Best Small Business Payroll Service Shortlist
The payroll process can become more time-consuming and complex as your business grows. Here are the top 12 payroll services for small businesses, to help you manage your specific payroll needs.
- Deluxe - Best for a range of features
- Gusto - Best for automations
- OnPay - Best for customizations
- ADP Run - Best for integrations
- TriNet - Best full-service solution
- QuickBooks Payroll - Best customer service
- Wave Payroll - Best for online support
- Justworks - Best for resource management features
- SurePayroll - Best value for money
- Paychex Flex - Best for beginners
- Paycor - Best for complex projects
- Square Payroll - Best for growing teams
The right payroll service can help minimize your costs and reduce your workload. I’ve laid out the top options to help you select the right one for your business.
What Should a Payroll Service for Small Businesses Include?
Payroll service providers offer tools that can help with different aspects of payroll processing and administration, or they can take over and manage your entire payroll process.
Small businesses use payroll services to ensure employees are paid the correct amount, and that they receive their paychecks on time. Payroll services also ensure that employee paychecks have appropriate taxes and benefits withheld.
Overviews of the 12 Best Payroll Services for Small Businesses
Here are my recommendations for the best small business payroll services:
1. Deluxe - Best for a range of features
Deluxe is a cloud-based payroll service that merged with Payce Payroll in 2016 and has since provided small businesses with payroll and HR services.
Why I picked Deluxe: Business owners who want to reduce their HR and payroll workload can benefit from the depth of features. In addition, they can help with tax filings, new hire onboarding, and employee benefits administration.
Deluxe Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout features include customized reporting and PTO tracking, W-2s, 1099s, and other tax forms, and payroll tax filing and benefit withholdings.
Integrations include QuickBooks, G-Suite, and Microsoft.
Pricing: From $45 per month, plus $7 to $14 per employee.
Free Trial: Free product demo available
- HR tools
- Fast direct deposit
- Straightforward dashboard
- Reporting is lackluster
- Pricing can be high
2. Gusto - Best for automation
Gusto is a full-service payroll service with reasonable prices and many integrations. Gusto caters to companies in the hospitality industry and companies working with freelancers. It can track wage levels and get new hires onboarded quickly.
Why I picked Gusto: Many of Gusto’s payroll features are automated, including payroll taxes, compliance, and finding tax credits. Current users say they save an average of 5 hours per month on payroll using Gusto.
Gusto Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include an autopilot option that will automatically run payroll for you based on the schedule you set. Gusto also offers advanced reporting, new hire forms, contractor payment capabilities, time tracking, automated payroll taxes, multi-state payroll tools, compliance check-ups, and unlimited payroll runs.
I like how other HR information, such as health insurance, worker’s comp, 401K, and PTO, automatically sync with the app.
I also like the automatic tax filing feature. Gusto can calculate your taxes, fill out payroll tax forms, and file them with the appropriate government agency.
Integrations include Xero, Clover, Trainual, TSheets, and QuickBooks.
Pricing: From $40 plus $6 per employee per month
Free Trial: Demo available.
- Good customer support
- Autopilot option great for companies with salaried employees
- Affordable pricing
- Advanced features limited to higher tiers
- Per-person pricing expensive for larger businesses
3. OnPay - Best for customizations
With its cloud-based system, OnPay helps businesses with up to 100 employees manage their payroll and basic HR needs.
Why I picked OnPay: OnPay works well if you have multiple pay schedules, as it allows unlimited pay schedules.
OnPay can automatically calculate and file payroll taxes and manage employee benefits. It also has specially designed functionality for certain businesses, including restaurants, farms, and religious institutions.
OnPay Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include customized reporting and built-in HR tools. OnPay also offers free account migrations, unlimited payroll, multiple payment methods, garnishments, unemployment insurance, and multi-state payroll.
I really like how employees can enter their own information into OnPay and lighten your management team’s workload. Employees can also track their own PTO and manage their pay stubs and tax records.
Integrations include QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, QuickBooks Time, Deputy, When I Work, Mineral, and PosterElite.
Pricing: From $40 per month plus $6 per employee.
Free Trial: First month free.
- Can run payroll for W-2 and 1099 employees
- Transparent pricing
- Unlimited payroll runs
- No scalability as businesses grow
- No time-tracking tools
4. ADP Run - Best for integrations
With the largest list of integrations on my list, ADP Run is a scalable payroll service that can manage everything from basic payroll tasks to employee onboarding and recruitment services.
Why I picked ADP Run: ADP Run offers full-service payroll with automatic tax filings to keep your company compliant. You can run payroll online or via the mobile app and offer many payment options, including direct deposit, check, or pay card.
Certain packages also include access to HR professionals for a more convenient way to manage your company’s human resources.
ADP Run Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include recurring payroll for automated payment options, automated taxes, 24/7 support from certified payroll experts, AI-powered error detection, and automatic tax legislation updates.
ADP also offers employee assistance services, discount programs, and employee handbook creation. You can keep all employee information in one place and integrate employee benefits, such as health insurance, 401K, and business insurance.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Wave, Xero, Sage, WorkDay, Oracle, Deputy, When I Work, Clear Company, and ZipRecruiter, among many others. See the complete list here.
Pricing: Contact for custom pricing.
Free Trial: Demo available, up to three months free.
- AI error detection
- Large list of integrations
- Pricing isn’t transparent
- HR features restricted to higher tiers
5. TriNet - Best full-service solution
TriNet offers full-service payroll and HR management services that include up-to-date compliance expertise, risk mitigation, and talent acquisition.
Why I picked TriNet: As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), TriNet helps business owners manage employees, payroll, and benefits.
TriNet Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include TriNet's Performance Management function to help with the performance review process, so you and your employees can align goals and communicate more effectively.
The Risk Management solutions provided by TriNet help you make sure you’re in compliance with ADA rules, and employee benefit, wage, and labor laws. It can help you understand any new legislation and make sure you’re within the guidelines.
Integrations include Carta, Lattice, Xero, QuickBooks, Oracle, Sage, Okta, Google Workspace, Greenhouse, and Bamboo HR.
Pricing: Custom pricing upon request
Free Trial: Demo available
- Easy to set up and use
- Professional Employer Organization (PEO)
- Simple interface
- Opaque pricing
- PEO structure can limit your say in certain areas
6. QuickBooks Payroll - Best customer service
QuickBooks offers cloud-based payroll and HR services, including time tracking, payroll, and employee benefits.
Customer support is available via chat 24/7, or by phone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Premium users can also use the HR support center. Elite Plan users have access to a personal HR advisor, and QuickBooks’ call back feature to avoid waiting on hold all day.
Why I picked QuickBooks: What I love most about Quickbooks’ Payroll service is their same-day direct deposit feature—so you can hold onto your cash for as long as possible. They also offer time tracking and customized reports, and if you choose a higher tier, they’ll set up QuickBooks Payroll for you. Business owners can also automatically pay contractors via direct deposit the next business day, and provide necessary 1099s to ensure tax compliance.
QuickBooks Payroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automatically calculated and filed payroll taxes, automatic payroll, time tracking, and 24/7 customer support. QuickBooks also offers tax penalty protection, paying up to $25,000 in penalties in covered situations. You can also get support filing 1099-MISC and NEC forms or professional HR support.
You can set up automated or manual payroll and run customized reports.
Integrations include QuickBooks Online, SimplyInsured, and Mineral Inc.
Pricing: From $45 per month and $5 per employee.
Free Trial: 30 days free trial
- Integrates with QuickBooks Online accounting software.
- Tax compliance tools
- Fastest direct deposit turnaround
- Limited integrations with third parties
- No local tax automation
7. Wave Payroll - Best for online support
If you use Wave Accounting, Wave Payroll may be a natural addition. Wave offers payroll features for small businesses that give employees direct access to their information, such as pay stubs, W-2s, and direct deposit information. Wave provides online user support in the form of payroll, accounting, and tax coaching (in some states) by Wave’s in-house advisors.
In addition, if you live in one of the 14 states they offer tax filing services for, you can get automatic tax filing.
Why I picked Wave: Wave offers payroll services for small businesses, offering everything in one platform. Wave gives you automatic payroll options and an employee self-service portal.
Wave Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automated payroll and tax filing in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. You can set up direct deposit for fast payments, monitor worker’s comp benefits and audits, track PTO, and produce W-2s and 109ss.
I like that employees have hands-on access to critical information and help from a personal advisor.
Integrations include Wave Accounting, Payments, and Invoicing.
Pricing: From $20 per month plus $6 per employee
Free Trial: 30-day free trial
- Employee self-service tools
- Automated tax filing in 14 states
- Integrates with other Wave apps
- Limited integrations
- Limited functionality if you don’t live in one of those 14 states
8. Justworks - Best for resource management features
Justworks helps business owners spend less time on back-end tasks by offering payroll, contractor payments, employee benefits, and PTO management options. In addition, Justworks is a PEO offering enterprise-level access to benefits and professional HR specialists available to answer your questions.
Why I picked Justworks: As a PEO taking care of over 70,000 of its clients’ employees, , Justworks provides payroll services and tools to help manage employee benefits. I think it works best for new business owners or those without vast HR experience who prefer to hand the tasks over to professionals at an affordable price.
Justworks Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automated payroll, employee benefits deductions, and tax withholdings. It also offers time tracking and access to high-quality employee benefits and pre-built reports. In addition, Justworks handles all tax filing and ensures your HR-related data is compliant.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Xero, and Greenhouse Recruiting, among other third-party software systems.
Pricing: From $49 per employee per month.
Free Trial: Demo available
- Services for hiring and onboarding remote teams
- Compliance support and automatic tax filing
- 24/7 customer service
- Monthly costs are high
- Online version only, no mobile app
9. SurePayroll - Best value for money
SurePayroll offers two options—a plan with automated tax filing and one without. With SurePayroll, you can get set up in minutes, taking the complexity out of handling payroll. In addition, they offer a 100% guarantee and automatic payroll features.
Why I picked SurePayroll: I like Sure Payroll’s do-it-yourself option for small business owners who want some payroll support but can’t afford the high cost of fully outsourcing their payroll and HR functions.
SurePayroll Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include manual and automatic payroll, HR management tools, tax calculation and filing options, customizable reports, same-day and next-day payroll, automated payroll, and payroll on the go.
I really like the onboarding wizard, which gives you step-by-step support for onboarding new employees and setting up their payroll.
Integrations include Freshbooks, AccountEdge, Xero, Sage, QuickBooks Online, and ZohoBooks.
Pricing: Custom pricing upon request.
Free Trial: SurePayroll offers up to six months free
- Simple onboarding
- Works with many accounting platforms
- Option to file taxes yourself
- Complicated employee portal
- Not scalable
10. Paychex Flex- Best for beginners
Paychex Flex is a great platform for small business owners who recently started their businesses or aren’t experienced in HR.
I picked Paychex Flex: Paychex Flex offers a basic payroll platform with many add-ons, allowing the platform to scale with your business. If you only have a few employees, or if all of your employees are salaried, Paychex Flex can give you the tools you need to manage your HR and payroll processes without charging you for unnecessary features you may not use.
Paychex Flex Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include payroll packages customized to your needs, easy setup for online payroll, tax credit advice, employee onboarding and management, built-in time tracking, and employee benefits management tools, including 401K and health benefits.
I really like that Paychex Flex has customer service that’s available 24/7.
Integrations include hundreds of options, including BambooHR, Deputy, Oracle, Xero, Aetna, American Funds, and Bank of America.
Pricing: From $39/mo plus $5/employee
Free Trial: Personalized demo available
- Simplified, easy-to-use program
- 24/7 customer service
- Many integration options
- Some add-ons are difficult to set up
- No free trial
11. Paycor - Best for complex projects
Paycor offers a comprehensive payroll service for small to mid-sized businesses. It’s not ideal for beginners, as even its basic program has numerous features and includes automated payroll and custom reporting. Higher tiers include compliance support and HR management features.
Why I picked Paycor: Paycor helps businesses manage their talent, onboard employees, and track time and benefits. You also get unlimited payroll runs and a self-service tool for employees.
Paycor Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include a platform for recruiting, managing, and developing employees, workforce management to decrease costs, benefits administration, and the necessary technology to build a productive company culture.
Integrations include ClearStar, PayFlex, Epicore, Aflac, and Oracle, among hundreds of others.
Pricing: Contact for custom pricing.
Free Trial: Demos available
- Unlimited payroll runs
- Compliance support
- HR document library
- Opaque pricing
- High setup fees
12. Square Payroll - Best for growing teams
Square offers payroll services for small and growing teams that includes automated tax filing and managing employee benefits. Square Payroll is easy to integrate if you’re already using Square for payment processing.
Why I picked Square: Square Payroll has flat-rate pricing that gives you full-service payroll features for both contractors and employees, tax filing and payments, unlimited payroll runs, and live customer support.
Square Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include employee time tracking, instant payments via Cash App if you have a balance with Square, automated tax filing, team management, and payroll specialists on call when needed.
I really like that Square payroll only charges $6 per month for each independent contractor for businesses that don’t have full-time employees.
Integrations are limited to other Square products.
Pricing: From $35 per month plus $6 per employee
Free Trial: Demo available.
- Automated tax filing
- Instant payments via Cash App
- No monthly fee for the contractor-only plan
- Only one plan if you have employees
- Lackluster reporting and integration options
I found an additional five payroll companies for small businesses options to consider. While they didn’t make the top list, they are worth considering.
- Payroll4Free - Best free payroll service
- Patriot - Best for ease of use
- Block - Best for technical support
- Wagepoint - Best for employee-friendly features
- APS Payroll - Best for data accessibility
Selection Criteria for Payroll Services for Small Businesses
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best payroll services for small businesses for this article:
While reviewing the different payroll services on the market, I made sure each option that made my list included the following basic functionality:
- Automatic payroll calculations, wage garnishments, and withholding
- Direct deposit capability
- Multiple payment options
- Online or cloud-based access
- Integrations with popular accounting solutions
- Employee access to paycheck history
Once the bare bones are accounted for, highlighted important features for a quality payroll system include:
- Tax services, both ensuring compliance and doing the filing.
- Time clock and scheduling functions
- Payroll customization options, like how and when people are paid
- Interpreting data about hours, KPIs, and so on
- Employee management, like onboarding and managing benefits
Small businesses value helpful resources and educational materials, not to mention a strong customer service team to help them work through any hiccups. I highlighted options that prioritize small business owners’ need for simple and efficient software.
How much do payroll services for small businesses normally cost?
What are the benefits of using a payroll service compared to doing payroll for yourself?
What is the difference between payroll processing and outsourcing services?
What are the most important features I should look for in payroll services?
There you have it, the top payroll provider services for small businesses. I’ve provided you with some great options to consider alongside your business’s needs and your personal preferences.
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