Best Payroll Service For Small Business [2024]


In today’s rapidly evolving business world, choosing the most appropriate payroll service can greatly impact the overall efficiency, employee morale, and informed decision-making processes of an organization. To help small business owners and recruiters make the best decision, this guide provides comprehensive assistance in evaluating, selecting, and effectively implementing payroll software solutions that align with their specific business objectives.


Intuit, the parent company of QuickBooks, is widely recognized for its comprehensive range of financial products and services such as accounting, taxes, and payroll. If your business already utilizes Intuit’s financial solutions, it would be beneficial to incorporate QuickBooks payroll into your operations.


With QuickBooks payroll, you can enjoy features like next-day deposit and automatic tax filing for both state and federal taxes.

Additionally, some plans also include bookkeeping features that can help you keep track of employee expenses such as mileage and other reimbursements.

Pros of QuickBooks:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Automatic calculation, filing and payment of federal and state taxes
  • Robust reporting

Cons of QuickBooks:

  • More expensive than some other competitors
  • Time-tracking is only available in top-tier plans
  • Not suitable for companies with employees abroad


Gusto is a payroll service designed specifically for start-ups and small businesses. It offers a full-service, automated payroll system that caters to both employees and contractors.

Gusto has an affordable contractors-only plan for businesses that rely on independent contractors. Moreover, the platform allows employers to administer benefits, such as healthcare and retirement plans, through a single system.

This system makes it easier for businesses to manage payroll and benefits administration.

Pros of Gusto:

  • Provides employee and contractor automated payroll with a contract-only plan option
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Compliance guidance

Cons of Gusto:

  • Per-person pricing can be costly
  • No free trial
  • Unable to support payroll outside of the U.S.


Rippling is a payroll service that is known for being dynamic, versatile, and highly integrative with many other business systems and applications.

One of Rippling’s most outstanding features is its powerful integration with over 400 apps. This enables seamless synchronization of employee data across different systems.

The software offers a modular approach to pricing, which means that businesses can select and pay for only the features they need.

However, this system might be more complex and overwhelming for new business owners who are not familiar with running payroll operations.

Therefore, Rippling is more suitable for experienced employers who know precisely what they need from payroll software.

Pros of Rippling:

  • Seamlessly connects with a wide range of business applications
  • Reduces manual administrative tasks and errors
  • Offers the flexibility to choose and pay for only needed features

Cons of Rippling:

  • Extensive features and integrations might be complex for some users
  • Price can escalate as more features and integrations are added

Paychex Flex

Paychex Flex is a payroll management platform that provides customizable plans to simplify payroll for small businesses with a maximum of 49 employees.

Although the platform offers various payroll features, it does not include benefits administration.

However, if you prefer to keep everything within the same company, Paychex Flex can be easily integrated with other Paychex products to take care of all your HR and benefits administration needs.

Pros of Paychex Flex:

  • Simple employee and contractor payroll
  • Customizable plans
  • Tax filing and garnishment payment services included

Cons of Paychex Flex:

  • Additional platforms or products needed for HR and benefits services
  • Extra costs for W-2 and 1099 tax filing
  • Not ideal for businesses with 50 or more employees


Paycor is a payroll services provider that offers a robust and comprehensive set of features designed to meet the needs of small to medium-sized businesses.

A unique feature of Paycor is its analytics and reporting capabilities, which enable businesses to generate detailed reports on payroll, labor costs, and payroll tax compliance.

This feature helps businesses make informed decisions and plan strategically. Paycor also offers inclusive plans for companies that require payroll software and a full-service HR platform for employee management, from hiring to termination.

Paycor offers a tiered pricing model that allows businesses to pay only for the services they need.

Pros of Paycor:

  • Streamlines various HR processes in one platform
  • Flexible pricing and features that grow with your business

Cons of Paycor:

  • May offer more features than needed for small businesses
  • Detailed pricing not readily available without a custom quote
  • Adding on features often costs extra


OnPay provides a payroll system that suits those who prefer handling payroll manually but still want it to be simple and efficient.

The platform offers a single plan that includes all features, such as payroll processing, tax filing, employee portal access, PTO tracking, and onboarding.

OnPay also integrates with popular benefits administration providers, giving the flexibility to manage employee benefits through the platform.

Pros of OnPay:

  • Straightforward payroll
  • All-in-one plan with competitive pricing
  • Easy employee self-service portal

Cons of OnPay:

  • No customizable plans
  • No free trial
  • No built-in time tracking feature


Justworks is a great option for small businesses that want to handle payroll efficiently. The platform takes care of all your payroll needs, so you don’t have to hire a payroll manager. This is especially helpful if you have a tight budget.

Justworks payroll system can also benefit businesses with complex hiring needs. If you want to cut costs and manage potential legal liabilities that come with payroll, you can turn over your payroll duties to Justworks for efficient, accurate payroll and peace of mind.

Pros of Justworks:

  • Handles payroll duties for small businesses
  • Easy employee self-service portal

Cons of Justworks:

  • Can be more costly than some competitors
  • No global payroll processing capabilities


TriNet is a professional employer organization (PEO) that offers outsourcing services for human resources and payroll needs.

With TriNet, you won’t have to hire a payroll manager or in-house HR staff, as they will take care of all your HR and payroll requirements.

Although choosing TriNet means you will have to relinquish some control over HR and payroll and follow their policies, it will save you time and reduce your liability.


Additionally, TriNet provides 24/7 live chat customer support, so you can receive assistance with payroll at any time.

Pros of TriNet:

  • Hands-off payroll
  • Reduced employer liability
  • 24/7 live customer support

Cons of TriNet:

  • No free trial
  • Reduced HR and payroll control
  • Payroll only included in the top-tier plan


Workday is a major player in the field of payroll and HR management, especially popular among large organizations due to its comprehensive and adaptable solutions.

It combines payroll management with a range of financial and human capital management features, providing a robust platform that caters to the needs of global businesses with complex payroll requirements.

Workday is known for its ability to handle multi-country payroll and compliance, advanced analytics, and user-friendly interface, making it the top choice for multinational corporations.

Pros of Workday:

  • Excellently manages payroll across multiple countries
  • Offers deep insights into workforce and financial data
  • Well-suited for large organizations and can grow with the company

Cons of Workday:

  • May be too intricate for the needs of smaller companies
  • Typically more expensive, reflecting its enterprise-level capabilities
  • No free trial


ADP is a well-regarded name in payroll and HR management. Their payroll software, ADP Run, is specifically tailored for small businesses that are looking to expand and require a payroll provider that can grow alongside them.

The platform is renowned for its exceptional customer support and compliance expertise, making it the preferred choice for businesses that demand a high level of regulatory compliance and support.

Pros of ADP Run:

  • Ideal for growing businesses with changing needs
  • Offers a wide range of HR and payroll services
  • Provides valuable support in navigating legal and regulatory requirements

Cons of ADP Run:

  • May require a learning curve for new users
  • Can be on the higher side, especially with added features
  • Lack of pricing transparency

Wave Payroll

Wave Payroll is an affordable and user-friendly payroll solution for small businesses and freelancers. It offers a range of features that cater to the specific needs of freelancers, including payroll, invoicing, accounting, and payment processing.

You can easily pay your contractors and employees through direct deposit and set up automated tax filing for W-2s and 1099s.

However, it’s worth noting that Wave Payroll only handles tax filing in 14 states at the moment, but this number is increasing with time.

Also, if you require benefits administration, you must seek another provider for those features.

Pros of Wave Payroll:

  • Inclusive features for freelancers
  • Easy user interface
  • Simplified payroll

Cons of Wave Payroll:

  • No benefits administration
  • Doesn’t offer automated tax filing and payment in all 50 states
  • No mobile app


SurePayroll is an online payroll platform designed to assist small businesses. It offers unlimited, automated payroll and tax filing features, making payroll management easy for small business owners. SurePayroll is equipped to handle payroll and tax filing for both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors.

Additionally, it provides benefits management for 401(k) retirement plans, health insurance, and health savings accounts. Setting up SurePayroll is a breeze, and you can start processing automated payroll within minutes.

Furthermore, SurePayroll offers a six-month free trial, so you can try it out and ensure it meets your business needs before committing to a paid plan.

Pros of SurePayroll:

  • Affordable pricing
  • Six-month free trial
  • Mobile app access

Cons of SurePayroll:

  • Must put in information to access pricing
  • Customer service availability limited
  • May be limiting for growing small businesses that need more

What Is Small Business Payroll Software?

Payroll software is designed for automatic and streamlined business payroll processes. It simplifies managing employee payments, ensuring accuracy and compliance with tax laws and employment regulations.

Some of the key terms related to payroll systems include:

Gross pay is the total amount an employee earns before any deductions are made. Net pay is the amount an employee receives after all deductions, including payroll taxes, insurance, and retirement contributions.

Deductions are the amounts subtracted from an employee’s gross pay. These can be mandatory (i.e. taxes, social security) or voluntary (i.e. health insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions).

Tax withholdings are the portion of an employee’s income withheld by the employer to pay state and federal taxes.

Direct deposit is a method of payment where the net pay is electronically transferred directly into the employee’s bank account.

What Are the Benefits of Payroll Systems for Small Businesses?

The advantages of using payroll systems, especially for small businesses, are numerous when compared to traditional manual payroll methods.

First and foremost, payroll software ensures accuracy by eliminating the possibility of human error.

It offers a high degree of precision, which minimizes the chances of costly calculation mistakes on paychecks.

Another significant benefit is efficiency, as payroll software can streamline the entire process. It helps in tracking employee hours and processing payments, saving time and allowing employees to focus on other critical aspects.

Compliance with tax laws and employment regulations is a complex and ever-evolving challenge for businesses of all sizes.

Payroll systems can help with this by providing detailed reporting capabilities, enabling businesses to easily generate comprehensive reports for internal use or compliance purposes.

Important Payroll Software Features

It is crucial to choose the right payroll software for your business as it can greatly impact your efficiency and compliance. When selecting your accounting software, consider the following features:

Time tracking: Effective time tracking is essential to ensure accurate wage calculations. It can also help manage employee attendance and productivity.

Tax filing and payments: Your payroll runs should handle tax forms, filings, and payments to ensure compliance with the IRS.

Reporting: Robust reporting features allow you to analyze payroll data, track expenses, and make informed decisions.

Mobile and employee access: Mobile app accessibility and a self-service employee portal allow employees to access payroll information and make updates conveniently.

    The Bottom Line

    When it comes to selecting a payroll software solution for your business, it’s important to choose one that fits your needs and budget.

    Consider prioritizing features such as time tracking, tax handling, reporting, mobile access, and integrations to maximize efficiency.

    Additionally, make sure that the software has strong security measures in place to protect your data.


    Remember that choosing the best payroll software is a strategic decision that can have a lasting impact on your business operations and compliance.

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