plan adds on retention tools like employee engagement, a “People Hub” to facilitate communication, and payroll at no extra cost. However payroll is only included for select industries.

Benefits administration, recruiting tools (powered by JazzHR), and HR advisory services aren’t included in any plans. The benefits administration fee is waived only if you choose a benefits broker referred by TriNet.

It’s also worth noting that TriNet has a minimum requirement of 5 employees for any of their pricing plans. You can still use their service if you only have two or three employees on payroll, but you’ll still have to pay for all five.

Free Trial? No.

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about TriNet HR

5. Remote – Best startup HR software for international teams

Overview

While many startups may not need to pay international employees and contractors right off the bat, Remote is a solid solution for those who do. Remote currently offers Employer-of-Record services in more than 80 countries around the world, along with support for international contractors in more than 200 countries and territories. 

They don’t contract with outside entities, which means better, faster support. For hiring international contractors, they provide compliant local contracts to make sure you’re staying within local labor laws as well as support for local taxes. They also offer indemnity protection against penalties, for an additional monthly fee. 

Their impressive suite of international support includes hiring, self-service onboarding, compliance, and benefits in a wonderfully user-friendly platform. You can even access their HR suite including time and attendance, document storage, and guided onboarding and offboarding completely free of charge; you’ll only be charged once you need to run payroll. When it’s time to run payroll, you can pay all of your team members around the world—whether contractor, full-time, or EOR—with a single payment. 

Remote also offers a unique refugee talent program, making it totally free to hire any refugee as a full-time employee. And as you’re thinking about expanding your talent pool to new countries, their website includes a comprehensive guide to local laws, compliance, and holiday and mandatory leave policies in every country they cover. 

One downside is that Remote’s pricing can start to add up, especially for EOR services, and at some point it makes more financial sense to open your own entity. But for smaller businesses especially, Remote offers a solid set of HR tools for startups that are looking to pay both global employees and contractors.

Key Features

  • Contractor payments in 200+ countries and territories
  • Global payroll and EOR in 80+ countries
  • Fully integrated payroll, benefits, and HR
  • Time-tracking, PTO, and expense management for both employees and contractors
  • Seamless onboarding and employee self-service portal
  • 100+ currencies supported with no conversion fees
  • Localized compliance, contracts, and benefits administration including stock options
  • Contractor misclassification risk assessment included
  • One-click or autopay contractor invoices

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Integration for domestic and international employees, contractors, full-time and part-timeCustomer support via email only
Great, user-friendly interfaceNo support for common international payment methods like Payoneer and PayPal
Free HR suiteNo workforce or project cost reporting
Owned entities are not outsourced to third-party vendors
Easy employee onboarding process
Country-specific compliance and benefits
No extra charge for benefits administration

Pricing

Remote prices their services based on which kind of global hiring you need. For their EOR service, it costs $599 per employee per month (on an annual plan), which is in line with industry standards. To go month-to-month it increases to $699. 

Their international contractor payments are reasonable at $29 per month, but if you only have international contractors and not full-time employees (or if you are operating 100% within the US), there are more affordable solutions out there. If you want to add $100,000 of indemnity coverage against penalties, they charge $99 per contractor per month. 

For global payroll in countries where you operate your own entity, they charge $50 per employee per month. 

Free Trial? You can set up an account and explore features including hiring and onboarding at no cost for 30 days. You’ll only be charged when you pay global workers.

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about Remote

6. Deputy – Best startup HR software for shift-based scheduling

Overview

Deputy is built specifically for shift-based businesses, and it shows. While their time clock app is well-rated and comes loaded with biometric, geolocation, and touchless clock in options, Deputy really shines when it comes to their powerful scheduling tools.

 

Retail and hospitality startups especially can benefit from AI-optimized schedules, POS integration, streamlined employee shift swapping, SMS shift notifications, built-in labor law compliance, and robust workforce costing reports. Deputy helps keep you in line with minimum wage, meal times, breaks, and fair workweek compliance regulations.    

Scheduling by skillset is another powerful tool to make sure you have the people you need onsite at the right time—whether it’s first aid, food prep, or heavy machinery. 

While Deputy’s list of HR features is nowhere near as long as major players like BambooHR and Gusto, their suite of time-focused functionality is some of the best in the business, both for startups and growing small businesses. They also offer easy integration with most popular accounting, payroll, and POS platforms loved by startups including Gusto, QuickBooks, OnPay, Square, and more.

Key Features

  • Clock in via web, mobile, or kiosk
  • Facial recognition & geolocation clock-in options
  • AI-optimized schedules
  • Employee shift swapping
  • Scheduling by skill set
  • Built-in meal and break notifications and compliance
  • POS integration
  • SMS shift notifications
  • Employee self-service & mobile app

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
User-friendly, uncluttered interfaceRequires third-party payroll and accounting integration
Built specifically for shift-based businessesTime Clock app for Android tablet has limited functionality
AI-optimized scheduling can save hours each weekNot robust enough to handle all of your HR needs
Strong value for the price
Good for businesses with multiple locations

Pricing

For the basic scheduling functionality, Deputy costs $4.50 per user per month. However, their scheduling tool does not include Time Clock, Timesheets, or Payroll Integration. 

If you want time & attendance tools, it’s also $4.50 per user per month, but does not include any scheduling tools, schedule templates, or meal and break planning. The time & attendance package includes both POS and payroll integrations. 

To get both scheduling and time and attendance tools, it costs $6 per user per month. 

Free Trial? Yes, one month.

Free Plan: No.


Learn more about Deputy

7. Connecteam – Best free HR software for startups

Overview

Usually free software for startups means a bare-bones version of their paid platform, meant to entice you to upgrade as soon as possible. Connecteam sets themselves apart by offering all of the functionality of their paid version completely free on their startup plan. The free version is limited to just 10 employees, but it includes everything in their Operations, Communications, and HR & Skills hubs. Of all the free HR software for startups, Connecteam is the only one that doesn’t limit access to features on their free plan. 

Across their three different hubs, Connecteam has a wide range of features including advanced time tracking with geofencing and biometric options, shift scheduling, a robust native communication tool with surveys and directories, and a native LMS along with employee rewards and recognition. As you go up in pricing tiers, many of the additional features are quite granular, including things like read receipts on messages, advanced permissions settings, or functionality for businesses with multiple locations.   

While Connecteam certainly takes the cake for their free offering, it’s important to note that the moment you cross that 10-employee threshold, Connecteams pricing is prohibitively high until you reach 30 employees and beyond.

Key Features

  • Powerful native communication
  • Integrated time tracking
  • Built-in scheduling tool
  • Clock in via web, mobile, or kiosk
  • Built-in LMS 
  • Secure document storage
  • Employee rewards & recognition

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Completely free up to 10 usersPricing adds up quickly once you cross the free threshold
Highly customizable and user-friendlyUsers are often hounded to upgrade
Highly rated customer serviceExpensive for teams of less than 30

Pricing

Beyond their free plan, Connecteam’s pricing is incredibly complicated. They offer 5 different plans within each of their three different hubs. The hubs are: Operations, Communications, and HR & Skills. The plans are Small Business, Basic, Advanced, Expert, and Enterprise. All plans are charged as a base fee for up to 30 users, plus an additional fee per user after that.

Within each hub, the Small Business Plan is free for up to 10 users. The Basic plan is $29 per month for the first 30 users plus $0.50 per user after that, the Advanced is $49 per month plus $1.50 per user after that, the Expert is $99 per month plus $3 per user after that, and pricing for the Enterprise plan is available upon request.

Free Trial? Yes, 14 days.

Free Plan: Yes, up to 10 employees.

Learn more about Connecteam

FAQs

Prices start at $46/month

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