A recent survey found that issues related to compensation were among the top five complaints employees had about their employers and that respondents identified compensation problems as one of the top five concerns they didn’t trust their employers to solve.¹ This data points to how important it is for small businesses and individuals who hire independent contractors to process payroll in a timely, accurate manner. Mistakes related to wage calculations and federal, state and local withholding can cause headaches for your team and sow mistrust.
Using online payroll services can greatly improve how you compensate your employees. Because they reduce errors and boost employee satisfaction, these services offer a good return on investment. As a small business owner or sole proprietor, you can choose from numerous payroll providers. This list introduces some of the top names in online payroll processing to jump-start your search.
ADP takes a highly customized approach to online payroll processing. Its powerful suggestion system recommends the best payroll processing for your unique needs based on your answers to a series of questions. Most small businesses benefit from the Workforce Now platform for companies with 50 or fewer employees, and there are four plans to choose from.
No matter which you choose, you’ll pay a fee for each payroll processed and get the benefits of 24-hour customer support staffed by HR and tech experts to field any questions you may have.²
Gusto stands out as one of the few online payroll services that offers solutions for independent contractors, as well as employees. Its contractor service charges no monthly fee and only requires you to pay $6 per contractor to issue payments. Small businesses can choose from one of three products: Core, Complete and Concierge.
Each one has a fixed monthly fee, plus a fixed fee per employee. This payment structure makes processing payroll online more affordable, and the automated payroll function lets you pay everyone with just a few clicks.³
Paychex allows you to automate many functions to streamline your payroll processing. Paychex Go, its basic service, has a pricing structure similar to Gusto, while its Flex Select program for small businesses features a customized pricing system based on the specific needs of your company.
With this platform, you can have new hires enter their payroll information online to cut down on paperwork. All employees also gain access to a Pre-Check app that enables them to review their pay stubs before payday.⁴
OnPay is a straightforward online payroll processing service. All companies get the same basic plan, which carries a monthly fee and per-employee fees. For this price, you get access to unlimited payroll runs and a complete HR suite for onboarding, PTO tracking and more.
At the end of the year, you can have OnPay automatically produce tax documents for an additional fee. In-depth analytical reports give you insight into how much your payroll is costing you, so you can better plan for the future as you grow.⁵
Paycor earns high marks for its employee self-service portal. With it, your team can keep track of their compensation, request time off, make changes to their benefits and update their financial information if they need to change banks or withholdings. Another key difference between Paycor and its competitors is that none of its plans carry a per-employee fee.
Instead, all companies pay a monthly fee for unlimited payroll runs. Depending on the size of your business, this pricing structure may dramatically reduce the cost of processing payroll online.⁶
Rippling is a solid option for small business owners whose busy schedules don’t leave much time for learning how to use an online payroll service platform. Its highly intuitive user interface dramatically shortens the learning curve and allows those completely new to payroll to begin processing batches in just a few minutes.
To use the online service, you’ll need to use compatible apps to track employee work hours and withholding. The service works with more than 500 programs, giving you a wealth of options to choose from. Pricing is per employee with no additional monthly fee.⁷
7. Quickbooks Payroll
If you use Intuit’s Quickbooks accounting software, Quickbooks Payroll, its sister online payroll processing app, may be right for you. This service imports information directly from your accounting software and is available with three levels of services, each of which has monthly and per-employee fees.
Small businesses often choose the Core plan, which includes health insurance and worker’s compensation management, as well as next-day direct deposit processing. All plans come with a 30-day free trial, so you can give the system a risk-free test drive.⁸
Deluxe is a good choice for rapidly growing small businesses. Along with online payroll processing, you gain access to powerful hiring and onboarding tools, including an app that sifts through applications and resumes and identifies the most qualified candidates for you.
Before you sign up, Deluxe connects you with a customer service team that determines which features you need. Then, the company gives you a custom monthly price designed to suit both your budget and your payroll processing needs.⁹
SurePayroll gives small businesses peace of mind with no penalty tax and tax calculation guarantees. If the online payroll processor makes any tax-related errors, the company will serve as the point of contact for the IRS and take full responsibility to protect your business interests.
The company’s self-service plan includes low monthly and per-employee fees, while the full-service plan is a custom-priced solution. Both include unlimited payroll processing and carry tax guarantees. Some services involve additional fees, such as integration with your accounting software and time clock tracking.¹⁰
Payroll4Free.com lives up to its name by making online payroll processing completely free for individual businesses with fewer than 25 employees or contractors. Instead of charging you monthly for the service, the site generates revenue by placing ads on its pages.
The online service includes unlimited payroll runs, vacation time tracking, tax preparation assistance and the option to make direct deposits or print checks. Your employees also get access to a dashboard for checking their pay stubs, monitoring their PTO and updating their financial information.¹¹
How to Choose an Online Payroll Service
Because every small business has its own unique needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all payroll solution. Any of the above services can provide reliable online payroll processing, so you’ll need to weigh your options carefully to choose the one that’s right for you. Obtain quotes based on your number of employees to compare prices side by side.
You should also consider what HR and tax preparation functions you’d like to add or improve. Make a list of your top priorities and compare it to the features of various providers to ensure you choose a service that delivers everything you require.