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The ultimate small business HR software review

When it comes to HR requirements, every SME is unique. And when you’re a small business owner, chances are you haven’t got heaps of time to sit through a demo of every HR product under the sun to find the perfect fit for you. Luckily for you, we’ve created the ultimate guide to small business HR software in the form of a handy infographic – giving you all the information you need to decide which HR tools to consider in one place. Below that, we’ve given you some more information about the products and their features.

HR software infographic

(click to enlarge)

The tools


This UK-based solution is made for small to medium-sized businesses and offers an intuitive user dashboard that employees can access anywhere, as it’s a cloud-based software. A full-service HR management tool, it’s especially good for managing absence, with clear sick leave and holiday calculations, and its alerts and notifications function is ideal for making sure you never overlook any time-sensitive employee information. It’s offering a free trial here.


TribeHR promises great things with its functionality, but in practice we found it too be unwieldy and, at times, downright frustrating. For example, we just about gave up trying to manage absence on the system: employee holiday allocation was displayed not as the figure for a full year but instead as a running total which increased incrementally month by month. As far as user experience goes, it was a bit of a fail.

Vana Workforce

Vana Workforce offers a pretty comprehensive HR package, covering basic HR needs and talent management. According to its LinkedIn page, Vana Workforce was named a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner in 2010; at any rate, coming in at a cool $9 per user per month, it’s on the pricey side.


US-based BambooHR puts a fun face on employee management, boasting that its staff play board games every Thursday and, fittingly enough, that they own a panda suit. Gimmicks aside, it’s a solid HR solution that is doing some interesting things with mobile apps and integrated applications.


With a focus on talent management, TalentGuard is a comprehensive software that supports HR activity all the way up the business hierarchy to the C-level executive suite. As such, it’s maybe one for the future, when small business heroes are running massive international organisations (we believe in you!).

Kin HR

Kin HR caters to businesses of all sizes with some nice personal touches such as team profile and bio pages. It’s also embraced social media as a channel through which users can reach the support team or stay up to date on feature updates.


This tool is a dedicated absence management solution, offering a full range of sick leave and holiday tracking tools. If that’s what you need, great; if you’re looking for a more comprehensive HR tool, this one probably isn’t for you.

OrangeHRM Professional

OrangeHRM Professional is a cloud-based solution made for SMEs with lots of snappy features – there’s even its Open Source solution that can be used for free. However, with its tiered functionality, if you want to experience the full range of tools you’ll need to splash out on the Enterprise version.


Like all our features solutions, breatheHR prides itself on helping customers to grow their businesses by saving time and effort. But breatheHR goes one step further and pledges to maintain a “culture of giving”. It claims to do this by making charitable donations on behalf of every new customer, as well as by supporting its staff “through the ups and downs of life”.  How sweet.

Staff Squared

Staff Squared is, as the name suggests, employee-centric. Its design is smart and it has some useful features like its goal setting and document storage section, where things like expenses claims can be submitted

Zoho People

Zoho People is a self-service employee management tool with plenty of user-friendly features, including a time tracking tool for keeping on top of man hours. And, as part of the wider Zoho Corp group, Zoho People has some heavyweight IT know-how behind it.

Natural HR

While not the most swish-looking of products on the market, Natural HR is free! So for small businesses with absolutely no budget, this could be the entry-level HR tool for you. If not, we suggest taking your time and shopping around – HR is a vital business investment, after all, and not one to be scrimped on.


This solution boasts many of the features common to most of the players on the market, with a couple of notable additions: it’s trademarked Follow Me feature which helps HR professionals make better strategic decisions by showing them industry averages and benchmarks; its Missions tool is a play on the traditional goal-setting function many solutions offer, but with interactive challenges for more of an engaged user experience.

Sage 50 HR

Sage 50 HR targets its product at small to medium-sized businesses with no in-house HR expertise – so a pretty wide market of startups and growing enterprises. It offers free cover for a year (though most, if not all, of its competitors will always help you if you ask them nicely) and it helps businesses keep on top of employment legislation – handy if you want to keep on the right side of the law!

The features

Recruitment: The product features tools that help you out with recruiting – for example, an applicant tracking system that lets you keep track of candidates to your roles, the option to database information about candidates (like their CV), or the ability to create job boards for positions at your company.

Onboarding: The product helps track the process of bringing new employees up to scratch on the company and its procedures and protocols.

Training management: The product lets small business owners and employees track progress in their training programme.

Absence management: The product tracks and helps manage staff absence – whether sick leave, holiday or compassionate leave.

Performance management: The product helps with the performance management process, such as organising and carrying out appraisals and notifying when these are due.

Task management: The product has the facilities for employees or their managers to set and track any tasks that  need to be carried out.

Personal information management: The product tracks important information about staff, such as appraisals, holiday, sick leave, right-to-work documentation, grievance and disciplinary records.

Asset management: The product lets businesses track where company assets (such as tablets, laptops etc.) are at any given time.

Reporting: The product has the ability to create reports on the information it contains.