Best Free HR Software for Startups

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If you are a startup or a small business looking to get HR software, then you may already know: There are so many options to choose from!

Now, the sheer number of available options is, in itself, a double-edged sword. How so? Well, too many options mean it can be quite hard and confusing to choose the right HR software for your startup.

However, it also means there is plenty of free HR software for startups to choose from.

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

Best Free HR Software for Startups

  • Gusto
  • Bitrix24
  • Zenefits
  • Freshteam
  • OrangeHRM
  • Zoho People
  • OnPay


Gusto HR Software

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

The solution helps businesses go paperless by allowing them to move all their paperwork to the digital platform. Businesses can store their documents, forms, and employee information – all in one central location.

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

Gusto offers plenty of features that you will need to 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, and you get unlimited payrolls.

What 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 (employee self-service)
  • New hire self onboarding


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


Bitrix24 HR Management Software

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

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

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

It also offers some advanced features, such as appreciation badges, which can help companies give employee management a boost when needed.

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

What you get for free

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


Unfortunately, the free version has some limitations, which you will run into more quickly than expected. You are only limited to 12 users and 5 gigabytes of online storage.

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

You also don’t get access to customer support. You also can’t brand the system with your company logo, which is not really essential unless branding really matters to you.


Zenefits HR Software for startups

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

The solution offers employee directory, business intelligence, insurance benefits management, and payroll processing.

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

Zenefits also works hard to keep your managers updated with things like 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. Zenefits can smoothly integrate with your already-existing infrastructure and the apps and systems you are already using.

What you get for free

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


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

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


Freshteam HR Software

If you want a human resources platform that will work actively on increasing employee productivity, then Freshteam should be on the top of your list.

The solution 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. All of these features help to 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 many third-party apps and services such as Facebook, Google Calendar, Freshsales, and Freshdesk.

What 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 5 users. The solution is also lacking in voice communications as it doesn’t offer any VOIP or telephony capabilities. Users have also complained that their mobile application needs some work.


Orange CRM

OrangeHRM are user-friendly, cloud-based resource management and HR tool suitable for businesses of all sizes and in all fields. In fact, the solution is used by more than 3.5 million users around the world, 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 all about why Open Source Software is good for small businesses here.

OrangeHRM does offer paid plans, but the solution is basically 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. Is the level of customizability means the solution is flexible and easily scalable, which means as your business grows, you won’t find yourself in a position where you must migrate to another system, which can be very annoying time-consuming.

What 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 will need to do the implementation on your own servers and maintain the solution (and the hardware it’s installed on).

Customer support is not included in the free version, and things like updates and bug fixes cost extra. 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 excellent features. These features include time and leave management,  admin operations, file cabinet, 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. The employee self-service portal gives employees to 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 business valuable time, money, and human power.

Zoho People acts as a complete HR solution available online, which means you can access it from anywhere. It allows you to manage and access all your employee data from a single location.

What you get for free

  • Leave Management
  • Employee self-service
  • Basic HRIS


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 instead meant as a free trial that will force you to eventually upgrade to a paid plan if you wish to continue using the solution.



ICR HRM is an HR management system for startups, small and mid-sized businesses. The solution has a rich user interface that was built with PHP and Javascript. 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 easily update all employee information with the click of a button. The timesheets feature is excellent, especially that you can easily export it as an excel file so you can use it with other applications or import it to another platform.

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

What 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 5 users. However, you can still use the solution for free, but you will need to host it on your own servers and do the maintenance yourself.

ICE HRM is also missing some important functions altogether. These include document management, audit trails, and custom HR forms. You will also need to do the troubleshooting yourself as the support is pretty much non-existent, and you will need to find out the answers to your questions and problems on your own.



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

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

OnPay will automatically enter payroll information such as work hours, benefits, and reimbursements. 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. The vendor offers top-notch customer service that will solve whatever issues you might face quickly and efficiently.

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

What you get for free?

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

The good thing is that whichever paid plan you choose, you get everything they offer, 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 easier. 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.

Final Words:

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

We hope we made the process of making a decision a bit simpler for you. If this has helped you make a decision, please tell us in the comments.

Do you have experience using any of the systems mentioned in this article? Please share your thoughts about this experience with us in a comment below!

As always, we would love it if you shared the article with friends or colleagues who might find it helpful as well.

Posted In HR Software

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One thought on “Best Free HR Software for Startups

  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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