Human Resource Management for Small and Medium-Size Businesses (SMBs)

John Ferguson
November 27, 2019

Human Resource Management for Small and Medium-Size Businesses (SMBs)

Human Resource Management for Small and Medium-Size Businesses (SMBs) 

Are you a small business owner?  If so, you are likely an extremely good multi-tasker!  However, do you really have the time to manage the infinite and tedious personal details of your employees?  Probably not. Enter stage left: human resources (HR) software! But I know what you’re thinking: the very last thing you have time to do is research which suite is right for your business.  Enter stage right: TrustRadius! Not only have we cataloged all the different types of HR software, but we have reviews from actual users, each according to your specific industry.

Considering the unique needs of small business owners (specifically how your needs may differ from larger companies), TrustRadius aims to narrow down your software choices by highlighting the top-rated HR suites for small businesses. To be included on this list, the product must have a majority of its user base be small businesses and have at least 10 reviews from small businesses.      

What Do I Need?

So you’re pretty sure your current methods won’t scale up well, but don’t know what to replace them with?  In case you aren’t familiar with what is available, here’s an overview of the HR software functions most small businesses generally need.  

First, the essentials.  Every business needs a way of keeping track of payroll for their employees.  Payroll encompasses a large amount of information: salary, hours, benefits, tax deductions and bonuses.  Each of these aspects produces a multitude of data and HR software will help you not only input this data but manage it as well.  

Directly linked to payroll is keeping track of employees’ attendance and leave.  Fundamental to the calculation of an employee’s compensation is whether they are working their required hours.  In addition, vacation, sick, and personal leave time accrued will affect the employee’s bottom line as well.  

Lastly, another essential function of any HR software is ease of use.  If the interface is not easy to navigate nor accessible, it doesn’t matter how much fancy data it compiles, it won’t be useful to your business.  Additionally, its compatibility with other systems already in place is key. The benefits of introducing new HR software into your existing business model are greatly reduced if it is not confluent with your other systems.  

Now, what about functions that would be beneficial yet not universally essential?  A common one is recruitment. If your business is small, each hiring decision must be extremely efficient.  HR software can help you determine exactly what your needs are so you can better find the perfect fit for each position.  If you can effectively hire and recruit the right employees, turnover and overhead will likely drop.  

Another non-essential function of HR software is automation.  The more automated your HR process becomes, the more routine and tedious items can be taken off your plate.  Imagine freeing up your time for staff development and management versus expending it on laborious manual tasks.  

HR Suites Most Highly Rated by Small Business Owners


Trinet is a full-service HR outsourcing provider.  Its software is just one thing it provides to its clients amongst a myriad of other services.  They tailor the software directly to your industry type and needs. Their reviewer base is overwhelmingly small businesses, with over 500 small business reviews.  

Based on its TrustRadius reviews, this software is extremely efficient at payroll and time management of employees.  One reviewer also commented that this is a great option for businesses that don’t have the resources for an entire HR department. The automation of many HR functions such as reports, time-tracking, and benefits status eases the overall burden on small businesses.   

RUN Powered by ADP

RUN is ADP’s small business software primarily used to execute payroll.  The vast majority of its reviewers are small businesses, including over 80 reviews. RUN offers additional HR management features, but is an ideal product if your main concern is running payroll processes.  

Reviewers of this software have noted the ease with which its platform prepares them for tax reporting.  Accessibility of the interface and its time-saving components were amongst the top praises for this software.  Looking for legal compliance with regard to your HR and payroll departments? This software has the added benefit of making sure your company is fully compliant in your field.  


Gusto is an HR management offering with a heavy focus on small businesses (55 of its 75 ratings and reviews are from small businesses). With its specialization in small business needs, it primarily provides the core services that small businesses and startups need– payroll, benefits, and time tracking, without the extra strategic functions that can be overkill for small companies. 

Reviewers often cite Gusto’s payroll capabilities as a standout feature that makes their lives easier. Users also point to its user-friendliness, which can save you time and mental and emotional energy when dealing with your HR processes.

However, there are trade-offs when using a scaled-down offering. The most common complaint across recent users is difficulties with Gusto integrating with other software, such as accounting systems like Xero or Quickbooks.

Honorable Mention: Paycor (Scaling Option)

This software provides core HR functions tailored specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.  Their reviewer base has more midsized businesses, but it’s fairly evenly split between small and midsized businesses, so it could be a good option if you want to scale. It has an integrated benefits platform that allows for direct communication between companies and insurance providers.  In addition, it’s time management function is adaptable to your specific needs.    

One reviewer noted that Paycor has helped his business “streamline the onboarding process by allowing us to share documents and have them signed or reviewed as needed.”  General time-saving and seamless benefits administration are other key functions of this suite.  

You may also find this blog post on different types of HR software useful. If you’re not sure what HR management software actually is, check out our overview of HR management software! If you want to do your own exploration of your options, take a look at users’ reviews of the full list of HR management software

About the Author

John Ferguson
John is a Research Associate at TrustRadius, focusing on content development and buyer-guided research. His goal is to support and enable better software buying decisions, with an eye towards helping people from all backgrounds navigate the world of business software. He has a BA in Politics from Centre College.

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