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The best HR software for small business

HR software can help you with recruitment, payroll, onboarding new members of your workforce, and managing staff performance. We’re going to look at some of the factors to consider when picking the best HR software solution for your small business. 

What is HR software?

Managing a workforce can become a complex operation as your business grows. HR software can not only help to make this process easier, it can also ensure you get the best out of your staff. 

Whilst there are wide range of HR products on the market, these usually include features that will help you to:

  • recruit and hire staff
  • onboard new members of staff
  • organise and schedule training
  • operate payroll
  • manage tax and national insurance contributions
  • coordinate and manage staff benefits.



Do I need HR software?

If you already use accounting software with payroll integration (such as Sage or Xero), your HR software needs will be different. In this case, you might be looking for a software solution that will help in relation to recruitment or training.

Some businesses, though, will be looking for an all-in-one solution including all the features outlined in the previous section. 

It is well worth looking at your current software providers and seeing what is included within your current deal. It may be some HR features are included or can be added at a cost.

Alternatively, you may decide instead that you want to outsource your HR management and tasks to a third party. This should be weighed up in terms of cost and resource. 



Six of the best HR software providers for small business

There are plenty of HR apps and software solutions on the market. When doing your research, it is worth reflecting on your business needs and considering which elements are already covered by existing systems and processes. 

We’ve picked out six of the best HR software providers based on popularity, customer reviews and key features:

  • The best for flexibility… Zoho People
  • The best for larger small businesses… BambooHR
  • The best for medium-sized businesses… WebHR
  • The best for fast-growing businesses… bob
  • The best for analytics and reports… CakeHR
  • The best for start-ups and micro businesses… CitrusHR

Zoho People

Cloud-based Zoho People is marketed as “your complete online HR solution”, enabling you to automate and simplify your HR operations with Zoho’s customisable HR software. According to Indian software development company Zoho: “We take care of your HR processes, while you take care of your employees. From hiring, onboarding and attendance management to time tracking and appraisals, we’ve got it all covered.”


There is a free plan, featuring basic HR functions for up to five users. Other paid options, allowing more users and greater functionality/benefits range from £1-£10 a month (cheaper if you pay an annual subscription). 


Available 24 hours a day weekdays only. You can phone Zoho’s technical support people for assistance or email them. Users can also visit the company’s online support centre.

Key selling points:

  • Enables you to efficiently store and maintain all of your employee records and HR documents in one location.
  • Easy to add new employees.
  • Help you to successfully onboard new team members.
  • Attendance and leave tracked. Types of leave can be customised.
  • Enables better performance reviews.
  • Time and shift management.
  • Can be integrated with QuickBooks accounting software.
  • Android and iOS apps enable employees to access their attendance, leave and other records from their smartphone, when required.

Customer review:

“One of the best things about Zoho People is its flexibility.”

Zuzana Reingraberova – event and training manager Tesena

Find out more about Zoho People.


Founded in 2008, Utah-based BambooHR is a US technology company and HR software provider. BambooHR is marketed as cloud-based “HR software with heart”. It allows you to “focus on people, not processes”.

According to BambooHR: “Our HR software collects and organises all the information you gather throughout the employee life cycle, then helps you use it to achieve great things. BambooHR gives you the time and insights to focus on your most important asset – your people.”


£4 per employee per month. Free trial available.


Phone support is available 9am to 5pm (UK time) Monday to Friday. Web chat support is also available.

Key selling points:

  • Enables you to create a “single, secure database, with powerful, beautiful reports that help you improve your organisation”.
  • A full suite of automated pre-boarding and onboarding tools, so “you can focus less on forms and more on creating better first days”.
  • Time clock and shift scheduling.
  • Highly flexible and cost-effective.
  • Easy to learn and use.
  • App available to enable mobile access.
  • Can help make recruitment more efficient.
  • Free trial available.

Customer review:

“It’s freeing me up to do more of what actually matters in HR.”

Aaron Wheeler – Wistia

Find out more about BambooHR.


WebHR describes itself as a: “Global leader in cloud based HR – trusted by 25,000 companies in 198 countries.” WebHR takes care of all HR functions including recruitment, employee management, payroll, performance and training, etc. It can be used to simplify many daily HR management tasks, saving business owners and HR managers much time and effort.


Free for up to five employees. Thereafter, starts from $2 per employee per month. Price rises if you add more modules and have more employees.  


WebHR provides standard support to all free clients, although paid clients receive “priority support” and phone support. Website features chat enquiry facility.

Key selling points:

  • No special hardware requirements. “If your computer can handle Yahoo Mail, Gmail and Hotmail, it can definitely handle WebHR”.
  • Employee self-service.
  • Very user friendly and cost effective.
  • Comprehensive reporting.
  • Strong leave-management capability.
  • Highly efficient HR document management.

Customer review:

“Tycoon Animation has been using WebHR for almost a year. All of our HR needs have been met. We started using it when we had 45 employees. Today, we have more than 235 employees and our people-management and real-time tracking has been so helpful as we’ve made this transition.”

Oliver Guse – Tycoon Animation.  

Find out more about WebHR.


Created in 2015, bob is marketed as “the platform that grows people”. It’s a people-management platform that “helps fast-growing companies attract, excite and retain their people through data-driven HR tools.” The company responsible for bob is called hibob. It believes in “putting individual employee growth front and centre”.


Fully tailored quote available on request.


bob operates a comprehensive help centre, which is full of useful guidance on the software and HR challenges. Technical support is also available via hibob’s live-chat tool.

Key selling points:

  • Streamlines your core HR processes.
  • Offer engaging HR tools for employees and managers.
  • Automate your HR paperwork via “an intuitive way of managing docs and workflows”.
  • Customisable dashboards.
  • User-friendly analytics: “bob crunches the numbers so you don’t have to.” Real-time data, reports, and analysis.
  • Advanced filtering allows you to view important data, analyse your business’s insights and track you “people trends”.
  • More personalised onboarding of new team members.
  • Generates high-quality HR reports.
  • Free demo available.

Customer review:

“bob helps us to manage our people, our talent and our culture in an effective and supportive way.”

Michal Nachmani – VP HR, Playbuzz

Find out more about bob.


Acquired by Sage in 2019, London-based CakeHR is an award-winning HR software company “that streamlines HR management for customers in over 1,200 cities worldwide”.

According to CakeHR: “Having morphed from a leave management tool into a fully-featured HR platform with modules like timesheets, shift scheduling, expenses and performance, we’re releasing new improvements to CakeHR on a weekly basis, bringing the best HR tools for our customers”.


Monthly fees start from as low as £4 for one employee. They increase by £1 or £2 with each additional module you add, guided by your needs, and by number of staff.


CakeHR provides a wealth of online guidance. The website also features a live-chat customer service facility.

Key selling points:

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Helps you to onboard your new employees.
  • Sound leave and staff expense management.
  • Timesheets, attendance tracking and shift scheduling.
  • Accessible remotely via app.
  • Fully mobile self-service for your employees.
  • Can be integrated with other software solutions and apps.
  • Gain meaningful employee insights that enable your business to be more efficient.
  • Applicant tracking through the recruitment process.
  • Free 14-day trial.

Customer review:

“Before CakeHR we tried another company. It was so complicated, so, we left. Then we found CakeHR, which has provided amazing results. It’s one of the greatest tools we have.”

Wanda Barquero – Findasense

Find out more about CakeHR.


Bath-based CitrusHR was founded in 2013 by successful entrepreneur David Lester and Georgina Read and Kirsty Senior (“two vastly experienced HR consultants”).

Significant time-saving is a key benefit Citrus HR software offers. According to the company’s website: “Managing employee information and dealing with holiday requests, absences and payroll is frustrating and takes hours. CitrusHR software makes it far easier and faster, so you have more time for what really matters.”


HR software only – £2 per employee per month. A free 14-day trial is available. Software and additional HR support is available for £7 per employee, plus a £50 flat fee


CitrusHR software users with queries can phone or email the customer service team.

Key selling points:

  • Significantly speeds up time-consuming HR tasks.
  • Brings together all of your employee data in one place.
  • Access employee records instantly, from anywhere.
  • Never lose documents or data again.
  • GDPR compliant.
  • More efficient staff holiday and absence management.
  • Create appraisal forms and complete them online.
  • Create your own custom reports, accessible at any time by managers.
  • Useful prompts when key HR events are about to happen.
  • Free trial available.

Customer review:

“Citrus HR software is great because all of our staff can log in and see immediately how much holiday they have and they can easily request leave. It also makes us look really professional when new employees start.”

Alison Vellacott – Director of Bath-based Highlight PR

Find out more about Citrus HR software.

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