The 5 Best Payroll Tools and How to Decide

When running a high functioning and performing team, one thing that can’t be missed is making sure your employees are paid in full and on time.

Choosing the best payroll software for your business is a big decision and should be considered in great detail. As a payroll administrator or HR representative, good payroll software will make your life much easier.

Payroll isn’t easy; it can bring headaches and stress. Fortunately, payroll software providers can help you do the work and simplify the process.

Check out these top 5 Payroll software systems:

  1. Gusto
  2. OnPay
  3. Zenefits
  4. ADP
  5. Paychex

Whether you are looking for a simple setup, free payroll software, or a full-service system, this guide will help you choose the best payroll software for your business.


Gusto is an all-in-one people platform that helps businesses with onboarding, pay and benefits. They have built an excellent reputation with being beautifully designed and offering full payroll services while providing plenty of features.

Gusto offers such an easy software setup that a business can be ready to run payroll in minutes. It’s user-friendly and easy to set up, manage, and pay employees.

If you are a one-person team and need help with onboarding, payroll cycles, and benefits, Gusto can help you. Gusto offers excellent features like:

  • Being able to calculate your taxes and file everything.
  • Help you with compliance, time-tracking, PTO, employee benefits and more
  • Gives staff easy access to pay-stubs, W-2s, and everything else your employee will need online.

Gusto’s payroll plans start at $39/month, plus $6/month for each managed employee. Depending on the plan you choose, it will determine how many features you will receive. See their full pricing below:

Contractor — $0/ month

  • $6 per month per person
  • Unlimited contractor payments
  • Contractor self-service
  • Form 1099 creation and fillings

Core — $39/ month

  • $6 per month per person
  • Employee self-service
  • Health benefits administration
  • Workers’comp administration
  • PTO policies

Complete — $39/month

  • $12 per month per person
  • All Core features
  • Employee offers and onboarding
  • Time tracking
  • Time-off requests
  • Employee directory and surveys

Concierge — $149/month

  • $12 per month per person
  • All Complete features
  • Certified HR professionals
  • HR resource center

Gusto also allows you to add extra benefits like 401(k)s and FSAs to any additional cost plans. You can also set up tax-advantaged spending accounts for your team. To receive more details on this, reach out to the Gusto sales team.

The Cor plan is usually the most purchase plan. It is perfect for small teams that have basic payrolls. When your organization grows, Gusto offers enough plans that will provide the advanced features you may need if your business desires a full-service HR resource.


  1. Automatic local, state, and federal payroll tax filing.
  2. Unlimited payroll runs in every state.
  3. The software offers excellent automation services.


  1. Customer support is limited to daytime hours on weekdays.
  2. Limited PTO and holiday pay features with the cheapest purchase plan.
  3. Some users believe the dashboard could be a bit more advanced.

Whether you are looking for a simple payroll plan or one full of features, Gusto has what you need. Their plans are on the pricer side, but they offer an excellent service that can get your business up and running.


One of the best benefits of OnPay is that it gives employees full self-service functions. Meaning, employees can onboard themselves, access their accounts while with the company or after having left, change personal information, and manage their 401(k) directly online.

Unlike some payroll software, OnPay also integrates well with other software your business might be running like QuickBooks.


  1. Easy and well-designed dashboard for managers and employees.
  2. Unlimited payrolls.
  3. Simple, transparent pricing plan


  1. No mobile app.

OnPay is excellent software for small to medium-sized businesses. They offer payroll services that some more prominent software services will charge much more for. This software stands out most for its user-friendly and setup ability for businesses. To learn more about this service visit OnPay.


Zenefits is a great payroll software option for small and medium-sized businesses. They provide a range of HR solutions and an easily manageable platform.

They provide the best-designed HR software solutions for small and medium-sized businesses while offering impressive functionalities, intuitive administration features, and the ability to add on services.

Zenefits also does a great job of allowing seamless integration. Whether it’s HR, benefits, time, and scheduling plans, they offer tons of integration to make your life easier.

Here is a list of the many features the payroll software offers:

  • Automatic prorating for new hires
  • Automated payroll reminders
  • Informational pay-stubs
  • Pay-stub messages
  • Direct deposit
  • Pay for contractors
  • Custom earning codes
  • Multiple pay rates

On the employee side, Zenefits simplifies administration features with s self-service benefits portal. Employees can update their benefits coverage and personal information. Zenefits also offers a great mobile app that allows employees to pull up a digital version of their benefits for quick and easy use at appointments.

Since Zenefits is a great software that supports significant HR functions, payroll is charged as an optional add-on. Their service does a great job of integrating with third-party payroll providers.

Depending on the type of payroll software you are looking for, Zenefits may not be for you. Although they offer payroll, some users believe it is limited compared to others. But if you are looking for an extensive HR software, Zenefits may be your best choice.

Zenefits offers three plans, which are reasonably priced. See below for a better look into their plans and prices.

Zen Plan – $21/monthly per employee

Best for companies looking into delivering the best employee experience and eliminating all HR barriers to workforce productivity.

Growth Plan (Most popular) – $14/monthly per employee

This plan will offer everything you need to improve your workforce’s productivity and manage future growth.

Essentials Plan – $8/monthly per employee

This plan offers all the tools to manage your workforce and help keep the company compliant seamlessly.

If you are looking for add-on services like; payroll, advisory services, or benefits admin, contact Zenefits Sales team for more information.


  1. Excellent employee mobile app.
  2. Comprehensive benefits admin and plan building functionality throughout the dashboard.
  3. The software holds through employee records.


  1. The software could be overwhelming to smaller businesses.

Zenefits is a great platform that encompasses pretty much all HR tasks that a business may need. It could seem overwhelming to payroll administrators who are focused more on their employees getting paid, submitting payroll taxes accurately, and managing basic benefits. Depending on what you’re looking for, Zenefits could be an excellent addition to your business.


ADP Payroll is one of the most popular and seasoned online payroll services out there. They offer payroll, global HCM, and outsourcing services throughout 140+ countries worldwide.

Whether you are a small or large business owner, one of ADPs plans will suit your needs. They offer two different levels of plans.

Small business payroll, which is their service for smaller businesses with 1-49 employees. This selection is usually best for start-ups.

Midsized to enterprise payroll, this service is for larger businesses with 50-1,000+ employees.

According to the ADPs website, it’s good to note that they help nearly 700,000 small businesses with their payroll solutions. This should give new users much confidence that they are making the right choice if they chose ADP.

Across both levels of plans, there are four different pricing plans you can choose from. Depending on your decision, you can expect to get features like direct deposit, tax fillings, legal assistance, and HR training tool services.

Their service also lets you track your employees’ hours worked and manage their PTO and other requests.

Since ADP’s pricing plans are specific, they request that you contact them for a free quote. Depending on your business’s needs, expect the pay to be stary from $10-20 per employee.

If you need more than just the HR basics, their plans will be more expensive but will offer features such as employee background checks, ZipRecruiter assistance, tax assistance, and more.


  1. Unlimited payroll runs.
  2. Basic HR features are offered in every package.
  3. Well known brand that provides excellent service.


  1. Customer support limited to daytime hours on weekdays.
  2. Plans can become pricey for advanced features.

ADP does a great job of providing a good amount of features for every plan. If your business continues to grow and it needs more advanced features, the plans can become much more expensive. But you can be confident that with choosing ADP, you are selecting a reliable payroll software that has been thriving in this field of business for years.


Paychex is another payroll software that has been around for a very long time. They are currently offering their services to over 600,000 companies. Over the years, they have done a great job adapting to the change of business and adding more features to their payroll service.

Paychex is an excellent option for smaller businesses, and they can also tend to the needs of larger businesses because of the flexibility and solutions they offer. They offer solutions in payroll processing, HR, employee onboarding, background checks, and detailed analytics and reporting.

Paychex offers four plans: Express payroll plan, Paychex Flex Select, Paychex Flex Pro, and Paychex Flex enterprise plans. All four of these plans come with the following features:

  • Payroll tax administration
  • New-hire reporting
  • Free mobile app
  • 24/7 phone and chat support
  • Employee financial wellness program
  • Direct deposit and pay cards
  • Employment and income verification services

When you choose the higher leveled plans, you will get more features, one of those features is a dedicated payroll specialist that will help you with any tax or payroll questions you may have.

If you are looking for more information on these plans, you will need to request a quote from their sales team. This can be a concern for some users who are looking for transparency and getting started immediately if that is the case Paychex may not be the best choice for you.

When it comes to their customer service, Paychex offers multi-tiered options, which allows companies to choose from a variety of options to fit best their size and complexity, which comes in handy.


  1. Easy to navigate through the dashboard.
  2. 24/7 live phone support.
  3. They offer many customizable options.


  1. Non-transparent pricing.
  2. Pricing plans can be expensive with advanced features.

Paychex is a solid choice when looking for an online payroll service. But the plans can be pricey, but they offer excellent options and highly scalable solutions that can help with business productivity and small complex payroll and HR solutions for all business sizes.

How to Choose Your Online Payroll Service

Business Size

Depending on the size of your business, you will have different needs. You may need payroll and HR services, or you may just need one. Recognize which solutions will fit best for your business and make your decision. Take into consideration the growth and scaling that your business may have in the coming months and years.


If you are offering particular types of benefits to your employees, you should find a payroll system that will accommodate what you will offer.

Not every payroll service offers employee benefits like:

  • 401(k) plans
  • HSAs
  • Health insurance
  • Vision and dental

This will be something you will want to confirm.

Employee Self-Service

If you want a more hands-off approach with a payroll system, it would be best to choose an online payroll service that offers employee self-service options. The best payroll services will allow employees to edit their personal information, manage benefits, view pay-stubs, and more.


For some smaller businesses, this could be a huge decision. Most payroll plans offer monthly plans, and some will provide yearly options as well. The price you pay will impact the features of your plan. If you are looking for basic payroll services, you may find a very affordable price.

If you are looking for a full-service system that includes payroll and HR services, you will be paying much more to receive all of those features. Find out what your business needs for now and the future.

Incredible companies use Nira

Every company that uses Google Workspace should be using Nira.
Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira