Updated 21 December 2016. I’ve added two more option for small business payroll management.
If you didn’t have to hire, manage, and pay employees, life would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, that plan ends up with you sitting alone in a dark room, trying to do everything for your business while slowly losing your mind. Luckily, you can pay someone else to take care of this stuff. Payroll services will take the burden off you, give your employees a regular paycheck, and some can even manage your payroll taxes.
For many companies, hiring someone to manage HR operations like paying employees and managing benefits is cost prohibitive. Payroll services cost substantially less than hiring a new employee and can take a lot of work off your plate.
Here are five small business payroll services to compare.
Gusto can manage a whole host of HR processes, from health to 401(k)s. The company’s payroll offering allows employees to self-onboard and gives you plenty of tools to make the process as easy as possible on your end.
Gusto integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks, so you can slide it right into your existing workflow without any major concerns. It includes a nice set of flexibility features, allowing you to give employees multiple hourly rates, manage time off requests, and share access with your accountant.
Gusto starts at $39 per month, plus $6 per employee, per month.
Inuit’s full-service payroll option covers basically everything. All you do is enter the hours to pay your employees for, and Intuit does the rest. In this case, “the rest” includes direct deposits, tax preparation, and even tax filing. The company also offers smaller options, which still manage payments, but which require you to do more work on the tax end.
Intuit also supports a wide range of secondary payroll features. You can add in health insurance contributions, 401(k) deductions, IRA payments, and other retirement plans. Pay period deductions can be modified with catchup payments for your older employees, as well.
Intuit’s options range from $25 per month to $99 per month, depending on how much handholding you’d like. All the options cost an additional $2 per month, per employee.
OnPay is one of the newer payroll service providers on the scene, but reviewers and users have been happy with its offering. Like Intuit, OnPay can manage payments, payroll taxes, and can pay your employees by direct deposit or print-on-demand checks.
OnPay is geared toward the sub-100 employees end of the small-business spectrum, though it can handle larger customers. Recent updates have expanded the software’s feature set, which is impressive. OnPay offers 401(k) support, payroll tax deductions and filings, employee logins, and integration with many of the bigger accounting software providers.
OnPay costs $36 per month plus $4 per employee per month. Direct deposit and all other features are included in that fee, so there’s nothing else to budget for.
Patriot – a Capterra reviewer favorite with 5/5 stars from over 400 reviews – has two different payroll options. The basic service comes with free direct deposit, W-2 printing, and an employee portal so that your folks can manage themselves by themselves.
The full service offering will take care of all your taxes, as well. Everything from federal right down to local. Done, filed, sorted, without you having to pull it all together at the last minute.
Pricing starts at $10 per month for the basic payroll, with each additional employee adding around $2 per month – the price drops as you add more folks. The full service option starts at $25 per month, with additional employees running $4 per month, with the same sliding scale caveat.
Paychex is one of the biggest payroll processors around. The company claims that it “pays 1 in 15 US private sector workers.” Paychex Flex is the company’s online, payroll service option.
Paychex offers a lot of optional features. You can have checks issued, use direct deposit, or even use prepaid debit cards to pay your employees. The service can also administer retirement plans, do your taxes, and garnish wages when the IRS comes after your vice-president of sales.
Most reviewers have suggested that Paychex is best suited to companies with under 50 employees and it excels at managing complex payment systems, like if your business spans state lines. Paychex doesn’t advertising its pricing model.
A relative newcomer, Wagepoint is a simple, clean option for small business payrolls. The company offers automatic deductions for 401(k) contributions, health insurance, and union dues, along with a whole host of other options.
Wagepoint has been adding new features along the way, so the service of 2016 may look very different from the service of 2015. I met the folks who run the show at a conference in New York earlier in 2015, and I was very impressed.
The CEO told me that in the first days of the company’s operation, they experienced a glitch which resulted in some employees being mispaid at one client company. To make things right, Wagepoint paid the employees of the affected company out of its own pocket. That’s how you respond to a customer issue.
Wagepoint costs $20 per pay period, plus $2 per employee, and is running smooth and glitch free, these days.
Zenefits has always integrated with external payroll providers, but it recently launched an internal payroll system, as well. Right now, the product is only available for companies based in California, Washington, Texas, and Florida, with a planned rollout nationwide as soon as possible.
The payroll offering from Zenefits has all sorts of interesting features, largely based on the core Zenefits set of modules. Time clocked, benefits changes, and other HR moves are all instantly reflected in payroll. You can also go into the paystub preview and make line item edits, giving you a lot of control over your payroll operation.
The system cost $35 per month, plus $5 per employee, per month.
Like most business software, payroll services aren’t black and white, good and bad. Depending on the size of your business, your payment frequency, and the number of benefits you offer, you’re going to have very specific best options.
If you need more, check out Capterra’s full payroll software directory. We can point you in the right direction, and get you spending more time on growing your business.
Looking for Payroll software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Payroll software solutions.