The Bottom Line: Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll) is a company that provides a cloud-based payroll, benefits, and human resource management software for businesses based in the United States.
All-in-one Payroll Platform
AT A GLANCE
- Payroll data transfers
- Software integrations
- Hiring and on-boarding
- Access to HR experts
Best Payroll Platform for Small Businesses
Pros & Cons
Whether you’ve a small handful to a larger number of employees, as a small business owner no doubt you’re looking for ways to continually streamline your operations.
Doing admin tasks like human resources management and payroll or even benefits can be tedious.
It can even help you pay taxes electronically and manage benefits.
Keep reading, because we’ll go into detail about the company, its features and whether it’ll be a right fit for your small business.
Best for: Small businesses
Price: As low as $39/month
Promotion: No current promos
What is Gusto?
Some of these payroll features include a bunch of automation functionalities and a user-friendly interface, making it much easier for business owners or HR managers to navigate.
The company’s mission is to help make complicated business process easier, so it can free up time to focus on other aspects of your business.
It has a presence in Denver, New York and San Francisco. Currently, it’s used by over 100,000 companies in the U.S.
Some other features of Gusto includes workers’ compensation insurance, 401(k) management and of course payroll — these features are available for all users across the U.S.
However, features such as health benefits are only currently available in 26 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
One of the ways Gusto aims to save you time is to automate the calculation payment and submission of your business’ payroll taxes at both the federal, state and local level (if applicable).
It’ll also save you time in terms of bookkeeping since it can help you make payments with check or bank deposit choices.
Plus it’ll automate calculations, handle year-end forms and look over taxes to avoid any errors.
Gusto’s subscription starts at $39 a month plus an additional $6 per employee for full-service payroll.
What this means is it’ll include unlimited payroll runs, new hire reporting, direct deposit, year end W2s and 1099s, off-cycle payroll and more.
There’s also the option to add on health benefits. The good news is that you don’t need to commit — pay month by month and cancel at any time.
Who is Gusto’s Target Market?
Gusto’s target marketing is mainly for startups and small business up to 100 employees.
It's best for those who don’t necessarily have a huge HR team so it can help these types of organizations streamline benefits and payroll management, plus business owners can get direct access to HR experts.
In addition, accountants and bookkeepers can also benefit from Gusto since this tool can help streamline much of the process for their clients, especially if these types of contractors and business owners want to grow their firm.
However, if you’re not in one of the 26 states where Gusto offers benefit features, you might need to look elsewhere, though there are plans to open it up to additional states down the line.
Gusto Pricing Tiers
Gusto offers three main pricing tiers. The difference depends on what you need and how many employees you have.
If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward system, this tier is for you.
You’ll get employee self-service and profiles, full-service payroll and paid time off policies.
If available, you’ll also get health services and workers’ compensation administration. The Core plan charges a $39 base rate each month then $6 each for employees.
This tier offers all the features you’ll find in the Core plan plus more features that include simple time tracking, employee offers and on-boarding, time off requests and employee directory and surveys.
The Complete plan charges a $39 base rate each month and an additional $12 per employee.
You’ll get all of the Core and Complete features in the Concierge tier.
However, the price jump is due to the fact that it offers employees relations, HR compliance assistance, certified HR professionals who provide actionable feedback and unlimited phone and messaging support from their certified professionals.
The plan also offers harassment prevention training, custom employee handbook, an HR resource center filled with HR templates and more.
This plan charges $149 a month as its base rate then an additional $12 per employee.
There are also optional add ons for employee insurance and other types of benefits:
- 529 college savings plans – You don’t need to pay to set this up. However you’ll be charged a minimum of $18 a month and an additional $6 a month per participant.
- 401k plans - Again, no set up fees, but the plan charges at least $39 a month plus an additional $8 per participant each month.
- Pre-tax accounts - Maybe you want to offer flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA) or commuter benefits. To do so, you’ll need to pay $2.50 per participant for HSAs, $4 a month each for each participant when it comes to commuter benefits and $20 a month for each FSA participant.
Take care of your team on payday and everyday!
We’ve already mentioned this in a bit of detail above, but small business owners sign up for Gusto because of its ability to help streamline payroll processes and tax compliance — tasks like remitting payroll taxes, calculating deductions and net pay, reporting new hires, new hire on-boarding and of course, running payroll each pay period.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of their more prominent features.
Employee Benefits and Insurance
Again not all benefits and insurance is available nationwide, but it could be worth considering if it is.
Gusto users have the ability to buy dental, medical and vision plans, plus disability and life insurance for their employees.
There are also options like commuter benefits, 529 college tuition savings plans, HSAs, FSAs and 401k retirement plans.
529 plans are available across all 50 states, whereas commuter and health benefits are only available in 27 states and territories.
This is the main feature that draws most of its customers — the features that work to make payroll easier.
You can automate payroll so employees can receive their paychecks via direct deposit at predetermined intervals.
You can also do what’s called an “autopilot” payroll, where Gusto will process and deposit paychecks each regular pay period automatically.
As an admin you can run unlimited payrolls — it’s included in your monthly subscription.
That’s right, you can automate payroll taxes.
Once onboard with Gusto the service will automatically file and pay federal, state and local income taxes through the online system.
Keep in mind that Gusto doesn’t have a tax accuracy guarantee so you’ll probably want to look over any reports just to make sure.
However, if you look at the fine print Gusto will pay if you end up paying a penalty of any errors.
Administrators can manage paid time off — think vacation days leaves and sick days.
This includes letting each employee accrue paid time off days or simply allocate a number of days.
You can also integrate Gusto with Homebase which is a time tracking and attendance software.
That means you and your supervisors can accurately track leave accruals, overtime and hours worked for all employees.
Why Should I Choose Gusto?
If you haven’t already been convinced that Gusto’s features are worth checking out, then perhaps it bears repeating.
The main advantage is that you can automate much of the HR and day to day processes needed to manage employees.
Having automated payroll management is a big perk since users can schedule and set up payments and Gusto will take care of the rest.
Think about the peace of mind you’ll get if all your employees are paid on time — there’s essentially no need to worry about having staff do it since it’ll be automated (and hopefully less likely to be prone to errors).
Plus, you can opt to do paperless transactions, helping to reduce paper waste. Instead of handing employees a slip of paper, digital paystubs are emailed automatically.
Plus, employees can also customize their accounts — they can set it up so that their paycheck will automatically donate to charitable institutions.
Users can also integrate Gusto with many popular accounting systems, making it a pretty flexible platform.
It can save accountants and bookkeepers time from digging through different software and manually entering data.
In other words, Gusto can help you reduce human errors and save you time since you can sync data into a single system. You can even use it like a database.
For example, you can access important information pertaining to employees like their contact data W2s, time off reports, I-9s and more.
You can even go one step further and access data to help you grow or get a better sense of what’s going on in your company.
You can see how much taxes have been paid, any possible trends in benefits and even workers’ compensation.
Depending on what tier you choose, you can get unlimited access to HR specialists who can help you with HR concerns.
You can also get access to a dedicated benefit advisor who can help you with their multiple years of healthcare expertise.
Yes, Gusto can help you comply with ACA, ERSIA and HIPAA standards. Gusto systems will automatically check your data, guarantee employee privacy, send automated notices and prepare compliance reviews.
Can I Print Checks Using Gusto?
Is There An Option to Pay Independent Contractors?
How Long Does It Take to Process Payroll?
How Can I Be Sure Gusto Will Calculate Taxes Correctly?
Can Gusto Sill Support Employees in Different States?
What Are The Credentials of Gusto’s Benefits Advisors?
Gusto can help your business automate some on its HR tasks which can be especially useful if you the owner are already juggling a lot of tasks.
This service can help you with many benefits such as payroll management, pay taxes electronically and the ability to seek help from experienced licensed professionals.
What we like is that there are different pricing tiers, though the monthly fee can get pricey depending on the type of features you want to offer employees, plus the number of employees you have a well.
Even still, the fees you could be paying may not be nearly as high as what it would cost you for someone to help you manage payroll and employee benefits manually.
Considering you don’t need to commit to a long term contract, you can always try it out and if you don’t like it, you’re not out much.
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