Top 4 HR Management Tools for Businesses of Any Size

Employees need to know what resources and benefits are available to them and how they can access them, regardless of where they are working.

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By Thomas Smale

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Even before COVID-19 disrupted businesses in historic and unforeseeable ways, working remotely was trending strongly across business sectors. As Gallup reports, in early March 2020, an estimated 31 percent of American employees worked remotely at least part of the time. Within two weeks, that number had doubled to 62 percent, while according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, a full 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working full-time from home. Interestingly, 65 percent of employees working remotely during the pandemic self-report wanting to continue to do so.

The bottom line: Remote work is likely here to stay in some form or another. As Global Analytics states elegantly in its recent forecast of post-COVID work-from-home trends: "While the experience of working at home during the crisis may not have been ideal as whole families sheltered in place, it will give people a taste of what could be. The genie is out of the bottle and it's not likely to go back in."

Related: What We'll Miss About Working in Quarantine

Remote work and human resources

As employers continue to adjust to this sudden increase in the number of remote workers, they are recognizing that one organizational function comes under particular pressure: Human Resources (HR). In uncertain times, employees need to know what resources and benefits are available to them and how they can access these resources, regardless of where they are working.

A recent Future Workplace study shows that 50 percent of HR and business leaders rank employee experience as the HR area that will receive the most focus in 2020, followed closely (41 percent) by the increased use of technology to support such core HR functions as performance management, people analytics, corporate learning, and compensation and benefits. With the twin drivers of employee experience and technology in mind, I have compiled a list of the top four Software as a Service (SaaS) tools to assist HR teams as they continue to provide critical support to staff in these challenging times.

1. Gusto

Gusto's platform provides comprehensive support for all HR tasks, but most notably in running payroll (tax filing and compliance), managing health and wellness benefits, and keeping remote employees engaged. Ideal for small businesses, Gusto offers four plan options, charging a monthly base fee plus a per-person fee. The platform provides full-service payroll across all 50 states and third-party add-on features like health insurance management, 401(k) planning and 529 college savings accounts. Bonus: Gusto's setup wizard is more useful than most in ensuring that the initial setup or conversion of existing files is as trouble-free as possible.

Related: When Building a Great App, User Experience Is Key

2. Zenefits

For slightly larger or more complex companies, Zenefits offers a familiar portfolio of SaaS options through three pricing options. These packages provide reliable core services (benefits, payroll and the like) and tightly integrated partner applications. That said, things get a bit more complicated after that. Payroll capabilities are tagged as an add-on feature, as are the options to integrate your own benefits broker or take advantage of their advisory services. However, the user interface is well mapped and intuitive.

3. Namely

If performance management is your specific concern, Namely self-identifies as a people operations platform for companies with up to 1,000 employees. This platform focuses on onboarding, employee engagement and talent management, and analytics, along with the usual payroll and benefits administration. It also offers extensions to expand its support into recruiting and time/attendance management. One inconvenient truth: Pricing must be discussed directly with the sales department, so comparative shopping is unnecessarily cumbersome. But most reviewers tend to agree that Namely might get too expensive for larger businesses.

4. BambooHR

If you are looking for a fully inclusive Human Resources Management System (HRMS), BambooHR provides an impressively thorough HR management approach, with a broad set of features and robust functionality accessed by one of the best designed and easiest-to-use interfaces out there. Where this platform excels is in offering a huge selection of built-in templates, directories and reporting functions. It also has an optional feature that allows it to communicate easily with major job boards when hiring, a definite plus for any company anticipating a post-pandemic growth spurt.

All of the platforms noted here benefit, too, from having various partnerships in place, including but by no means limited to Expensify, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, Slack and QuickBooks. All of which makes system integration and data sharing as seamless as possible.

Thomas Smale

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder of FE International

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010. He has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

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