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Gusto HR Software Review Review

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
Staff writer
business.com Staff
Updated Aug 12, 2022

Gusto not only handles all of your payroll processing and payroll tax responsibilities, but it can also serve all of your company’s human resources needs. This cloud-hosted solution is easy to use and available in multiple service plans with several add-on options. Gusto’s HR services include health insurance administration, time tracking, paid-time-off (PTO) management and access to certified HR pros who can assist you with any HR or payroll issues. For these reasons and more, we selected Gusto as the best HR software for payroll processing.

Gusto HR Software Review Review

Gusto HR Software

The Verdict

Gusto is ideal for employers that want advanced payroll capabilities. Users can onboard new hires, administer employee benefits, track hours and paid time off, run payroll, and automatically file payroll taxes.

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Gusto Editor’s Score: 9.7/10

Price/value9.8/10
Features9.8/10
Customizations, add-ons and integrations9.9/10
Ease of use9.8/10
Customer support9/10

Why We Chose Gusto as Best for Payroll

Gusto provides comprehensive HR features, but the company’s payroll offering is where Gusto shines high above the competition. When testing the software, we found the platform intuitive and easy to navigate, with simple payroll processing automation. The software provides helpful tools, like sending payroll alerts and reminders, automatically syncing employee hours, and automatically calculating and filing payroll taxes. Other features include multistate payroll, garnishments, time-tracking integrations, new-hire reporting, next-day direct deposit, and a payroll calendar.

When we tested the Gusto platform, we liked that it allows you to make changes to payroll if needed, even after it’s submitted. If you want to automate payroll, Gusto offers that, too. And because Gusto is a benefits broker, the platform can easily sync employee benefits, like workers’ compensation, with your payroll.

Did you know?Did you know? Gusto offers an autopilot feature, which is a great option if employees’ pay doesn’t fluctuate each pay period. This tool runs payroll on your schedule without any additional input needed from you.

What We Like About Gusto

  • Gusto offers multiple tiered plans with a wide range of add-ons.
  • The software can be implemented in less than a week.
  • An interactive demo lets you test the software before signing up.
  • Gusto doesn’t require long-term contracts.

What We Don’t Like About Gusto

  • Opting for all of the add-on features can quickly rack up your monthly per-person cost.
  • Gusto has fewer performance management features than some other HR solutions we reviewed.

Gusto’s Ease of Use

Part of Gusto’s appeal is how simple it is to use. The cloud-hosted service doesn’t require you to install or maintain any special software; you can access the payroll system from any web browser, smartphone or tablet. 

When testing out the software, we liked that the platform’s homepage prominently features important to-do items, such as payroll run dates and time-off requests. You can easily see or edit employee details and be reminded about which contractors need to be paid.

Gusto dashboard
Gusto’s dashboard gives you a clear view of important to-do items and reminders.

Gusto gives your employees and contractors their own login credentials, so they can access the software to see their paystubs, time-off accruals and year-end forms. Gusto offers lifetime access to these accounts, so employees can log in to their accounts even after they have left your company. 

Gusto Features

Gusto offers multiple service plans, so the exact features available to you will depend on your plan. Here are some of the features Gusto can provide:

Payroll

Gusto has a ton of features to help businesses quickly and accurately run payroll. You can use Gusto to pay full- and part-time W-2 employees, as well as freelancers, consultants and other 1099 contractors – a distinction that not all HR solutions offer. Gusto allows for multistate payroll, as well as multiple pay rates and schedules.

  • Payroll processing: When testing out Gusto, we liked how simple it was to do payroll. Once you enter all the pertinent information – such as the pay rate, hours worked and deductions – into the software, the system automatically calculates payroll. Each pay period, the only new information you need to input are how many hours your hourly employees worked and any bonuses or commissions they earned. After clicking the Submit Payroll link, you receive a confirmation that the money is being sent via direct deposit or that checks can be printed. If your payroll is pretty consistent, you can set the system to run on autopilot. With this setting, payroll automatically runs each pay period without any input from you. You can run payroll as many times as necessary each month for no additional cost. This flexibility is particularly valuable if you have a combination of full-time employees, part-time employees and freelancers.
  • Payment options: Gusto provides several ways to pay employees: direct deposit, prepaid debit cards and printed checks. With direct deposit, paycheck amounts are automatically deposited into each worker’s bank account on payday. Prepaid debit cards work similarly: Paychecks are automatically deposited onto the cards on payday. If you prefer to pay workers with checks, you can print them right from your printer. While no special software is needed for this, you do need check stock paper.
  • Payroll taxes: Similar to other HR solutions we reviewed, Gusto can handle all payroll tax responsibilities for you. The software automatically calculates your payroll taxes and fills out and files the required tax forms with each local, state and federal agency. Gusto also submits all of the required payroll payments on your business’s behalf.

Recruiting and Onboarding

When we tested Gusto, we noticed that it had an in-app applicant tracking system (ATS), so users don’t have to pay for a separate ATS (which some competitors make you do). The Gusto ATS features might not be as robust as many third-party ATS options, but the system is comprehensive enough to handle standard recruiting and onboarding processes. Onboarding tools include offer letters and e-signature documents, employee directories, organizational charts, custom onboarding checklists, software provisioning and document management. We like how Gusto can also streamline onboarding by allowing employees to fill out their own information within the platform.

Gusto employee onboarding
Employee onboarding is easy with Gusto.

Time and Attendance

Depending on the service plan you select, Gusto can manage some or all of your tasks related to tracking employee hours and PTO. You can set up policies for vacation and sick time and then track employees’ accruals and balances. Both the Concierge and Complete plans can handle time-off requests. Employees submit their requests in the software, and their managers can approve or deny those requests. What’s more, select plans sync approved time off with your payroll and shared calendars.

Gusto time management
Your employees can track and manage their time on a variety of devices.

Benefits Administration

Gusto offers online benefits enrollment for employees, as well as licensed benefits advising and employee support, which is competitive with the industry standard. Additional benefits include 401(k) retirement savings plans, 529 college savings plans, health benefits, workers’ compensation insurance, commuter benefits, health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). We like that these features directly integrate with your Gusto payroll.

Legal Compliance

Gusto helps businesses maintain legal compliance on multiple fronts. For example, Gusto completes and files all of the required paperwork with the state for each new employee your company hires. The software also automatically generates all year-end W-2 and 1099 tax forms for your employees, and then sends digital copies of the forms to each employee and contractor.

If you are administering employee benefits, Gusto also helps you comply with federal regulations such as the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. These essential features are competitive with the industry standard.

Integrations

Gusto’s HR software integrates with hundreds of popular programs for accounting, time and attendance, point of sale, business operations, tax preparation, learning and development, business insights, hiring and onboarding, performance management, expense management, and more. Having such a variety of integration capabilities is highly convenient for businesses that want to sync all of their business applications to create a customized solution.

Gusto HR Software’s Pricing and Terms

Unlike some payroll services that offer only one or two plans, Gusto gives businesses a choice of five service plans. Each plan includes payroll processing and payroll tax services, but beyond that, the plans differ in the number of HR features and tools they include.

  • Contractor: $0 per month, plus $6 per contractor per month
  • Simpe: $40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month
  • Plus: $80 per month, plus $12 per employee per month
  • Premium: Custom pricing based on client needs

Access to multiple service plans can be beneficial for businesses that don’t have a full-time HR team, letting you switch plans at any time as the size and needs of your business grow. For example, you can start with the Concierge plan to get specialized help in creating an employee handbook and job descriptions and then easily change to one of the less-expensive plans when you no longer need those services.

FYIFYI: Gusto does not require you to sign a long-term contract; you pay month to month. There are no setup fees or penalties for canceling. This means you can test the service for a couple of payroll runs and, if it isn’t meeting your needs, cancel without incurring any penalties.

You may also incur costs for any added services that you elect to include with your Gusto plan. We were impressed with Gusto’s wide range of add-ons, which include the following.

  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Gusto doesn’t charge you administration fees; you pay only for the premiums. These pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation plans integrate with your payroll.
  • Health insurance: Again, you won’t pay administration fees, just the premiums.
  • Broker integration: If you want to keep your current benefits broker, Gusto can integrate them (in most cases) into the system for an additional $6 per eligible employee per month.
  • 401(k) retirement savings plans: Pricing varies
  • 529 college savings plan: Employees can set aside a portion of their earnings for education expenses. Gusto charges $6 a month per participant, with an $18 monthly minimum. There are no setup fees.
  • Health savings account (HSA): Gusto doesn’t have a minimum if you want to offer an HSA with your other insurance benefits. The cost is $2.50 per participant per month.
  • Flexible spending account (FSA): Adding an FSA costs $4 per participant per month. There is a $20 minimum.
  • Dependent care FSA: If you want to offer a pretax FSA for qualified dependent care expenses, you can add it to your plan for $4 per participant per month. There is a $20 minimum.
  • Commuter benefits: Commuter benefits are pretax dollars workers can use to pay for transportation to your workplace. Gusto charges $4 per participant per month, and there is a $20 minimum.

Gusto also offers unique features such as international contractor payments, state tax registration, and research and development tax credits for various fees.

Implementation and Onboarding

When we tested out the Gusto platform, we were impressed by how quick the implementation process was. The software puts onboarding in employees’ hands, so each team member can fill out their own contact information and details directly within the platform. This not only speeds up implementation but can also help reduce data-entry errors. A Gusto representative told us a company could implement the platform in as little as one weekend, assuming all of the correct information is on hand and employees onboard themselves. This was impressive, seeing as some competitors can take weeks, or even months, to fully implement the system.

Customer Support

We like that Gusto offers multiple ways to reach customer support: You can contact a representative by phone, email or webchat. Concierge plan members receive assistance from a dedicated support team and get a direct phone line for support. Concierge accounts also come with access to certified HR professionals who can offer help and advice on a range of HR and employee relations issues. The HR resource center includes custom employee handbooks, job description templates, HR guides and policy templates, and proactive compliance updates.

In addition to offering personal guidance to its subscribers, Gusto provides several valuable tools on its website, like a help center and FAQs. One of the most impressive features we found was the demo of the payroll software. You can test a fully interactive simulation of the software that allows you to see and browse every aspect of the system, as well as add new employees and test other important functions that pertain to your business. Not many competitors offer comprehensive demos like this. 

Limitations

While there is a lot to like about Gusto, we uncovered a potential drawback during our research: Gusto’s primary HR services don’t include robust performance management features. The Complete and Concierge plans do allow users to send anonymous employee surveys and view survey trend analyses, but if you are looking for HR software that excels in employee performance management, check out our review of Paycor or our GoCo review. Keep in mind that Gusto users do have the option to integrate with third-party performance management solutions such as 15Five, Culture Amp and PerformYard.

Methodology

We researched and analyzed dozens of human resources systems to identify the best HR software on the market. We looked at pricing, contracts, recruiting and onboarding capabilities, employee benefits administration, time-tracking features, payroll processing, performance management features, reports, integrations, legal compliance assistance, usability and customer support. We watched product videos and conducted demos when possible. When looking for the best HR software for payroll specifically, we prioritized features such as payroll processing, payroll tax administration, time and attendance, legal compliance, and integrations.

FAQs

Is Gusto payroll free?

While it’s not technically free, the cost of processing payroll is already included in the monthly per-person fee. This means Gusto plans come with full-service payroll. Keep in mind that the pay features included in the contractor-only plan differ from those in the other Gusto plans.

Can I trust Gusto?

Yes, Gusto is a trustworthy HR solution that is frequently rated among the top payroll providers on the market. As such, if you choose Gusto, you can rest assured that certain HR services, like employee onboarding and payroll, will be handled with respect to current employment laws and regulations.

Bottom Line

We recommend Gusto for …

  • Businesses that need a comprehensive payroll provider.
  • Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
  • Companies with employees or contractors.
  • Businesses that don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract.

We don’t recommend Gusto for …

  • Companies looking for robust performance management features.
  • Large organizations or enterprises.
Gusto HR Software Review Review

Gusto HR Software

The Verdict

Gusto is ideal for employers that want advanced payroll capabilities. Users can onboard new hires, administer employee benefits, track hours and paid time off, run payroll, and automatically file payroll taxes.

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Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
business.com Staff
Skye Schooley is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has written more than 200 articles on B2B-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and business technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products that help business owners launch and grow their business, Skye writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.