Global HR 9 min

What’s the best HRIS for a small business?

Written by Barbara Matthews
March 29, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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Go online and type in “best HRIS for small business,” and you’ll pull up a slew of articles that compare HR software platforms that work well for small businesses.

These list-based articles are very helpful if you are looking at investing in a human resource information system (HRIS) for your own small business. However, they generally leave out one important dimension: the international aspect.

An HRIS is great for streamlining your human resources operations, even if you’re running a small or mid-sized business. But if you’re hiring workers in foreign countries — and who isn’t doing that these days? — HR complexities multiply dramatically. Usually, HRIS systems designed for small businesses are not meant to handle these complexities.

So let’s shed some light on this topic. We’ll review the best HRIS features and software for small businesses. And we’ll supplement this information with an overview of HRIS alternatives that may be a better option for your small business if you’re hiring workers abroad.

What makes HRIS systems suitable for small businesses?

An HRIS can come in many shapes and forms. A key distinction between systems is the business size the software is designed for, whether it’s a small or medium-sized business or a large enterprise.

Systems for small businesses are usually more user-friendly and have an intuitive interface. They focus on essential functionalities rather than an extensive range of features that might be overwhelming or unnecessary for a smaller HR team. This makes them considerably more affordable than big enterprise HRIS systems.

On the other hand, large enterprises often require more sophisticated HRIS platforms with gradations of key functionality. These might include complex performance management systems, in-depth analytics, and integration with other enterprise software, like accounting systems. The focus here is on customization.

In essence, an HRIS for a small business prioritizes ease of use and affordability. An HRIS can also help you streamline manual processes to increase operational efficiency.

Lastly, a small business HRIS should have scalability features that allow the system to grow with the business. To be clear, small business owners don’t just need a solution that can scale — they need one that enables them to hire anywhere. More on that in a moment.

The best HRIS systems for small businesses: an overview

Here’s a list of 15 companies that offer HRIS services, along with a brief synopsis of what is great about each of their services. They’re presented in alphabetical order. 

1. Bamboo HR

Bamboo HR is known for its user-friendly interface and robust employee self-service features. It’s excellent for onboarding and performance management.

2. HiBob

HiBob has a modern interface with strong engagement tools. It’s considered a great tool for culture-building.

3. Gusto

Gusto focuses on payroll functions and benefits management. They are partnered with Remote to enhance its international hiring capabilities.

4. Insightful

Insightful is praised for its powerful analytics which make it a helpful tool for data-driven decision-making. It might be too complex for small businesses that don’t have a strong focus on employee data management.

5. Insperity

Insperity offers extensive HR services, including risk management and compliance. However, their services may be redundant for some small businesses.

6. Justworks

Justworks streamlines payroll, benefits, and compliance. They are also known for their transparent pricing.

7. Paychex

Paychex’s strengths are its robust payroll and tax management features. Their clients are mainly based in the U.S. and Europe.

8. Paycor

Paycor offers a comprehensive HR and payroll system that is known for usability and solid customer support.

9. Remote

Remote offers an HR Management platform where you can manage your global workforce all in one place. Our software helps small businesses onboard, pay, and manage employees and contractors around the world.

10. Rippling

Rippling is a versatile system that offers seamless integration with many business tools. It’s great for payroll and benefits administration.

11. Sage HR

Sage HR offers solutions for payroll and benefits. They also offer services you can integrate for accounting and bookkeeping.

12. WhenIWork

WhenIWork is a user-friendly software primarily focused on scheduling and time tracking. 

13. WorkBright

WorkBright focuses on remote task management and onboarding tools, so it’s great for distributed teams.

14. TriNet

TriNet offers an HR platform that takes care of payroll and benefits. Some users comment that it lacks advanced features for performance management and recruitment.

15. Zoho People

Zoho HR product is known for its customization, scalability, and seamless integration with other Zoho software.

As you can see, each of these companies has unique strengths in the HRIS field. But the question is, how well do they support a small business that is hiring and growing internationally?

HR challenges small businesses face when hiring internationally 

A few of the HRIS platforms listed in the previous section have features designed for international hiring and payroll, but most don’t.

Companies that venture into the international hiring arena face a unique set of HR challenges. So it’s important for small business owners with an international workforce to pay attention to global HR features.

Let’s review these challenges since understanding their nature will help you hone in on the best HRIS solution for your small business.


Global payroll and taxes can get challenging when you are hiring internationally. Different countries have varying regulations, tax codes, and payment systems.

It’s a demanding task to ensure that all payroll functions comply with laws under multiple countries. You require a detailed understanding of multi-currency transactions to avoid costly mistakes.

Labor laws

Another significant challenge in international hiring is navigating each country's unique local labor laws.

Understanding and complying with different sets of regulations can be daunting. It’s quite easy to make mistakes, so the specter of non-compliance seems to always be hanging over HR professional's head.

Non-compliance can result in hefty penalties, tarnished reputation, and operational restrictions.

Misclassifying workers

Misclassifying employees or contractors is another major risk in global hiring. You can face legal issues when incorrectly classifying your workforce under different sets of regulations per country.

For example, you might hire a person as an employee but pay them as a contractor without without accounting for income tax or benefits. This sort of mistake can quickly get you into trouble with local labor law authorities.

The need for local entities

If you’re handling international HR yourself through an HRIS, you need a local entity. Without a local presence, you may not be able to comply with legal requirements to hire globally.

The risks multiply when hiring in several countries. Each new jurisdiction adds another layer of complexity to the equation, and few small businesses are equipped to handle these matters themselves in a safe and compliant manner.

Most HRIS systems designed for small businesses don’t adequately address international hiring challenges. They may offer some basic functionalities, but those often fall short of managing the intricate web of international HR requirements.

So what’s the solution for your small business? 

Look for an HRIS that offers core features tailored to international hiring. These include robust multi-currency support, a comprehensive understanding of local laws and regulations, tools for accurate worker classification, and capabilities for managing local entities.

Without basic international hiring features, a small business may struggle to keep up with the multiple requirements to hire globally.

It’s not just about filling positions. It’s also about hiring in a way that complies with various laws, manages diverse currencies, and minimizes risks. The right HRIS can be a vital partner in this endeavor, but it has to be equipped to handle the complex world of international hiring. And these systems are not easy to find.

The best HR solutions for small businesses that hire abroad 

The best HRIS for small businesses may not be an HRIS at all.

Small businesses may need more than a standard HR technology package delivered by an HR provider. A strong, small business that hires internationally may be better off partnering with global HR specialists like Remote.

In essence, if an HRIS can’t help you manage your international HR in-house because they just don’t provide the right spectrum of features, there’s a more viable solution: global HR.

Remote offers a global HR platform that helps companies hire, manage, and pay their entire team, both domestically and internationally, from one central HR hub.

At Remote, we are building a borderless world of work where small and mid-sized enterprises can act like multinationals corporations. We also make sure that employees have a great experience so they can fulfill their true potential in whatever location is right for them.

With Remote, you’ll have full visibility of employee data, robust reporting, expense management, and leave management for your entire international and domestic workforce.

EOR services: the alternative to global payroll

One important note on global payroll is that your company needs to own a legal entity in every country where you want to hire. Or, at least, it needs to be legally registered there.

If you don’t own legal entities in the countries where you want to hire, you can partner with an employer of record (EOR). Remote provides expert EOR services all over the globe which you can use through our global HR platform. Small business owners will be happy to know that Remote’s global HR and EOR services are very affordable. We offer transparent pricing with no surprises so you can hire across the globe. This can be much more cost efficient compared to investing in HRIS software.

Explore global payroll for your small business 

Investing in an HRIS can do great things for your small business. If you are hiring employees or contractors abroad or plan on expanding overseas in the future, make sure your HRIS supports international hiring functions. This helps you stay compliant with labor laws in the countries where you hire.

Before you invest in an HRIS, check out Remote’s new global HR platform, which lets you hire, manage, and pay your international and domestic workers from one central hub.

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