Best Payroll Software

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Making sure you stay on top of payroll is a key piece of the puzzle when you’re running a business. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be yet another stressful task to manage once you find the best payroll software. 

The Best 5 Payroll Software Options

  • Intuit QuickBooks – Best for accurate tax management
  • Bamboo HR – Best for managing the entire employee lifecycle 
  • Gusto – Best for new businesses
  • Workful – Best for working with timesheets
  • Paylocity – Best for employee self-service

What is Payroll Software?

Payroll software enables businesses of all sizes to track, manage, and pay their employees. It allows you to keep a history of your payment records and ensures you’re making accurate payroll every time. With a payroll system in place, you streamline the payroll process, save time, and steer clear of mismanagement that could lead to payroll inaccuracies. 

Do I need Payroll Software?

If you have employees, you need payroll software. Without a reliable payroll system that keeps all your employee records organized and accounted for, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to operate well–or at least as well as possible. 

Here are a few specific signs to look out for when you’re thinking about whether or not to start using a payroll system. 

You’re Crunched for Time

Payday might be one of the best days for your employees…but if payroll is taking up all your time, it probably isn’t one of yours. 

If you have no real system to help you manage payday in a way that takes the stress out of the process, you might want to move getting payroll software higher up on your to-do list. 

You Dread Tax Season

Tax season can be one of the busier times of the year when it comes to administrative management. If you constantly find yourself dreading it because you know you’re going to have to go on a scavenger hunt for pay stubs and expense sheets, then you’re due for reliable payroll software.

The beauty of payroll software is that once configured, it can run in the background taking note of every key piece of information you’ll need for filing your taxes. Some payroll software even comes with dedicated tax support experts that can guide you through the process. 

You’re Moving Away From Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are largely responsible for managing their own paychecks, including putting money away for state and federal taxes. With contractors, you’re keeping track of finished projects and paying them as per your agreement. Generally, this can be done without onboarding hefty software. 

However, if your business is growing large enough to where you’re onboarding employees, you’ll want to take advantage of the streamlined process and peace of mind payroll software can provide. 

You’re Forgetting Payments or Constantly Making Payroll Errors

You’re human. This means you might sometimes make errors no matter what system you’re working with. Fortunately, mistakes like forgetting payments or not consistently calculating accurate payroll can be eliminated with the right payroll software.

With payroll software, errors and missed payroll deadlines can be a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll have a neatly logged payroll history you can refer to with accuracy and peace of mind.

Now here’s a look at some of the top payroll software for any business. Read on to learn which one fits your business best.  

Intuit QuickBooks – Best For Accurate Tax Management

If you’re already using any other Intuit software, then signing up for Intuit QuickBooks is pretty much a no-brainer. QuickBooks’ strength lies in helping you take care of all your payroll needs and setting you up for success come tax time.

This includes tools like auto payroll, which has set-it-and-forget-it features that automate taxes, forms, and next-day direct deposits to employees. You can also seamlessly e-file 1099 MISC and NEC forms with the IRS. 

Do you need to issue health benefits as part of your employment packages? With QuickBooks, you can manage all employee health benefits and 401(k) plans in one dashboard. Once tax time comes around the corner, you’ll be able to seamlessly use all your data to file with Intuit’s TurboTax services. 

Intuit QuickBooks’ pricing starts with its Core tier at $22.50 a month and ranges up to its Elite tier at $62.50 a month. It also offers a 30-day free trial so you can test drive it before making a real commitment. 


  • Offers guided payroll setup to ensure you start off right
  • It’ll transfer your payroll data from your old system
  • Cost-effective as a small business solution when compared to competitor software


  • Depending on the pricing tier you go with, there’s an added fee for any additional employees added 
  • Lacking well-rounded tracking and analytics features
  • Customer support quality differs depending on pricing tier chosen

Bamboo HR – Best For Managing The Entire Employee Life Cycle

Sometimes you need reliable software that does more than simply take care of payroll. Bamboo HR ensures you’re taking care of the employee life cycle from beginning to end. 

With Bamboo HR’s hybrid software, you can be sure your payroll is accurate and up to date while also managing the onboarding process, keeping accurate track of compensation, and analyzing your employee data. 

Bamboo HR makes it possible to keep track of employee records from when they start at your company to when they offboard. Tasks like talent development, retention, or tracking PTO are no longer bogged down by endless trails of paperwork in a dozen different folders or databases. 

With an interface that’s easy to navigate, Bamboo HR centralizes your workforce’s key information in one place. In other words, it’s one HR tool to replace them all.  

If you’re interested in Bamboo HR, you can get a free price quote tailored to you once you answer a few simple questions. You can also take advantage of its free trial to get a feel for what it’s like in action. 


  • Centralized storage and management of employee data
  • Comes with a mobile app for on-the-go management
  • Intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate


  • Smaller businesses may not need all its features and tools
  • Limited role permissions and e-signature features
  • More frequent software updates

Gusto – Best For New Businesses

New businesses need payroll systems to ensure everything is up to par, too. Gusto is a great option for new business owners that need to get a system in place on a budget. 

With Gusto you can easily keep track of employee benefits, issue paper checks, take care of health insurance needs and 401(k)s, and set payroll on autopilot. 

As a payroll solution for new businesses, Gusto offers a no-nonsense intuitive dashboard. Rather than giving you a huge suite of tools you won’t use, it sets you up with the essentials that’ll keep your workforce paid and your processes compliant. 

Gusto offers four distinct pricing tiers each tailored to where you are on your business journey starting with the Core tier at $39 a month base price with an additional $6 a month per person all the way up to the Concierge tier with a $149 base price and $12 a month per person.


  • Easily manage PTO, vacations, and sick time
  • Sync with your calendar to stay on top of dates and milestones
  • Employees can easily track hours on a per-project basis


  • Higher tiers can be a pricey investment for small businesses 
  • Does not offer a downloadable app option
  • Only processes payroll for US employees 

Workful – Best For Working With Timesheets

Depending on your industry, timesheets can be a crucial part of making sure everyone is getting paid. That’s where Workful comes in. 

With its employee time tracking tools, Workful makes sure you’re accurately keeping track of each employee’s hours without having to add another administrative task to your management workflow. 

Mobile time clocks enable your employees to self-manage as they clock in, clock out, and take breaks. Meanwhile, your timesheet is synced to your payroll system for easier automated management and accurate payroll data. Employees also have easy access to their timesheets by simply logging on at their convenience. 

Workful gives you access to everything it offers at a flat $25 a month fee plus a $5 monthly fee per employee. Before you commit though, I recommend you take advantage of its 30-day free trial to really get a feel for the user experience. 


  • Easily integrates with QuickBooks 
  • Auto-calculates time accrual
  • Employee onboarding and expense tracking


  • No administrative app provided
  • Might not offer a rich array of tools compared to competitors
  • Might not be able to file payroll taxes in all states

Paylocity – Best For Employee Self-Service

Part of running a great payroll system is ensuring employees are equipped to help themselves. Paylocity offers robust employee self-service features that can ensure your employees are staying on top of their hours, time off, and pay stubs. 

Paylocity also ensures your employees can request time off, clock in and out, update personal data, and even communicate with each other, as well as enroll in benefit coverage and get access to their benefit cards. Timesheets, past checks, schedules, and tax forms are also at your employees’ fingertips with the mobile app. 

Paylocity doesn’t publicly list its prices. So if you want to learn more about what it’ll cost you, you’ll have to answer a few questions and request a free demo. 


  • Easily add reimbursements to employee paychecks
  • Employees can get access to earned wages before payday if needed
  • Paylocity experts help you ensure you’re filing taxes correctly


  • Can be costly depending on the size and needs of your business
  • Limited integrations
  • Not as intuitive to learn and use as other software


What’s the best payroll software for you? Gusto is a great option for new businesses trying to get a handle on their payroll. If your business heavily relies on keeping accurate timesheets, then Workful can help you ensure you’re tracking your employees’ time at work accurately. If you’re looking for a payroll tool that comprehensively takes care of the entire employee lifecycle, take a closer look at Bamboo HR. 

Here’s a quick recap of our guide: 

  • Intuit QuickBooks – Best for accurate tax management
  • Bamboo HR – Best for managing the entire employee life cycle
  • Gusto – Best for new businesses
  • Workful – Best for working with timesheets
  • Paylocity – Best for employee self-service

If you have employees to pay and keep track of, you need payroll software. It’s the best way to ensure you’re accurately filing your taxes come tax season, keeping track of your employee’s work history, and ensuring they get the benefits they’re entitled to.

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