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Zenefits is a digital HR solution that offers core HR functions to help your startup thrive, such as employee onboarding, time tracking, payroll and benefits administration. The software has a simple user interface.
Zenefits by TriNet is a digital human resources (HR) solution for small and midsize businesses, and its features make it especially useful for startups. There are three tiered service plans, multiple add-on options and monthly and annual rates – all of which make it the ideal product for businesses that need HR software that can scale with them as their organizations change and grow. Zenefits offers core HR services like HR administration, employee onboarding, benefits administration, payroll, time and attendance tracking, and performance management. Its mobile app and employee self-service features put some HR functions in the hands of your employees, freeing you up to focus on other business operations. With these tools and benefits in mind, we found Zenefits to be the best HR software for startups.
9.4 / 10
We like the Zenefits platform as an HR solution for startups because of its wide range of services and features. The vendor offers various plans and add-ons, so new businesses can easily select the package that best fits their current needs. Then, as their needs change, they can scale up or down to a different plan that accommodates their evolving workforce. Additionally, the Zenefits platform can support full-time employees and contractors, which can be helpful for startups that need to manage and pay various types of workers.
It’s easy to manage your growing organization with the Zenefits employee directory. Source: Zenefits
Zenefits provides essential HR services to help you manage your workforce, such as recruitment tools, automated employee onboarding, performance management features, employee scheduling, time tracking and payroll processing. These key functions make it simple for startups to stay on top of HR responsibilities while getting their businesses off the ground.
When offering employee benefits, you can partner with Zenefits’ certified brokers or use your own, giving you the flexibility to choose the best benefits administration option for your organization and budget. We also like that the platform is intuitive and has a simple user interface so employers and employees alike can navigate it with ease.
Employees can use the Zenefits mobile app to complete HR-related tasks, such as clocking in and out, requesting time off, accessing the employee directory, viewing pay stubs, and managing benefits.
One of our favorite aspects of Zenefits is its ease of use. When we tested the software, we found the user interface to be modern and simple to navigate. You can automate HR processes, like employee onboarding, which helps speed up HR functions. Since employees have access to a variety of self-service features, they can easily take control of some individual-level HR tasks. Furthermore, the Zenefits platform integrates with more than 40 third-party applications. While this is fewer than some other systems we reviewed, we still found the available integrations enough to simplify and streamline many business processes.
If you want to try the software before signing up, you can easily create a demo account on Zenefits’ website and test the program risk-free. You simply enter basic information, like your name, contact information, and company name and size, to get started; no credit card or setup time is required. Zenefits recommends certain features that are typically useful for a company of your size (e.g., automated onboarding, payroll, time tracking, employee benefits, HR support), but you can customize which tools you want to try. We like that you can view a guided tour that walks you through how to use each feature or you can do a live demo with sample data. This allows business owners to see how the platform works and assess whether it’s right for their enterprise without any commitment.
Zenefits offers the core HR functions needed to manage employees. Although the specific tools you can access will depend on which plan and add-ons you sign up for, here are a few of Zenefits’ top features.
If your business is in its growing stages, you know that recruiting and onboarding can be a laborious yet essential part of HR. Zenefits offers Zenefits Recruiting powered by JazzHR as an optional add-on for those who want to streamline the candidate sourcing and recruiting process. However, even without the add-on, Zenefits can help with the onboarding process through its automated onboarding tools with digital offer letters and templates. We like that Zenefits also provides employee self-onboarding functionality, as this can help reduce errors and take some of the burden off your HR staff or whoever is onboarding your new hires.
If you want your new employees to grow with your organization, we recommend taking advantage of Zenefits’ performance management tools, like performance reviews, goal setting and tracking, employee engagement surveys, and well-being assessments.
Similar to what other HR solutions offer, Zenefits has assets like digital documents with e-signatures, an employee system of record, document management tools, and company directories and organizational charts. The system also integrates with background check service Checkr, so you can easily work such screenings into your onboarding process. Plus, because Zenefits facilitates automated workflows, you can rest assured that no onboarding steps will be missed – a key benefit for busy startups.
Zenefits’ Growth and Zen plans include performance management features. Source: Zenefits
Some HR software companies require you to use them as a benefits broker, while others let you supply your own broker. We like that Zenefits gives you a choice. It has certified brokers and can provide employee benefits like medical, dental and vision insurance; health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs); commuter benefits; 401(k) retirement plans; life and disability insurance; and supplemental benefits. Notably, if you decide to administer benefits through a Zenefits-certified broker, it’s free for plans with annual billing.
If you want to use your own benefits broker, the vendor allows it but will charge you an additional $5 per employee per month. Either way, we found this level of flexibility to be especially useful for startups, as newer businesses may or may not already have a benefits broker they want to work with.
When testing Zenefits’ services, we loved that every plan comes with time and attendance features like employee scheduling and time-off tracking. In terms of scheduling, you can create and edit shifts, build employee schedules around specific times or roles, and receive automated schedule notifications.
Employees can clock in and out, and you can track their locations with geolocation features. Zenefits also offers standard time-off tools like PTO policy management, time-off requests and approvals, time-off blackout dates, and a PTO balance calculator. Zenefits automatically syncs time and attendance data with its payroll module. These features are on par with industry standards.
Zenefits makes it easy to request, approve and deny time off. Source: Zenefits
If you choose to add Zenefits’ payroll module to your HR plan, you’ll get access to features like unlimited pay runs, direct deposit, garnishment support, tips reporting and general ledger reporting. We like that you can also set multiple schedules and pay rates, as well as handle contractor payments.
When we tested the software, we found the payroll solution easy to navigate. It has a calendar for pay periods and a list of paid and pending pay runs, and it displays a big banner notifying you when you need to approve your next pay run.
Zenefits’ compensation management features help ensure you’re paying staff competitively. Source: Zenefits
We appreciate that Zenefits has multiple plans and add-on services; that makes it easy for startups and growing businesses to find a package that’s tailored to their current needs and then scale it as their needs grow. Unlike some rival companies, Zenefits offers both monthly and annual payment options, adding to its flexibility. The chart below will help you compare the different plan options.
Services and features
$8 per employee per month (billed annually) or $10 per employee per month (billed monthly)
Automated onboarding, employee scheduling and management, time-off tracking, integrations, mobile app, and an analytics dashboard
$16 per employee per month (billed annually) or $18 per employee per month (billed monthly)
Everything in the Essentials plan, plus compensation management, performance management and configurable people analytics
$21 per employee per month (billed annually) or $27 per employee per month (billed monthly)
Everything in the Growth plan, plus employee engagement surveys and a people hub
You can also add extra features to your Zenefits platform for an additional fee.
As mentioned above, if you want to test the software before you make a purchase, Zenefits offers a free demo that allows you to play around with sample HR information. If you’d like to try a provider with a more traditional free trial, see our review of Paycor.
Zenefits also supports companies with contingent workers, billed at just $6 per month each. You’re charged only for contingent workers who are active in the Zenefits system each month.
We love that the Zenefits platform is quick to implement. Some small businesses, like startups, can be up and running in just a couple of weeks, depending on how long it takes to import company information and policies. You can use the provider’s self-service implementation method to set up your company and employee profiles, hiring process, policies, and more on your own. Helpfully, Zenefits provides you with an implementation checklist.
Larger companies can choose a guided implementation process. This involves working with a Zenefits implementation manager to map out an implementation and onboarding plan and set up your account. This process typically takes about four to six weeks, which is on par with the industry standard for larger organizations.
Zenefits has a few methods for reaching customer support. Phone and web chat support are both available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. You can receive customer service through email as well. We found this to be similar to what competitors offer.
We like that Zenefits offers advisory services, although this requires an additional monthly fee. HR and payroll experts can help you with things like managing difficult employees or compliance issues, navigating overtime regulations, and handling wage garnishments and levies. This add-on is worth considering if you think you may need a little extra help with your HR tasks. However, there are also some self-help options, such as an online training portal and knowledge base, in addition to an HR-focused blog called Workest by Zenefits.
Although partnering with Zenefits has many advantages, we did notice a few limitations in our research. For example, Zenefits has a five-employee minimum for its base plans and add-ons. You can still partner with Zenefits if you have fewer than five employees, but you’ll have to pay for at least five people. While this won’t be an issue for most employers, it tends to shut out companies with only one or two workers.
Another notable drawback is Zenefits’ customer service. Some customer reviews claim the Zenefits support team can be difficult to get ahold of. If customer support is a top priority for you, you may want to check out our review of Gusto and our GoCo review. Both companies offer top-rated HR software with similarly top-notch support.
We investigated and analyzed dozens of HR systems to find the best HR software on the market. Our research focused on pricing, contracts, recruiting and onboarding tools, employee benefits administration, time-tracking features, payroll processing, performance management features, reports, integrations, legal compliance assistance, usability, and customer service options. Whenever possible, we watched product videos and participated in demos. To identify the best HR software for startups specifically, we prioritized pricing, scalability, employee onboarding tools, usability, employee self-service options, and payroll and benefits administration.
Yes. Zenefits is a reliable company that offers a full suite of HR software features. Although the vendor’s customer service may fall short at times, the software itself is reliable, intuitive and easy to navigate.
Direct deposit funds are transferred with Zenefits in one or two banking days after the check date; the exact deposit time will vary by bank. If direct deposit funds don’t successfully post to a valid bank account within roughly five to seven banking days of submission, Zenefits will return the funds to the company payroll account.