Free HR Software Solutions for Small Business and Startups

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If you are a startup or a small business looking to get an HR software, then you may already know: There areso 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 meanit’s can be quite hard and confusing to choose the right HR software for your business.

However, it also means there are plenty of free HR software systems to choose from.

Cost is something that’s critical for any business, not only small businesses and startups, we are going to take a look at some of the best free HR software solutions for business in this article.

Best Free HR Software Solutions for Small Business

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


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

The solution helps businesses go paperless by allowing them to moveall 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 request. You will also be able to easily create 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, Gusto doesn’t limit you a certain number of payrolls, 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 is a cloud-based collaboration and project management software that helps with all your HR-related tasks. Bitrix24 offers 25 free HR tools that can give you all the HR features and functions you need.

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

As 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.

Bitrix24 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, but if you are looking for something more specialized in project management, we highly recommend taking a look at the best 11 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 of Bitrix24 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 systemis not included in the free plan.

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


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

The solution offers features such as 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 always 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 appand PTO tracksadd a new layer of functionality to the solution.

Zenefits’ features include personnel management, onboarding, and off boarding. 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’sfree version is functional but pretty barebones, especially when 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.


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 offersreferral 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 a number of third-party apps and services such as Facebook, Google Calendar, Freshsales, and Freshdek.

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.


OrangeHRM isa user-friendly, cloud-based resource management and HR tool that is 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 level of customizability means the solution is flexibleand easily scalable, which means as your business grow, you won’t find yourself in a position where you must migrate to another system, which can be very annoying and 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 as well as 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 fixescost extra. There are also some limitations which could be problematic for advanced users. For example, you won’t be able to keep an audit trail on system changes or customize workflows.

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 accessand 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 that’s available online, which means you can access it from anywhere, and 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 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 time sheets
  • 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 as well as your 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 be able to solve whatever issues you might face quickly and efficiently.

OnPay’s main strength lays in its simplicity. The solution is very easy 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 after that,you need to choose a plan. 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 thingis 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. Similar to 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, to be completely fair, this remains a possibility with any payroll software.

We know choosing is not easy, it almost never 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 solutions 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 about in the comments.

Do you have experience using any of the systems mentioned in this article? 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 “Free HR Software Solutions for Small Business and 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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