The Top 5 HR packages for SMBs in 2022
2022 is an interesting year to be an SMB investing in business technology – and particularly an HR package. The last couple of years have seen significant changes to the way that businesses, and particularly workforce management is structured, given lockdowns and then the return to a kind of post-pandemic normal, with remote and hybrid workers now an established part of the picture of both large and small businesses. So if you’re buying now, rather than in the frenzy of the last few “just get through this” years, what should you be looking for in your SMB HR package?
As ever with comparative reviews, your business is your business, which means your mileage on HR packages will vary. But here are a handful we thought stood out from the crowd for one reason or another.
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If you’re looking at getting a system that’s flexible, delivers significant performance, and won’t break the bank, it’s difficult – not to say willful – to ignore Monday.com.
And of course, if you’re an SMB, that’s exactly what you’re looking for – the coming-together of performance, flexibility and an acceptable price-point.
Monday.com has over 200 pre-designed templates, and plays well with other systems, meaning you can easily import your company data into it and explore the possibilities of the software. Those possibilities are enough to keep you practically playing with HR data for a week as you mine the system for all the useful things it can do. But if you want to cut to the chase, the SMB-friendly templates for the basics of HR processing, like recruitment, onboarding and other HR-specific functions, can get you up and running in the system fast, meaning you needn’t learn a thousand-page textbook and interrupt your company’s workflow before you understand what’s happening.
That’s the sweet spot that Monday.com aims for and hits – everything you need to get started smoothly, and a lot more besides that you’ll come to when you need it, like training and development tracking forms, sales lead tracking, event planning, and more. The system Monday.com uses allows the data on its forms to be fed into dashboards in real-time, so you’re not dealing with HR communications lag – or “the death of all certainty,” as it’s otherwise known.
It’s a system that plays well with others, from the likes of Excel for data upload, to all your most-likely communication and productivity tools, from Slack, Teams, and Zoom to Outlook, OneDrive, Google Drive and more. So it’s a relatively plug-and-play HR solution for SMBs, that won’t have you calling out tech support just to get up and running.
Depending on quite how small your small business is, you might qualify for a free forever price plan (though that comes with limited features). Beyond that, the pricing is structured from around $8 per user per month, going up in three feature service levels for the SMB market.
Bright HR is a useful HR system if you enjoy profile-based HR management. That means if you’re an SMB with a rapidly growing workforce, it can help you make adding and managing those staff a relative breeze, compared to many systems on the market. Almost like building an online family tree, you can create profiles for new staff and fill in all the vital information that pertains to them – role, salary, annual leave, medical absences, etc – and then add them to the appropriate teams and levels in your organization’s structure.
This is not in any sense true gamification, but it’s a way of making role and HR management almost feel like it’s gamified, rather than… chore-ified.
Additional expenses tracking, one-glance calendar function, and easy-build rotas with auto-notification for all relevant staff when the rotas change make for a user experience that’s relatively hassle-free and rapid to get used to.
With plans starting from $4 per person per month, it’s not going to break you, and it delivers enough functionality to more than justify the outlay on a reliable, intuitive system that makes SMB HR a much more straightforward prospect than it used to be.
Zoho is a ninja panda of a company – its products are often quirky and user-friendly on the outside, masking some serious hardcore functionality underneath.
Zoho People Plus is all about empowering you to develop your own systems that in particular deliver top-quality recruitment and onboarding.
All your data can be stored in a single, centralized database (password management is on you!). But from that central database, Zoho People Plus allows you to design your own onboarding experience easily – send letters ahead of new staff’s first day, click to assign all the new staff paperwork to them, and with e-signature technology, the new starter can get all the bureaucracy out of the way ahead of time.
All the day-to-day business of HR, like leave requests, vacation time and performance review status are simple one-click options in the back-end, so Zoho People Plus takes a lot of the complexity out of the HR process. And even expense and payroll management are stripped back to the essentials in the dashboard, allowing you to do a lot without investing much be way of training time or overthinking.
If you particularly want a system that lets you make an onboarding process with your own corporate difference, and which goes fuss-free for the day-to-day elements of HR, Zoho People Plus has your name on it.
On another day, Eddy might well be higher on our list of the 5 best HR packages for SMBs, because it’s the ultimate all-rounder of the group. Yes, plenty of the other HR packages we’ve listed “do it all” and then choose to lean in to one particular element of the experience, like Zoho People Plus and its focus on onboarding, but Eddy is the product that does it all, always, constantly, quietly, and with supreme competence.
Hire, onboard, manage, pay, track – you can do it all through Eddy’s intuitive dashboard, and where a few of our other contenders also offer enterprise versions, Eddy is more specifically designed for small-to-medium sized businesses with a mostly local reach.
Where Eddy comes into its own is in the hiring and onboarding process, where its full-scale applicant tracking system (ATS) lets it punch consistently above its weight, and challenge the likes of a Monday.com within its own sphere of operations.
Like Bright HR, Edddy is an excellent and easy-to-use people management framework, though where Bright HR bases its structure on roles and teams, Eddy introduces company directories, so there’s an almost old-fashioned intranet feel to the thing. Staff can access directories, employee documents, custom PTO policy documents, time tracking tools, and more.
Starting at $8 per staffmember per month, plus a base fee, Eddy is in no sense the cheapest option on the market, and if you compare free demos among our five, it’s possible that you might well be swayed by some of the quirkier or flashier options available to you. But if you get to use Eddy day-in, day-out for a while, it’s deeply unlikely you’ll find yourself aggrieved or reluctant to pay the price that’s asked of you, because sometimes – and HR management is definitely one of those times – you just want systems that do as they’re told and take a weight off your mind. Eddy will do that all day long and twice on Sundays (if asked to do so).
Open HRMS is the wildcard of our selection. It’s an opensource HR software, which translates as you’ll have some work to do once you’ve downloaded it. It’s a set of modules, so there’s no single pre-set solution – you can build your own.
If it has a downside, it’s precisely that amount of effort. If your business needs a plug-and-play HR solution, chances are you’ll find Open HRMS altogether too much like hard work – and potentially lost revenue while you work out the solution you need, and put it together.
But if you have a little technological nous, Open HRMS can give you a “kid in a candy store” feeling, because it has lots of extremely useful HR features, and you get the chance to configure them precisely for your business’ needs from scratch.
All the usual suspects are here: attendance, vacation, payroll, appraisals, etc. And the pleasure of an open source solution is that you can customize the solution within an inch of its life, so that once it’s set up, it’s set up expressly as you need and want it.
Another bonus of going open source of course is that it’s a simple download and install, and it carries no ongoing fee whatsoever. That also means there’s little to no ongoing customer support for your HR solution, which means that if it goes wrong, it will probably take longer to remedy the issue than it would with some of our other choices.
But in terms of a frill-free but function-rich opensource option, there’s something deliberate and competent about Open HRMS that pleases the purist that wants to keep costs to an absolute minimum, and has some technological know-how at their fingertips.
As we said, with HR systems, your mileage will vary not just by virtue of your business and its nature, but also the nature of the mindset of the people who will be using your HR system every day. It would be absurd to invest in any one system without getting input from those people in your business. And there are of course, plenty of alternative HR options in the world. But these five all stand above the crowd for their features, and in most cases for their plug-and-play simplicity, allowing your business to get on with the business of managing its HR function with minimal interruption and maximum effectiveness.
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