14 Best HR Software for Startups & Small Businesses

If you are a startup or a small business looking for a human resources management system, you may already know that there are many HR solutions to choose from!

Now, the sheer number of available options is, in itself, a double-edged sword. How so? Too many HR solutions mean choosing the right HR software for your startup can be hard and confusing.

However, it also means plenty of HR software for startups and small businesses.

Cost is critical for any business, not only small businesses and startups. So, we will look at some of the best free HR software for startups and small businesses in this article.

Now that we know what you’re looking for in Human Resources Software let’s look at the top choices.

Best Human Resources Software Solutions for Startups

  • Breezy HR
  • Freshteam
  • Bitrix24
  • Gusto 
  • Cezanne HR
  • Paychex
  • ADP Workforce Now
  • Zenefits
  • OrangeHRM
  • Zoho People 
  • ICE HRM 
  • BambooHR
  • OnPay
  • Manatal

With that in mind, let’s dive into our list of the best HR software for startups.

Breezy HR

Breezy HR

Breezy is a visual recruiting and applicant tracking system that helps businesses improve their hiring process. Their drag-n-drop interface & automation features make it easier to focus on suitable candidates.

It helps you advertise your open jobs on over 50 job boards with a single click.

Breezy offers email and calendar integrations with Google Apps and Microsoft Office 395.

Breezy’s iOS and Android apps let real-time conversations flow and notify the team about relevant events.


  • Assessment Management
  • Activity Tracking
  • Customizable Reports
  • Data Import/Export
  • Employee Database
  • Employee Management
  • Real-Time Reporting
  • Recruitment Management


  • FREE – 1 active position, one active candidate pool
  • Startup: $143 per month, billed annually or $171 billed monthly
  • Business: $399 per month, billed annually or $479 billed monthly

*All paid plans include a free trial, unlimited users, candidates, and customer support.


Freshteam HR Software

If you want HR software that actively increases employee productivity, then Freshteam should be on your list.

FreshTeam is one of the best HR software for small businesses and startups that offers plenty of features that allow you to manage all of your HR processes. These features include applicant tracking, CRM (customer relationship management), employee recruitment, and more.

Freshteam gives its users complete control over the hiring process, and it does so without sacrificing the quality of candidates.

The solution also offers referral management and basic team collaboration. Another bonus that comes with Freshteam is email application management. These features help make Freshteam your go-to system for tracking and recruitment, as you get all the functionalities you need in a single platform.

Freshteam offers integrations with third-party apps and services like Facebook, Google Calendar, Freshsales, and Freshdesk.

What do you get for free?

  • Email Application Management
  • Job Embeds
  • Basic career site
  • Team collaboration
  • Referral management
  • Management of job posting


Unfortunately, the free version limits you to only five users.



Bitrix24 is a cloud-based collaboration and project management software solution that helps with all your HR-related tasks. In addition, it offers 25 free HR tools that can give you all the HR features and functions you need.

The solution is top-rated HR software among small businesses and is currently used by over 2,500 HR departments, staffing agencies, and recruiters.

Like an HR system, Bitrix24 offers features such as a private social network, document management, an employee portal, shared calendars, leave requests, and employee workload planning. The solution also offers plenty of project management features.

It also offers advanced features, such as appreciation badges, which can help companies boost employee management.

Bitrix24 is a project management software that doubles as HR software. Still, we highly recommend looking at the best project management software for startups if you want something more specialized in project management.

What do you get for free?

  • Employee directory
  • Calendars
  • Time off & leave management.
  • Document management
  • Time Management
  • Activity Stream
  • Recruiting
  • Permissions
  • Company-wide announcements
  • Work reports
  • Performance Reviews
  • Collaboration
  • Company structure
  • API


Unfortunately, the free version has some limitations. You are only limited to 12 users and 5 gigabytes of online storage.

It’s also strange that managing employee absence, a feature considered essential for any human resources management system is not included in the free plan.

You also don’t get access to customer support. And you can’t brand the system with your company logo.


Gusto HR software

Gusto is an HR software that can simplify your business’s complex HR processes. It offers a centralized platform that enables users to manage benefits administration, payroll, and workforce compliance.

The HR software solution helps businesses go paperless by moving all their paperwork to the digital platform. Businesses can store their documents, forms, and employee data in one central location.

The employee directory allows the HR team to streamline tracking and manage time-off requests. You will also easily create a vacation and sick policy and store it where all your employees can access it.

Gusto offers features you must pay for with other HR payroll services, such as W-2s, 1099s, automated tax filings, pay schedules, expedited payrolls, and multiple states. Even better, it doesn’t limit you to a certain number of payrolls; you get unlimited payrolls.

Gusto is the best HR software for small businesses and startups.

What do you get for free?

  • Vacation and sick policies
  • Employee directory
  • Electronic Signature
  • Org Chart
  • Digital forms, including W-4s and 1099s
  • Automated balances tracking
  • Online time-off requests by employees
  • New hire self-onboarding


Retrieving basic information (for employees) can be, at times, quite complicated, and a Slack integration could step up the solution’s game. The reporting options could also use depth, and some employers complained about having few options for 401Ks.

Cezanne HR


Cezanne HR is one of the best HR software solutions for international teams or teams with global operations. That’s mainly thanks to the solution’s capability to deal with international regulations and local laws in different countries. They also offer multi-language and multi-currency support.

The solution is a modular system that allows users to pick and choose precisely what the business needs and nothing else. In addition, Cezanne offers tools for performance reviews, recruitment, people management, Payroll, and more.

Cezanne is a more comprehensive solution than other options on this list. It offers advanced modules, such as the career and succession module, that allow users to strategically plan for their future needs, map key roles, identify potential successors, etc.

Cezanne provides workforce analytics tools and complementary solutions for payroll. In addition, the platform is accessible to employees and HR managers through a native mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


Cezanne is a comprehensive, fully-featured solution, but this comes at the price of complexity. It requires a bit of experience to get used to it and has a steep learning curve that will not fit everyone’s liking. In addition, the system is only available on the cloud, which means you’ll have an internet connection to access the platform.

Cezanne Pricing

Cezanne HR doesn’t have clear pricing plans, but you can get a quote using their online quote calculator instead of enduring the negotiations with a salesperson.



Paychex is a complete HCM suite combining payroll, HR, and benefits management in a single package.

It is well-suited for businesses of all sizes. It manages HR, time and attendance, Payroll and taxes, insurance, employee benefits, 401(k) retirement plans, accounting, and finance.

Paychex has dedicated Care Act solutions that take action on complex health rules and regulations.

Paychex can automate applicant tracking and expense management, making more convenient and efficient recruiting and expense processes.

The solution is flexible and scalable, so you can keep using it as your business grows without worrying about moving to another solution.

Paychex Pricing

Paychex doesn’t have a FREE plan but offers a 1-month free trial. After that, their pricing plan starts at $39/month + $5 per employee.

Key Features

  • Online payroll
  • Payroll tax administration
  • Track time and attendance
  • New-hire reporting
  • General ledger report
  • Accounting software integration
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Standard analytics and reporting
  • Entirely U.S.-based customer service
  • Automatic W-2s and 1099s
  • HR and business forms
  • Labor compliance poster kit
  • Electronically deposit payroll funds into employees’ accounts
  • Additional employee pay options

ADP Workforce Now


ADP Workforce Now is a well-known, cloud-based HR software for small and mid-sized businesses.

The HR software solution helps businesses automate all their HR and Payroll processes using a single dashboard.

You will manage employee payroll, time and attendance, and benefits from the dashboard.

Some features include bonuses, time and attendance, employee health insurance statistics, benefits, and talent management.

You will also be able to generate insightful reports from this dashboard.

ADP Workforce Now comes with a benefit plan creation wizard that you can configure to meet the policies and processes of your business.

Key Features

  • Benefits administration features
  • Real-time analytics
  • Human resources management functionalities include recruiting, engaging, retaining, and promoting your employees.
  • Direct deposit
  • General ledger interface
  • New-hire reporting
  • W-2s and 1099s
  • Tax filing
  • Payroll delivery

ADP Pricing

You can get three months FREE for small businesses and startups when you sign up for small business payroll processing.


ADP only offers performance management and employee engagement tools in its plans reserved for companies with 50+ employees.


Zenefits HR

Zenefits is an online HR software solution to help startups and small-to-midsized businesses with their HR and payroll needs.

It offers an employee directory, business intelligence, insurance benefits management, and payroll processing.

The solution allows businesses to manage all their HR-related processes from a single interface. It also allows employees to access the system to control all their HR records.

Zenefits also works hard to update your HR professionals with employee tax and earnings, deductions, and more. With Zenefits, you will also not have to worry about ACA compliance, and the mobile app and PTO tracks add a new layer of functionality to the solution.

Zenefits’ features include personnel management, onboarding, and offboarding. In addition, the HR software can smoothly integrate with your already-existing infrastructure and the apps and systems you are already using.

Zenefits is the best HR software for hiring and recruiting.

What do you get for free?

  • Hiring
  • Onboarding
  • Offboarding
  • Personnel Management
  • Employee directory


Zenefits, as a standalone app, doesn’t offer much. The app’s free version is functional but pretty barebones, especially compared to some of its direct competitors on this list. It could greatly benefit from adding features like performance management to its free version.

If you’re looking for payroll, you should look elsewhere, such as this free and open-source payroll software.



OrangeHRM is a user-friendly, cloud-based resource management and HR tool suitable for businesses of all sizes and fields. The solution is used by more than 3.5 million users worldwide, thanks to its cost and the offered features.

This is an open-source solution, and it comes with all the benefits you expect. You can learn about why Open Source Software is good for small businesses here.

OrangeHRM does offer paid plans, but the solution is free, as you can get almost all the features you want at zero cost. OrangeHRM’s features include benefits and leave management, recruitment, personnel and information management, time and attendance tracking, and employee self-service.

There is also a large number of available customizations to choose from. The level of customizability means the solution is flexible and easily scalable. As your business grows, you won’t find yourself migrating to another system, which can be annoying and time-consuming.

What do you get for free?

  • Document Management
  • Performance Assessment
  • Employee self-service
  • Personnelinformation management
  • Time and leave management
  • Time and attendance management
  • Travel and expense tracker


Of course, being an open-source software comes with its cons. The solution needs you, or someone in your company, to have some IT knowledge. You must implement your servers and maintain the solution (and its installed hardware).

Customer support is not included in the free version, and updates and bug fixes cost extra. In addition, some limitations could be problematic for advanced users. For example, you won’t keep an audit trail on system changes or customize workflows.

Zoho People

Zoho People

If you’re familiar with the Zoho family of business products and/or have used them before, then Zoho People might be the HR platform you need.

Zoho People is an excellent HR management tool that offers a free version with outstanding features. These features include time and leave management, admin operations, file cabinets, time and attendance tracking, form customization, and real-time collaboration.

You also get performance management functionalities, such as performance appraisals, self-appraisals, and performance reports. In addition, the employee self-service portal gives employees access and control over their information.

Zoho People also offers integrations with many third-party apps and services. Zoho’s HR process automation is a great time saver and can save your valuable business time, money, and human power.

It is a complete HR solution available online, so you can access it anywhere. In addition, it allows you to manage and access all your employee data from a single location.

Zoho People is the best HR Software for payroll.

What do you get for free?

  • Leave Management
  • Employee self-service
  • Basic HRIS
  • Recruitment Management
  • Employee Management
  • Third-Party Integrations


Unfortunately, Zoho’s free plan is only available for up to five users and offers a tiny 250 MB of storage. Both numbers mean that the free version is not a free-forever or a freemium plan but is meant as a free trial that will force you to eventually upgrade to a paid plan if you wish to continue using the solution.

Zoho People doesn’t come with performance management and employee engagement tools.



ICR HRM is an HR software for startups and small and mid-sized businesses. The solution has a rich user interface built with PHP and Javascript. In addition, this solution is easily customizable and expandable thanks to its modular structure.

As you can expect from a complete HR solution, the solution offers plenty of features such as time tracking, attendance tracking, employee information management, and more.

ICE HRM allows you to update all employee information with a button easily. The timesheet feature is excellent, especially since you can easily export it as an Excel file to use with other applications or import it to another platform.

Since ICE HRM is an open-source application, you get all of this for free, and the only limitation is the number of available users.

What do you get for free?

  • Attendance Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Employee management
  • Company information management
  • Time tracking and timesheets
  • LDAP login


Unfortunately, ICE HRM’s free version is only available for up to five users. However, you can still use the solution for free, but you will need to host it on your servers and do the maintenance yourself.

ICE HRM is also missing some crucial functions altogether. These include document management, audit trails, and custom HR forms. You will also need to troubleshoot as the support is pretty much non-existent, and you will need to find the answers to your questions and problems independently.


Bamboo HR

BambooHR is a cloud-based HR software designed for small and mid-sized businesses. It enables enterprises to track training and benefits, store information, forms, time-off requests, and more.

BambooHR was built on the principle that HR is for people only, not paperwork. They position themselves as a solution that can help small businesses transition from spreadsheets to a flexible and efficient core HRIS system.

BambooHR is user-friendly, with an engaging interface that makes using the solution easy.

The solution offers excellent onboarding tools, flexible performance management, customizable fields, tabs, user groups, and performance reviews. In addition, BambooHR integrates smoothly with many third-party applicant tracking and payroll systems for extended functionality.

What sets BambooHR apart from other HR software is its intuitive and engaging user experience, making it easy for first-time users to quickly adopt the solution without training.

BamboHR is the best HR software for people management.


BambooHR doesn’t offer native integration with popular payroll software, something most of its competitors, like Gusto, offer. Unlike Gusto and Zoho People, who don’t charge you a setup fee, the HR software also has a hefty setup fee.

BambooHR Pricing

On its official website, Bamboo doesn’t have an explicit pricing scheme. However, by digging around, you can find that their pricing starts at $4.95/ employee /month.

Bamboo offers a 14-day free trial.



OnPay is a Payroll solution first and a human resources software second, but it excels in both in that it still comfortably takes a spot in any list of HR software.

The solution offers the features needed to streamline almost any payroll process. It can also automate your tax filing and payment processing, making payroll much easier.

OnPay will automatically enter payroll information such as work hours, benefits, and reimbursements. In addition, you get unlimited payroll runs for W-2 workers and 1099 contract staff.

Direct deposit payment is available, or you can go for printed checks instead. In addition, the vendor offers top-notch customer service that will quickly and efficiently solve any issues you face.

OnPay’s main strength lies in its simplicity. The solution is straightforward, and you can complete most payroll processes in minutes with a few clicks.

What do you get for free?

You get everything for free for one month, but you must choose a plan afterward. Yes, this means this is also not a free-forever option, but most users who give it a shot tend to like it and upgrade to a paid plan.

The good thing is that you get everything they offer, whichever paid plan you choose, as the only difference between these plans is the number of available users.


OnPay is very easy to use, but setting up the solution could be more accessible. Also, like any payroll software, things can get a bit complex with taxes in some states, and some users have complained about this issue with their tax filings in certain states.

However, this remains a possibility with any payroll software.



Manatal is a cloud-based recruitment software designed to streamline the whole recruitment process for the corporate HR department and recruitment agencies of all sizes. The software is currently used in over 100 countries. 

The software is praised for its user-friendly interface. HR departments can manage all recruitment processes, including pipeline and candidate database management, compliance, and candidate scoring through artificial intelligence (AI). It also includes a career page builder, a recruitment CRM, a complete API, and other valuable features.

Manatal also includes a complete reporting and analytics suite. It offers candidates, job, hiring performance, and leaderboard reports. This lets users analyze recruitment activities to determine why some initiatives work while others fail and how to improve them in the future.

Manatal’s support team is available round the clock via live chat and email. Manatal also provides extensive documentation and video tutorials to help users get the most out of each feature.

Key Features:

  • All core applicant tracking system features
  • Free and premium job postings on over a thousand channels
  • Career page builder
  • Duplicate candidate management
  • Referral management
  • Collaboration tools
  • Full reporting suite
  • Onboarding/placement management
  • Documentation and video guides
  • Automated resume formatting and branding


Manatal provides a 14-day free trial with two price plans ($15 and $35 per user/month).

How to Choose the Right HR Software for Your Business?

Determine your needs 

For your business to invest in a new HR system, you need to be sure that it will meet all your needs and add something valuable to your business. Adding technology to your current process is insufficient to justify investing time and money into a new HR system.

You should learn more about the problems you need the HR software to solve and its needs.

You could also already have an HR system but are looking to upgrade. In this case, you need to take a look at it and start finding out what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need that this solution doesn’t offer.

Something worth considering is whether it’s cost- and time-effective to change the solution altogether or is it better to find a way to improve it. Ask your team and your employees, and search the internet to get more out of the current system if possible.

You should also take automation heavily into consideration. Automation is a game-changer, and you want a solution to automate as many tasks as possible. Automation can save you a ton of time and money.

Have High but Realistic Expectations 

While deciding what you need from the HR system, remember to keep your expectations high but not too high that it’s unrealistic. Yes, you will be surprised by what current HR systems offer, and some of the features they offer seem too good to be accurate, but that doesn’t mean you expect the impossible out of it.

Too many people have low or very high software expectations when implementing a new HR system. The key thing to remember is that an HR system will do a lot for you, but it won’t do everything.

Here’s a tip: Prioritize your needs.

Prioritize your needs as essential, needed, and excellent additions. Try to differentiate between what you need and want and what you fantasize about.

Discussing this with your team is important so you are all on the same page. Your team members will have different expectations about the software, so you should set things straight before moving on.

Set a budget 

Depending on the size of your business, the system’s complexity, the features you want, the number of employees the system needs to manage, and the vendor, the HR system’s cost can vary significantly.

Small businesses can get away with free or very low-cost HR systems, while large companies can pay thousands for the HR system.

While setting a budget for the new HR system, you should keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot, but you will need to invest in getting the features you want in an easy-to-use package. For example, while researching, you will find plenty of options in the 5-to-10 thousand-dollar price range.

However, these are expensive because most HR software tools offer standard HR functions such as attendance and compensation. This offers more advanced functionalities and features, such as managing and tracking benefits and regulatory compliance.

Pay Attention to the essential integrations.

After choosing the features, you need to consider the integrations because some can change your software experience entirely.

Take payroll integration as an example since it’s the most crucial integration you need with an HR system. Therefore, you should use HR software that integrates seamlessly with popular accounting or payroll solutions.

If you are already using an accounting/payroll solution, which is very likely, you need to make sure the software you choose can integrate quickly and effortlessly with this software.

This integration means you will eliminate data entry from the process and provide consistent information across your business. In addition, the HR software will automatically port all your existing data from the other system.

Think About Customization 

No matter how much an HR system costs, there is nothing like a perfect software package. It may suit your needs, but it will never be perfect. This is why you need to think about customization.

HR management solutions providers do their best to cover all bases by offering all the features they think businesses need to be built into their software. However, you will still need some things to be custom-built for your business, as these can make your workflow that much smoother.

You can do this with customization options. For example, you will need certain things in your reports or a specific screen layout. If the solution enables you to customize the fields in your reports or the layout elements to your needs, you will be more productive and efficient.

Customization options also give you headroom for future changes that will inevitably happen to your business. This means you reduce the chances of switching to another HR system in the future because you can modify the system and have it still meet your needs even with the changes in your organization.

Start your search and narrow it Down.

Now that you know exactly what the software needs, it’s time to research. Start with Google, visit the vendors’ websites, and talk to salespeople. Try to learn as much as possible about each solution.

Make a list of the available options and work your way down to the best five, four, or three options. These should meet all your needs, fit the budget, and be suitable for your business & industry.

Try them out for yourself.

After narrowing down your list to only three to five solutions, you should check out the options for yourself before committing.

Reading reviews online and talking to salespeople are not enough to decide. Instead, you should talk to other users of each solution and tell them about their experience using the software.

Don’t know anyone who uses the software? Ask the vendors! Ask each vendor for a recent client list and contact those most similar to your business.

Then, it would be best to try the software out yourself. You will find that most vendors offer a free demo upon request, so you can check what they offer more in-depth. It’s essential to try and pick out the issues or problems because you don’t want to invest the time and money to implement and set up the solution only to be surprised by some hidden problems.

Watch out for hidden fees.

Some software companies play a tricky game with their pricing. You will find that some providers offer essential functions, but after purchasing and implementing the software, you need to pay for some features you thought were included in the package.

It’s like buying a house and then discovering that the doors and windows are extras and you need to pay more to install them. Of course, it’s a no-brainer that the house has doors and windows, but HR software is a bit more tricky.

Have a lengthy discussion with the salesperson or vendor representative about the package you are buying offers and what you will need to pay for. Ask every question you need to ask, and it’s not something that should be rushed, and make sure you understand precisely which features are included in their core pricing and which ones need to be purchased separately.

Consider the time of setting it up.

In the business world, time is money. Therefore, software needing minor up-front customizations will be set up more quickly.

One more thing to consider is how easy the software is to use. Which would you rather do? Software that can be set up in a day but is so complex and challenging to use that every employee needs a week of training to use it or one that you can set up in two days, but your employees can start using it right away because it’s so intuitive and easy to use.

That’s it! Congratulations, you now know all the basics of how to choose an HR system for your business. As you can see, it’s not easy, but it’s not mind-bogglingly tricky.

It will take time and effort, but it’s worth it if you want to choose software that will push your business forward.

Final Words:

We know choosing is not easy; it rarely is. Unfortunately, that’s just the business world we live in, but it’s great that we have these many choices of free HR software for startups to choose from.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If so, you might enjoy these resources:

One thought on “14 Best HR Software for Startups & Small Businesses

  1. Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles
    Very interesting,good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.You’re doing a great job.Keep it up

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