Anyone running a small or mid-sized business knows that you need to focus on essentials – driving sales and making customers happy. But without a big team behind you, how do you stop human resource management issues from becoming a distraction?
One way is to use HR software solutions like Gusto. This award-winning SaaS solution can manage all your people issues as well as automate time-consuming payroll runs, tax filings, and retirement benefits like 401k(s).
Our expert-led Gusto review looks at the platform’s features, benefits, and potential drawbacks. We’ll also rate it against top competitors in the HR software sphere.
Before we get into the details of our Gusto review, here’s our take on the key points:
- No limits on payroll frequency
- Flexibility to move around price tiers
- Support for domestic and international contractors
- Automated US tax filings for federal, state, and local agencies
- Not yet available in the UK
- No next-day direct deposit or time tracking on the basic plan
- Limited functionality on the mobile app
Gusto Plans & Pricing
Gusto’s four service tiers run from the stripped-down Contractor plan – currently discounted to be free for the first six months – all the way up to the Premium tier, offering exclusive pricing for larger organizations based on specific needs.
In between the high and low end of the scale, Gusto’s model uses a base subscription price, then adds a per-employee fee on top.
While there are just three core tiers – Simple, Plus, and Premium – we found that they escalate substantially in terms of functionality and price:
- Simple starts at a base subscription of $40 per month
- Plus doubles to a base subscription of $80 per month
When we looked at payment options for all plans in our Gusto review, we came to find that Premium pricing is by request only.
Gusto Pricing Plans Compared
|Monthly Cost/Per user
|$40 USD per month plus $6 per person per month
|Basic (payroll and time off reports plus custom reports)
|$80 USD per month plus $12 per person per month
|Basic plus workforce cost and employee surveys
|Bespoke pricing available by request
|Basic plus workforce cost reports and employee surveys
|Priority call center support plus a dedicated customer success manager
|Free for the first 6 months, but costs $6 per month per contractor
|New hire reporting
|Access to online knowledge base
|Yes (contractor payments)
The least expensive service tier we came across in our Gusto review was the Contractor Only plan. The base price is currently $0 for the first six months, plus a $6 per-contractor, per-month fee. After your first six months, the base price jumps to $35 per month.
This tier offers unlimited payments for US contractors and 1099-NEC (non-employee compensation) filing. For an additional fee, you can pay international contractors in over 120 countries.
Gusto’s Simple tier flat rate sits at $40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. However, the business and its employees must be based in one US state only. This plan’s main functionality focuses on payroll processing along with relevant tools, records, and reports.
With this plan, Gusto offers a basic US employee benefits administration package, plus third-party integration options in areas like accounting, time tracking, and expense management. You’ll also get basic customer support.
Gusto’s Plus tier is priced at $80 per month, with an additional per-employee per-month fee of $12. As the middle tier, it supports payroll services and benefits management for multiple US states and wraps in more HR features. We were particularly impressed by:
- Advanced employee onboarding tools
- Performance management
- Next-day direct deposit
- Additional reports for workforce costing
Gusto’s top-tier Premium plan comes with bespoke pricing only. It delivers everything offered by the Simple and Plus plans, but you’ll also get exciting special features. Premium users can enjoy:
- Consulting services from certified HR professionals
- A dedicated account manager
- Automated regulatory alerts
- Full-service payroll migration and account setup
- Health insurance broker integration
Gusto Review Overview
|$35 per month (after six free months), plus $6 per contractor per month
|Mid-sized organizations that need a combined payroll, US benefits management, and HR solution
|Support via chat, email, or phone. Help desk support from 07:00 to 18:00 Mountain Time.
|Asana, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, plus another 188 integrations.
|Security & Compliance
|TLS v1.2, AES 256 encryption, Multi-Factor Authentication, and account-level access permissions.
|Reporting & analytics
|Employee Benefits Administration
|Auto-alerts and reminders
Gusto HR Features Available
Gusto presents some unique features that are hard to find among other HR software competitors. As the gig economy continues to grow, Gusto’s payroll module can handle different pay rates and schedules for both domestic and international worker categories.
Gusto’s Wallet mobile app helps employees track payments and hours worked, no matter their location.
Aside from this distinctive feature, our Gusto review also found other quality, albeit more standard, HR software features:
- Time tracking
- Tax compliance
- Benefits management
- Employee self-service
Gusto helps you quickly process new joiners regardless of whether they work in-office or at home. It streamlines standard background checks and benefits enrollments thanks to a built-in e-signature function and online tax registration for each US state.
Our review found that payroll processing on Gusto was close to frictionless. We also loved the fact that you can customize payroll services to suit unique business needs. You can set employee profiles with a salary level or hourly rate, while automatically running regular payroll runs in the background (on a fixed schedule).
Gusto’s time management module offers both time-tracking and time-off functions. If you don’t have rules in place already, the platform suggests often-used policies for PTO. Its range of suggestions includes policy for:
- Sick leave
- Paid time off
- Paid holidays
Of course, you’ll also have the flexibility to create policies of your own.
HR teams can use Gusto to calculate and file US payroll taxes automatically. Employees can access their pay stubs using their personal Gusto logins and receive an email reminder to let them know their money is on the way.
For an additional fee, employers can receive regulatory updates about any changes to employment law.
For US customers, Gusto offers a robust benefits administration module that goes beyond what HR solutions typically offer. We tried out the management of extended benefits like:
- College savings
- Financial wellness
- Charity matching
The Gusto HR platform can even recommend regular benefits such as life insurance, healthcare, commuting, and retirement, all based on an employee’s profile. It truly feels like a future-ready platform.
Reporting and Analytics
You can generate reports from a library of options using different metrics. With these tools, managers can easily analyze payroll, time tracking, and contractor activity.
During our Gusto review, we tried selecting from a list of variables – it was easy to create reports tailored to organizational needs.
Employees can self-manage their own information with a personalized Gusto login. On the Gusto mobile app and desktop version, employee self-service includes being able to:
- Access their profiles to view payday data
- Change tax details
- See how much PTO they have left
- Record their working hours
Integrations with Gusto HR
With payroll being at the forefront of Gusto’s HR responsibilities, you can expect seamless integration with popular accounting platforms like Xero, FreshBooks, and QuickBooks.
Gusto also boasts third-party integrations with hundreds of applications commonly used to streamline small business workflow. These include time tracking, collaboration, training, and performance management. Among its 188 integrations, three important apps are:
- Google Workspace
- Microsoft 365
If integration is your priority, there’s very little concern as to whether Gusto is right for you.
Customer Ratings of Gusto
An intuitive user interface and excellent customer service were two aspects mentioned in the majority of reviews. User-friendliness and the convenience of having so many HR functions in one place were also frequently cited. We did not notice any overarching themes in terms of negative reviews at the time of writing.
What is Gusto HR Good for?
While it remains a top option for that kind of model, it has since extended its use cases to address wider business needs.
If your SMB employs a mix of FTEs and independent contractors, and you need flexibility in the plans and add-ons to suit your HR needs, you’ll fit right in using Gusto. It’s also a must for any SMBs that need seamless app integration.
Gusto vs. Top Competitors
|Small businesses in need of streamlined HR with guaranteed error-free taxes
|$40 per month plus a $6 rate per user per month
|SMBs in heavily regulated sectors
|$8 or ca. £6.30
|Firms with under 50 employees
|$59 per month, plus fees for add-ons
|Yes (as an add-on)
Gusto vs. OnPay
Like Gusto, OnPay offers all-in-one payroll and HR management. It seems to focus on small businesses too, but sets itself apart with an ‘error-free tax guarantee.’ OnPay also boasts robust benefits administration capabilities, similar to Gusto. P
ricing comes in straightforward bundles of popular features, but you cannot customize plans to specific company needs. Overall, these two solutions felt fairly similar.
Gusto vs. TriNet Zenefits
Like Gusto, we’d rate TriNet Zenefits highly for simplicity and ease of use. It offers comparable levels of robust functionality. The main difference is that TriNet Zenefits takes full-featured payroll and benefits administration beyond SMBs – it also targets larger organizations. Gusto firmly remains within the smaller business customer category.
Gusto vs. ADP RUN
Unlike ADP Workforce Now, designed for large enterprises, RUN is ADP’s solution for firms with under 50 employees. Like Gusto, it offers exceptional flexibility in pricing plans – you can customize plans to fit the needs of different sectors and sizes.
Notable features include automatic tax filing and reports, easy payroll, and upgrades like marketing and legal support. RUN’s pricing structure is more complex than Gusto’s, and extra fees can accumulate quickly.
Verdict – is Gusto Worth it?
There’s no doubt it’ll save you time by simplifying a range of HR processes – Gusto automates repetitive tasks across payroll, benefits, compliance, accounting, and people management capabilities.
We felt it was worth it for ease of use for your employees, too, as well as for the Gusto Wallet. There’s no need for much training or assistance before they can benefit from easy access to pay stubs and personal information without having to make a formal request to an HR team.
How We Test HR Software
Our expert reviews of human resource management software and online services are designed to help you make a smart choice before committing to a payment plan. When we review an HR software product, we assess its benefits and pitfalls in six key categories:
- Pricing – We check price plans for HR platforms to ensure they can align with the budgets of small and large-scale companies.
- Features – Core HR features must be available at a minimum, but we also want to see unique features at different price levels.
- Integrations – We analyze integration capabilities with a plethora of popular apps for businesses.
- Automation – Our experts expect to see a certain degree of automation in the features and functions of a quality HR platform.
- Ease of use – There must be an accessible interface to allow both HR professionals and company employees to easily use the product.
- Third-party reviews – We always check users’ feedback and testimonials about the software on respected platforms like Trustpilot.
How to Choose the Best HR Software
If you’re thinking of investing in an HR software solution, it must align with your unique needs. Our Gusto review showed that SMBs are set to benefit most from the platform – but what if you’re in another category? You need to check:
- Type of HR software – You’ll need to establish whether the HR software suits your organization’s size, complexity, and location.
- Essential HR features – If you need payroll as well as people tools like scheduling, time tracking, and performance management, then you’ll need a platform that’s a strong all-rounder.
- Pricing – Before committing financially, study the pricing structure. Does it fit your budget constraints? Have you checked for hidden costs?
- Ease of use – It should be easy to set up, upload data, and start using the product without much training. The key word here is intuitive.
- Integrations – You’ll need to ensure the HR platform’s compatibility with any apps you’re already using, as well as any future plans. Make sure you avoid any potential data duplication.
- Customer support – Choose software that offers customer support through multiple channels, like live chat, video, contact forms, email, and phone support.